I'm playing Just Cause 2 right now. It's one of those open world go where ever you want sort of games, which I often struggle with. The funny thing is, I have done almost no actual missions, because wreaking havoc all over the island is just too much fun.
The idea of the game is that you are sent to the island of Panau to find a fellow "spook". And that's really it for guidance. Other than that, you are sort of on your own. You travel around the island (which is huge! It dwarfs the maps in Grand Theft Auto) and blow stuff up. It's just that simple.
One of the genius concepts of the game is that you progress (ie open new missions) by destroying things. As you cause explosions or kill soldiers you increase the Chaos level. Higher chaos means new missions. But here's the thing – I have played this game for more than 10 hours, and done exactly 2 missions. Another great idea, when you destroy something, it stays destroyed. It always bugs me when blow up something in GTA, and it is gone shortly thereafter.
The beauty of Just Cause 2 is exploring this wacky island (which takes microterrains to an absurd extreme – going from massive snow covered mountains to verdant jungle to desert). The map has dots all over it with "unexplored settlements" you don't know if it's a village, a city, a military base, an airport, etc. When you find the spot you can start to blow things up (it's hard to underscore just how much fun this is..)
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the game is it's loose grasp of the laws of physics. You have a ridiculous grappling hook that allows you to bounce all over like Spider man. You also have a magic parachute that comes and goes as you wish. This means you can jump off a skyscraper, float placidly towards the ground, close the chute and start to hurtle towards the ground and then use your grappling hook to land safely on a nearby rooftop. It's hilarious and great fun.
There are a few things about the game that are sub optimal (the voice acting in particular is almost so bad it's good, but not quite..), but for me they are obviated by the sheer scope of things to do. The wide open world, full of things to find. According to the game, I have driven over 50 kilometers in the game, but still never made it to the other side of the island.
Whether blowing up a government gas station, pulling down a statue of the dictator or driving a motorcycle off a cliff to parachute to safety, Just Cause 2 has hit a chord with me. I love driving around the landscape, noticing all the little touches (all the street and highway signs are in the native language, the dictator routinely makes bizarre announcements over loudspeaker from propaganda trailers, and (my favorite) the local news releases hilarious denouncements of your actions.) If you like the open world of Grand Theft Auto, the loony freedom of Crackdown and the destruction fun of Red Faction, Just Cause 2 is one to check out.
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