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Just Cause 3 Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Don't let the brochure fool you, Medici is a terrible vacation spot. Not only will Rico Rodriguez go head-to-head with an army hell-bent on world domination, but he'll also need to overcome a mountain of technical problems. The lengthy load times and wildly inconsistent frame rate keep Just Cause 3 from reaching the highs of its predecessor. Rating: 64%
Just Cause 3
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Thanks to a sudden resurgence at the box office, spies were a big part of 2015. From Rogue Nation to Kingsman to Spectre, this year has been all about giving everybody -- even Melissa McCarthy -- a chance to save the world. But while everybody has their preference, my favorite spy isn't James Bond or Ethan Hunt. In fact, the year's hardest working agent didn't even appear on the silver screen. The man in question is Rico Rodriguez, a tough-as-nails action star that is essentially every member of the Fast & Furious series rolled up into one unstoppable killing machine.

As the star of the Just Cause series, there are a few things you can expect from Rico. For one thing, he's always quick with a sarcastic quip or corny one-liner. He'll spend most of his time flying over some of the world's most exotic tropical locations. And when push comes to shove, he's not afraid to blow everything up. That's the recipe for Rico's success, and one that Just Cause 3 mostly gets right.


Having already liberated San Esperito and Panau, Rico has set his sights on the Mediterranean island nation of Medici. This was his homeland before the nefarious General Di Ravello decided to take over. Fearing the brutal dictator will use the country's rare natural resource to take over the world; our hero sets out on yet another adventure filled with action, intrigue and a whole lot of explosions.

It's easy to see why Rico is in such high demand. He's not only capable of withstanding dozens of bullets, but also able to use his grappling hook in ways the Bionic Commando only dreamed about. By combining the grappling with the parachute, Rico is able to get airborne and escape danger at any time. He'll effortlessly float overhead, able to sneak into heavily fortified zones and take shots from far above.

While Rico's grappling hook is nothing new, it comes with a few important changes for Just Cause 3. We're now able to retract tethered objects, allowing Rico to tear down signs and send explosive barrels flying. This opens up all kinds of new ways to mess with Di Ravello's soldiers. Best of all, it allows you to complete many of the objectives without firing a single bullet.

Rico's retractable tether is not the only addition to Just Cause 3. In addition to the parachute, we're given a brand new wingsuit to help get around. Although it comes with a bit of a learning curve, the wingsuit allows for speedy travel from one side of Medici to the other. And with 400 square miles to explore (and then blow up), you'll spend a lot of time soaring through the air like a gun-wielding bird.

Just Cause 3 (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

While the new gear will make getting around feel fresh and exciting, Just Cause 3 will quickly settle into a familiar formula. In order to defeat General Di Ravello, Rico is tasked with liberating dozens of cities, military bases and outposts. Running the enemy soldiers out of these locations will open up new missions and side quests, which will advance the story and give Rico a chance to upgrade his equipment.

When I say I'm "liberating" a bunch of cities and bases, I actually mean I'm blowing everything up. Each location has a series of objects to destroy, including billboards, statues, radio towers, satellite dishes, oil tanks, transformers and more. Often you'll need to clear out the police station and free the prisoners, while other times Rico will need to assassinate a high ranking figure. Once you've destroyed everything, it's time to raise the flag and spread freedom.

Even though the formula hasn't changed much in the five years since Just Cause 2, this sequel has streamlined the process to make liberating the map less of a slog. We're now able to see a checklist of everything needed to free the people of Medici. What's more, the map will help point out the trickier objectives. Gone are the days of scouring every inch of the map trying to find a tiny generator that needs to be blown up.

As much as I loved it at the time, it's been a few years since I last played Just Cause 2. But even with that extended break, it didn't take long for me to move around the open world like a seasoned pro. There's a skill to Rico's grappling technique that, once mastered, will have you pulling off the most incredible feats you'll ever see. At this point it's almost passe to be excited about grappling up to a helicopter and raining death from above, but it's a satisfying feeling you won't find in any other open world game.

Just Cause 3 (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Speaking of which, I am in love with Medici. Sure, we've seen a lot of the forests, beaches, mountains and cities before, but Just Cause 3 has done a much better job of fitting them together. Moving through the drastically different environments doesn't feel as jarring this time around, something that is no doubt helped by splitting the country into a series of islands. Each area has something unique to offer, and I loved soaring through the air looking for hidden bases and Easter eggs. The tropical atmosphere is also relaxing, even when it feels like everything around you is on fire.

Unfortunately, it won't take long for this island getaway to turn sour. The first sign of trouble is the initial load, which takes a couple minutes to populate Medici. Had this been a one-time thing, I probably would have been a lot more forgiving, but these lengthy load screens are repeated every time you die, restart a mission or fast travel between islands. This wait time blunts any momentum the game might have had.

These aggressive load times are not just annoying, but can also make progressing through the game a real chore. In order to unlock character mods, players will need to play through a bunch of mini-games. As you might expect, these diversions are short; often under a minute in length. This means you'll be waiting around for a couple minutes just to play for 45 seconds. Want to retry that mission? You'll need to wade through another two minute load screen. Want to exit back to the map? You guessed it, another long load screen. With so much loading, you'll never want to play any of the side missions.

Believe it or not, the game will even load when you get knocked offline. Despite this being a single-player experience, Just Cause 3 does collect data for the online leaderboards. This is a fun idea and all, but server problems lead to another lengthy wait. And it's not just the long pause as the server disconnects, but also another minute for every attempt to reconnect. There's an offline mode, but you'll need to be online in order to pause the game or pull up the map. This may be one of those issues most people won't run into once the game is out, but I found it a bit troubling that you can't even pause the game without it trying to connect online.

Just Cause 3 (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

As bad as the load times are, they are nothing when compared to Just Cause 3's shoddy performance. As cool as it is to blow everything up on the screen, this comes at a massive cost. Once the action heats up, the frame rate has a tendency of dropping to an unbearable level. It goes beyond simple slowdowns and actually makes the game hard to play at times. And it's not an isolated situation; the inconsistent frame rate is a problem that affects nearly every section of this game.

And did I mention that Just Cause 3 is full of game breaking bugs? I had the PlayStation 4 disc crash on me several times, and that was only the start of the bugs. I ran into a number of cut scene problems and even a few situations where I found myself stuck in midair. Most of these problems can be fixed by reloading the last save, but it all adds up to a product that feels half-baked.

The painfully generic story doesn't help matters much. While I like the supporting cast, I wish they were given more to do. Too many of the missions play out the same way, with Rico either on an escort mission or fighting off an entire army all by himself. The story beats are all familiar and it doesn't build to anything spectacular. Anybody expecting a finale on par with Just Cause 2 will be sorely disappointed.

There's an amazing action game hidden behind all of the technical problems. New additions like the wingsuit and retracting tether make this the deepest, most compelling Just Cause yet. Unfortunately, the whole thing is nearly sunk by terrible slowdowns, rampant bugs and the longest load times I've seen since the Neo Geo CD. Rico Rodriguez may be the world's greatest spy, but his newest adventure is a big disappointment.
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