Our Verdict
Still gives the series’ sandbox mayhem, but is underserved by some pretty dated combat and design ideas.

NEED TO KNOW

The facts? A silly physics sandbox occur South America.
Developer Avalanche Studios
Publisher Square Enix
Multiplayer No
Be prepared to pay $50/£40
Reviewed on Intel Core i7-6700HQ @2.6GHz, 16GB DDR4 RAM, GeForce GTX 1070 (laptop)
Link Official site

The Just Cause series includes a knack for holding your attention in a nutshell bursts. It can make you brace yourself as you wingsuit so near mountains you could taste the snow-spray, and grapple-hook up to helicopters to flee the mushrooming flames of exploding bases. In addition, it offers you the freedom to tether a goat to a balloon, hook yourself about it, and float off in to the stratosphere.

The truth is, while there are many new twists in only Cause 4, it’s more often than not the same kind of shtick, which is more evident than ever before this time around round. Just Cause hasn’t really known how to proceed with itself when the adrenaline dies down and you have an instant to catch your breath. Its map-painting missions are protracted, its basic systems are creaky, plus some of its design changes are ill-advised.

And yet, because of some sparing improvements-mostly in the form of chaos-causing gizmos-Just Cause 4 continues to be with the capacity of charming me. For all its annoyances, it still says if you ask me, with a mischievous twinkle in its eye, ‘Yeah, but do other games enable you to do that high calibre of silly shit?’ Which of course they don’t really, if you don’t count previous games in the series.

You are again Rico Rodriguez, a freelance super-agent, and one-man flashpoint for revolutions on seemingly every dictator-run tropical island he drops into. This time around, Rico’s helping liberate the South American island of Solis, a vast paradise of several beautiful biomes whose persons are oppressed by dictator Oscar Espinosa and his Black Hand army. It ties in to the plots of the prior games (for anybody that truly cares), and includes a dash of light intrigue too because of a reference to Rico’s father, who inadvertently helped the dictator harness the factors and weaponise the elements. It’s lightweight, but good-humoured and well-written enough to tick along with.

It’s you to wrest back control of the island. Where in previous games you did this by just creating enough destruction in confirmed region, this time around Avalanche has attemptedto inject somewhat more depth in to the process. Each region includes a specific mission you need to complete, as soon as you’ve done that you could contact squads of revolutionaries-unlocked by destroying enemy infrastructure and capturing certain regions-to manage it. The complete map is open that you can explore right away, but you can only just move these squads into regions neighbouring those under your control, making that map-painting process a bit more focused than before.

This macro-scale layer gives an appearance of strategy, with the amounts of squads in regions and frontline markers teasing the opportunity of a sort of Risk-like territory game, nonetheless it never follows through with it. Head to the frontlines and you will sees skirmishes in the middle of your squads and the enemy, but it’s all for show, as the enemy can’t actually retake territory from you, as well as your side’s progress is dictated solely by Rico’s renegade activities.

And it’s really of course these activities, not the pseudo-strategy twaddle, that will be the real reason persons play Just Cause. The series knows given that it’s determined by the sort of all-action spectacle which makes Mission Impossible appear to be the most stolid of John le Carre novels.

So it is expanded the player’s arsenal with from drone-firing railguns to weather-harnessing super-weapons, such as a wind cannon that enables you to invisibly blow away whole squads of enemies and structures, and the lightning gun, which not merely zaps enemies but can create mini lightning storms that fry everything in its perimeter. Also you can now contact several planes simultaneously to drop a vast selection of weapons and heavy artillery, providing you the freedom to carefully turn Just Cause 4 right into a vibrant warzone of ragdolls and explosions once you like.

Then there’s the all-important tether: the tool that single-clawedly set the series on its path of physics-based excess. Allowing you attach objects and persons to the other person for all types of showcases of physics silliness, and it’s really received a welcome upgrade. There’s still the retractor which enables you to, say, string several helicopters together and send them twirling into one another. Joining it now could be the ‘Air Lifter’ balloon tether, which enables you to attach several balloons to objects and send them off to orbit, and ‘booster’ tethers, which send their hapless targets fizzing around uncontrollably like cheap fireworks from your own local convenience store.

The old upgrade system has been largely replaced, with many once-unlockable skills available these days from the off, and a fresh mix-and-match tether loadout system. Here you might have three different tether loadouts, with each one containing whatever mixture of balloon, rocket and retracting tethers you prefer.

