Just Cause 3 is Just Ridiculous, and Just Fun

Just Cause 3
Just Cause 3. Square Enix

Sometimes, it’s hard to mount a defense for a guilty pleasure. “Just Cause 3,” now available for the PS4, is a ridiculous game. It’s padded and stretched narratively way past the breaking point. You will do the same things over and over and over again for its multi-hour running time. You will stop caring about the plot early. You will realize there are no characters at all—just cartoons. And you will keep waiting for the game to break open and give you something new to do, before realizing it never will. You will also have a stupid grin on your face most of the time, addicted to a game built around blowing things sky high. You will jump from a helicopter before it explodes into a building, shooting enemies as you parachute to the ground. You will throw grenades like Santa tossing candy from a parade float. You will tether a giant fuel tank to another giant fuel tank and hurl them at each other. It is the definition of guilty fun, a game that works for those who liked the insanity of “Bulletstorm” or “Just Cause 2.” Plot?

We don’t need no stinking plot.

And yet there is one, as thin as it is. You again play Rico Rodriguez, a one-man killing machine. How bad-ass is Rico Rodriguez? I knew I kinda loved “Just Cause 3” when I zip lined into a moving vehicle and not only did I not die—the car exploded. He runs around the islands of Medici with a rocket launcher strapped to his back, has an unlimited supply of explosives and is prepared to kill literally thousands to free his people. You see, Medici has been overtaken by a ruthless dictator named Di Ravello. For the vast majority of “Just Cause 3,” you are merely trying to take it back. To do so, you must liberate villages and army bases by, well, destroying them. Every location has a checklist of things to blow up, whether they be statues of Di Ravello, billboards with his likeness, or his fuel tanks. You can destroy them with firepower or use a very cool tether system in which you tether one thing to another and then allow physics to do its job.

To say that you will do the same things over and over again “Just Cause 3” just with different weapons is a massive understatement. Every village, every base, every mission looks essentially like the other ones. Sure, there are attempts at variety in the “challenges” (which are used to earn mods for your arsenal of weapons and vehicles) but the heart of the game is stunning, almost blatantly repetitive. And yet I didn’t care all that much. I found a bit of B-movie fun in the 123rd fuel tank I blew sky high even as I knew the developers missed something by not providing more diversity in gameplay and narrative. Eventually, “Just Cause 3” becomes not unlike a sports game. When you complete your 300th pass in “Madden NFL 16,” it’s something familiar but still enjoyable. The non-stop destruction of “Just Cause 3” has a similar effect.

It’s also worth noting that the physics of this game and the size of its world are spectacular. When you tether two things to each other or send a helicopter hurtling from the sky, it feels like it has three-dimensional weight to it. And the world reportedly has 400 square miles of setting to explore. There are times when it is literally too big to really comprehend, especially when you consider those 400 square miles have variation in elevation including underwater caves and mountains to climb. “Just Cause 3” is MASSIVE. So while you’re doing essentially the same thing across its terrain, the sheer scope of its environment alleviates the repetition.

“Just Cause 3” is one of those games about which it’s hard to form a decisive opinion. If you told me you hated it because of the paper-thin story and repetition, I’d totally understand. However, if you told me you loved it because of the non-stop action and B-movie thrills, I kind of get that too.