There’s plenty of games nowadays that have ambitions to be cinematic and dramatic experiences. There are many titles out there with the aim to emulate the style of movies and there’s even a few out there that succeed. And however nice these games can be, every once in a while, you just want to have fun. Video games for the sake of enjoyment and creativity are certainly not forgotten but it’s rare that you find one with the backing of a AAA budget. These titles are worth looking out for though because when you do find it, it can be an incredibly fun time.
Just Cause 4 is, you guessed it, the fourth entry in the long-running open-world sandbox franchise. Rico Rodriguez is heading to Solis in South America in order to figure out the details behind his father’s death. To get to that truth, he’ll have to contend with thousands of Black Hand members, tons of heavily equipped vehicles, and even Mother Nature occasionally. This game runs on the new Apex engine and you can really see the engine flexing its muscles with new weather effects and wildlife. Aside from that though, the game itself looks gorgeous and you might just find yourself distracted by the rolling vistas while you’re gliding through.
"Just Cause 4 retains the grapple hook of its predecessors but it adds new layers to the tool."
Gameplay in Just Cause 4 should be familiar to fans of the series. In this title, you dart about from place to place, blowing things up and trying to push back against the Black Hand that has taken hold over Solis. There is a story here along with some fun characters to meet and shoot, but they never get in the way of the actual gameplay. Missions really only exist to move you along to the next area of the map and, while some of them have pretty exciting objectives, there’s also a few stinkers in there. Just Cause 4 gives you plenty of weaponry to find and a whole lot of vehicles to rampage around in. This approach to gameplay is more like a big box, with plenty of toys to play around with. In general, if you can think of it, you can probably do it. Nothing is better than looking at a heavy lifter on the side of the road and using it to crush your enemies while they try to get away in their truck.
Just Cause 4 retains the grapple hook of its predecessors but it adds new layers to the tool. In this game, you can still attach anything to anything else with your Retractor hook, sure, but you also have your disposal the new Air Lifter and Booster hooks. These allow you to attach balloons to your enemies and attach boosters that propel enemies forward, respectively. These attachments open up huge amounts of creative expression in the game. They also let you just send some NPC’s flying if you’re so inclined. You’re given three loadout sets that you’re free to customize to your heart’s content. You can freely mix and match these hooks in these sets, creating any number of combinations you could want. You can also set the speed and force with which these hooks operate, allowing an insane amount of control over your tools. To top it off, these loadouts can be swapped out in real-time without the need for any pace-breaking pauses. Considering how often you’ll be using all of these different hooks through the game, this is a good thing.
"The world you get to explore is vast and contains four distinct biomes. You’ll be trotting across dense jungles,spacious deserts, snowy mountains, and vast grasslands during your time in Solis, all full of wildlife."
One of the greatest things that Just Cause 4 has going for it is the movement system. For such an important aspect of a title, not many developers really put much stock into just how players are going to move around in the space they’ve created. In Just Cause 4, you’ve gotplenty of tools to keep your gameplay kinetic and exciting. Your parachute lets you float and steer accurately but isn’t all too fast in terms of getting around. You wingsuit fills in this role, trading ease of steering for the ability to quickly cover ground. Combine both of these with your grapple hook, which can either send you to a specific point or slingshot you off into the distance, and you’ve got a dynamic movement system. Funnily enough, the closest comparison that I can come up with would be the cape from Super Mario Bros. 3. And, after a good bit of practice, it feels just as good to pull off successfully. Though it may be unwieldy at first and you’ll end up crashing in embarrassing ways for the first few hours, once you’ve got the hang of it, it’ll be like second nature.
The world you get to explore is vast and contains four distinct biomes. You’ll be trotting across dense jungles, spacious deserts, snowy mountains, and vast grasslands during your time in Solis, all full of wildlife. Each biome has its own identity and its own hardships. You might be suddenly interrupted by a lightning storm while flying through the mountainous alpines or you could find yourself smack in the middle of a sandstorm out in the desert. However, one of the biggest adversities the game will throw your way will be the tornado. These beasts rampage through at random and can be spotted from quite a distance off if you’re in the mood to hunt them down. Once you’re in the thick of it, tornados will throw around both hostile and friendly forces, tearing down bridges and chucking around trucks all the while. This can force you to quickly adapt when you’re in a firefight and adds some dramatic tension to any situation.
As you progress through Solis,you’ll have a few more things other than flying and shooting to hold your attention. Rico is constantly trying to push the Black Hand out of areas and this leads into the new “Frontline” feature. You have to move your rebel forces through and overthrow the Black Hand in certain areas of the map, which in turn unlocks new weapons and equipment for you to play around with. You’ll also be able to see these battles pan out in person and even join in if you want to flyover and take in the spectacle.
Doing missions for the three mainside-characters in the game will also unlock new modifiers for Rico’s grapple hook. These all just augment your Air Lifter, Retractor, and Booster, but they are really intended for players who want complete control over their chaos. When I saw there was a modifier that allowed you to specify the time the booster stays active for and for how long, I immediately thought of the several creative Youtube videos that will undoubtedly be spawned from this title.