August 28, 2010

If I Wanted To Grapple-Hook, I’d Super Quick Hook

Alternate Title: Not Nearly As Justified As Advertised.

All the talk on the Gigantic Bombcast really had me excited for Just Cause 2. As you know, I really liked Crackdown, and Crackdown 2 was kind of a disappointment. (Have I written A reviewish thing about that here? Apparently not. I should. Expect that coming up.) However, people were talking about Just Cause 2 in the same sort of wording as the original Crackdown, with lots of mayhem, completely open objectives, and a grapple hook/parachute combo that really opened the world up. It sounded pretty great, and I wanted to try it. Gamefly let me.

I was really disappointed.

One of the things the original Crackdown did right was making travel fun. Getting from one objective to the next was quick and easy, but it was also engaging, because of those damn agility orbs. Just Cause 2 doesn’t have anything like that. You have this big island, and nothing in between population centers and objectives except a lot of boring trees. Sure, there is a fast travel option, but it only takes you to places you’ve been. If you want to undertake a new mission, you have to walk there, slowly. It is a huge, annoying pain in the ass. About 90% of my travel time in the game was spent moving from one area to another.

When I got to the new area, I was also disappointed. Combat in the game is pretty ridiculous. You can’t shoot very well, and there are tons of guys everywhere on normal. Fun stuff you’d like to do, like silly Grapple Hook tricks, often get you killed. Explosives are scarce until you grind up enough money to buy them from the Black Market guy, and so big explosions are hard to set off as well. In a game where the point is to set off lots of big explosions to create chaos, that’s just kind of weird. To top it all off, the mid-mission checkpoints are often way, way too far apart. I found myself having to replace sequences I beat, again and again, just because the next part was really, really annoying. I put up with that kind of thing in, say, Splinter Cell: Conviction because the combat itself was pretty fun. Just Cause 2 didn’t really offer me that to make up for these shortcomings.

It made me sad that the game disappointed me so much. I had played the demo and found it very fun, but it was in short bursts and they put you in a very populated area where you didn’t really have to travel. There was so much potential for a game where you can wreak havok with a grappling hook and many guns, but it just wasn’t working for me at all. It’s gotten mostly good press, so I’m sure some people can enjoy it, but it really isn’t for me.

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