It’s an excellent call, going all-in on the sandboxy spirit of the series despite the fact that none of the stuff is necessarily practical in a combat sense. You can unlock fine-tune features like making your tether balloons explode on a trigger, or put in a ‘Power Yank’ to your retractor, making even heavy vehicles collide together like toys in the hands of a sugar-crazed child. It provides new degrees of playful opportunity that I’m sure persons a lot more patient and imaginative than myself will exploit to create for a few incredible YouTube highlight reels. Just Cause 4 was created around these possibilities, though that comes at the trouble of a well-paced wider game.

Just Cause 4 still taps into that require for reckless abandon that resides in every gamers, but its impact is softening

Rico remains a weightless spiderman, retaining that joyous, nonsensical method of getting around that depends on well-timed sequences of grapple-hooking, parachuting and wingsuiting. It still feels breezy and liberating, although novelty has faded for insufficient any major improvements in this area.

On the floor, though, Rico remains stiff in the joints, without capability to sprint, dodge, or perform melee attacks with any real menace. Guns lack weight and punchy sound files, enemies are incorporeal and floaty as though half their insides have already been replaced with helium, and driving remains awkward. Even Rico’s animations and the floppy ragdoll animations look as janky and unrefined because they always were, which is less palatable in 2018 compared to the last game in 2015, or simply Cause 2 this year 2010.

Performance

Just Cause 4 maintains steady framerates on my 1080p notebook computer even through the largest explosions, but its pretty world is blighted by ugly pop-in plus some broken AI behaviour.

Progression is achieved mainly through territory-taking missions, which is however the weakest, most protracted the main game. It’s a tiny carousel of objectives that vary between searching for consoles (so many consoles), standoffs against mindless waves of enemies while someone ‘hacks a terminal’, ‘overloads a core’ or other cyber-clichés, and needing to search large parts of base for barely discernible structures like generators and fuse boxes, which start drab underground bunkers.

The theory was presumably to provide these missions more of a ‘Special Operations’ feel compared to the simple destructathon of before, nonetheless they screw up the pacing, especially as Just Cause 4’s mechanics are unwieldy for smaller spaces and fiddly activities. It generates way too many tedious comedowns from the bursts of action that the overall game thrives in.

The story missions are more carefully constructed, with some excellent set pieces where you’re chasing tornadoes, or dashing through deserts amid a sandstorm. But even then things will get the wrong sort of chaotic, such as for example during one chase sequence where enemy cars and choppers were spawning and literally piling over the other person to access me so quickly that it took me about 5 minutes to find an opening to find yourself in a vehicle. It’s as though Avalanche sometimes just cranks up the chaos slider (that i totally envision among the studio’s design tools) without much design or thought behind it.

The volume of destructible structures-one of the extremely selling points of the series-seems to have already been decrease from previous games. The generic bases that lots of missions happen in are populated mainly by concrete buildings, with fewer of these brittle metal frameworks that so splendidly collapse like matchstick houses. That is accompanied by the other strange decision to remove throwable C4, replacing it with the rather rare mine launcher. Where before manipulated explosions were always a choice thanks to a wholesome way to obtain C4, here they’re more of an extravagance, which appears as an unnecessary thing to reel in.

Not that Just Cause 4 is without explosiveness, so when the fuel tankers careen over the ground or vehicles explode in seemingly endless chains, it still stokes up a familiar feeling of awe. It is possible that the introduction of new weather events like sandstorms, lightning storms and tornadoes was designed to shift the focus from just smashing stuff up (which did eventually get tedious in previous outings). It’s an acceptable trade-off, regardless if the extreme weather is too infrequent to condition the overall game as much these were vaunted to.

Just Cause 4 ups the surplus just enough to escape with the actual fact that its groaning framework feels about one firm tether yank from collapsing. It still gives the varieties of uniquely gamey thrills that seem to be to have already been serendipitously borne of gravity-defying glitches, however when the smoke clears and you regain your senses, the underlying shonkiness of the missions and basic ways you connect to the overall game is laid bare.

With so much adventure-holiday-with-guns fun to be enjoyed here, it’s frustrating that Avalanche is content to just gloss over existing issues instead of fix them (couldn’t the studio have even looked at its Mad Max game for methods to increase the vehicle mechanics and melee combat?). Just Cause 4 still taps into that require for reckless abandon that resides in every gamers, but its impact is softening. I’ve a good a long time of tethering tomfoolery left in me, but once I put it down, I cannot see myself time for this series until it gets the refurbishment it deserves.