Best sandbox game yet? I think so.
The first thing that hits you in Just Cause 2 is it's beauty. It's truly sublime. The island you have free reign in is meticulously crafted and spans a satisfying range of environments - cities, jungles, snowy mountains etc. A great feature of this environment is that from the local scale (grass, plants) all the way up to what feels like the sub stratosphere, the detail is impeccable and the transitions are almost seamless.
The next thing to hit you is the freedom. A true sense of exploration and discovery awaits you in this title. With access to any vehicle you see (ok, not that new a concept but done very well here) you have a wonderland of fun. Transport is not relegated to vehicular modes either. Your grapple and parachute are a joy to use. Anyone remember Hunter on the Amiga? It had a lot of vehicle access in a free roaming environment and you get the same fresh buzz with Just Cause 2. Fresher than GTA and the reasons for that I can't quite put my finger on. I read a post somewhere where it was compared to Pilotwings on the SNES and N64. I can agree with this. Particularly the N64 version where you would while away hours drifting around and admiring the environment. If you are fortunate enough to remember those feelings then get ready to have them amplified. Also, using the grapple and parachute in the city locales reminded me greatly of the freedom in Spiderman 2 on the original xbox. No bad thing.
The gameplay is also accomplished. Gunplay is accessible and fun and not in any way broken. I recall a review saying that the inability to employ pinpoint accuracy was a flaw. Simply not the case. Headshots are doable, if that's of great importance to you but I would argue you should embrace the kinetic, frantic nature of the combat to fully appreciate the game. The combat options provided by the grapple and it's dual hook use, are many and varied and make combat a delight. The game treads a fine line between making you feel all powerful but also vulnerable in large firefights.
The game is accomplished, detailed and lovingly-crafted. A triumph, really. Although voice acting will not win awards it matters not a jot. This game will also last a very long time.