Avalanche Studios caught the eye way back in September 2006 when they released Just Cause to the action & adventure genre. Now some years on and further developments to the Avalanche Engine, Just Cause 2 is set to pick up the pieces from the trail of devastating destruction that agent Rico Rodriguez had left behind.

The 3rd person action takes place on the island of Panau, a rather picturesque holiday destination it would seem. However the presence of the wandering militia does raise the suspicions of the under-lying discontentment of the local population.

Rico’s mission involves the search of an agent gone ‘bad’, a former commanding officer by the name of Tom Sheldon – once a friend & mentor. Sheldon’s crime involved the theft of top-secret intelligence and millions in Agency cash. Once found Rico has been ordered to perform an execution.

Rico can be controlled via traditional mouse and keyboard or by using an Xbox controller if you are more adept to that method of control. Key configurations are similar across all vehicles although you may need to get to grips with aircraft control, this in turn rewards you with some amazing views as you fly undeterred across Panau.

Rico is presented with a stunning variety of Agency weaponry and vehicles as well as the default parachute & grappling hook which are an important feature of the game. Dotted around Panau are various resources that include weapon, vehicle and armour parts. These in turn may be used to upgrade equipment to further enhance their capabilities. Cash boxes provide the finances to purchase resources from the black market and enable you to call up your guy-in-the-sky to air drop equipment as and when needed. You can even call for extraction if things get a little too hot.

The great thing with Just Cause 2 is the fluidity of travel, the shackles of linear play have been broken – assignments can be picked at although there are some missions that need to be fulfilled to further unlock the on-going storyline and island areas.
Grab a plane and the skies are the limits, it’s quite amazing how high you can go and the stunning views eliminate feelings of giddiness at altitude – still feeling brave? Jump out and free fall, you can almost feel your face folding in as you soar towards the ground, making sure to pull the rip cord and glide in on your Agency issued parachute. Vehicles can be stolen GTA style and driven to destruction.

One of the games fun features as found in a variety of action games is the ‘destruction’ element. There are a lot of objects in Panau that can be demolished – Dictatorship statue causing offence? Simple, attach one end of your grappling hook to the irritating article and the other end to a suitable vehicle (please don’t try the Tuk Tuk!), steady acceleration and in a cloud of dust the statue lies shattered earning some respectful ‘chaos’ points.

Chaos is the system to describe your trail of destruction on Panau; chaos scores unlock further missions and resources. However with chaos comes ‘heat’; this verb is the measurement in which the local militia take an active interest in you and I don’t mean they’re looking for an autograph! Eventually the situation will cool down and you can then roam Panau without the need to constantly engage in gun battles. There are also the faction groups in Panau to take into consideration, choose a faction, please them and they’ll offer you some assistance during skirmishes.

Some of the delightful experiences of the game include the vastness of the map and the scenic visuals. Score an achievement by standing on the peak of one of Panau’s highest mountains or feel the danger of placing explosives on the top of a massive smoking rocket, on a countdown to orbit.
There isn’t a place in the Just Cause 2 universe that Rico can’t get to using his forearm grappling hook – once mastered you can perform all sorts of tricks, offences and darn right foolish manoeuvres from catching a ride under a helicopter to dragging some unfortunate official behind a speeding truck, it’s all down to your imagination and zealous.

There are plenty of graphic & sound configurations to best suit your system, however I did find the Avalanche engine to be most forgiving and graphic quality can be pushed further than most games without the penalty of sluggish performance.
The environment is stunning and the detail exceptional, leaving you to wonder how this could all be possible; we can only thank Avalanche 2.0 for this experience.
One graphical highlight of the game is the water, amazingly realistic that you’d almost want to dip your toes into this crystal clear liquid. Even Rico comes out glistening with water in the tropical sunshine. Another element in this mix of delights is the day/night aspect with fantastic visuals of from dawn to dusk.
The audio fits this genre perfectly, shut your eyes and you’d be lulled into thinking you were watching a Jason Bourne film. Explosions crack from all angles, bullets ricochet and the pulsating soundtrack adjusts to the temperament of the situation.

In conclusion Just Cause 2 is a worthy addition to anyone’s collection. It offers long hours of game time, non-linear play and enough interesting mission elements to pursue as well as fifty available achievements. The game is committed to single player action only which is completely fair.
You may have to donate a little patience in the games controls when it comes to mastering the vehicles, steering wise the cars are not quite up to Forza level! However, overall the negatives are very slight and do not deter from a truly enjoyable game experience indeed.

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