Sporting a completely overhauled engine and intelligent design decisions, Just Cause 2 isn't your average sandbox action game -- it's what Grand Theft Auto would be if it made sweet love to Bionic Commando.
The original Just Cause wasn't a bad game -- in fact it was extremely entertaining -- but its rough look delegated it to the category of a "just another poor prev-gen port." According to Avalanche Studios game director Magnus Nedfors, the original title was planned for the PS2 and the original Xbox only, but development was shifted to include the Xbox 360 after the console burst onto store shelves. Unsurprisingly, Just Cause 2 is built from the ground up as a completely current-gen experience -- and it shows.
"Grabbing onto an enemy leaning out of a speeding vehicle allows players to attach him to moving cars, dragging the adversary along alive-and-kicking."
Players can use the unlimited stream of grappling hooks for various tasks: latch onto a car and sail above using Rico's never ending supply of parachutes, nab enemies and stick them to surfaces (ala Spider-man) and even grab vehicles and hurl them off the road. One of the most impressive uses of the hook was also one of the funniest. Grabbing onto an enemy leaning out of a speeding vehicle allows players to attach him to moving cars, dragging the adversary along alive-and-kicking. The game also includes a new on-vehicle cover system allowing Rico to maneuver around a moving vehicle to shield himself from enemy fire.
If a vehicle becomes too much for Rico to handle, players can board an enemy vehicle and plant a satchel of C4 explosive, and then jump to another vehicle (or sail above via parachute) to safely blow it into oblivion. It's quick, intense and looks great using Avalanche's new engine. The only troublesome part of the demo we saw was hijacking a vehicle during car surfing sequences. In order to commandeer an enemy ride players must first kill all passengers and then perform a four-button combination to throw out the driver and take over the wheel. It's a mechanic we fear will get really old, really fast.
"It's a mechanic we fear will get really old, really fast."
Our time with Just Cause 2 was short, but from what we've seen of the game we have no doubt that Avalanche Studios is trying to do something special with the series. Rico is back and it's time we started to pay more attention to the guy, if only to see just how suave he can be.