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Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 Hands On Preview - Getting It On With Rico

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You’ve got to admire Rico Rodriguez, swarthy star of Just Cause and all-round, super spy, badass and fiery Latino lover. Not only is he cool and calm in a heated gunfight, but he’ll happily leap off a vertigo-inducing cliff edge with nary a second thought. So it was in the first Just Cause and so it continues to be in the forthcoming sequel, which we recently had the rare chance of getting precious hands-on time with.

Visiting what was once Eidos’ HQ in London - the offices now bear the moniker of Square Enix Europe since the Japanese giant bought out the ailing company – we’re led past Rhona Mitra’s Lara Croft costume, lovingly stored in a glass cabinet, through reception and into a room where the game is set up and ready to go.

First we’re given a demonstration of an intense rescue mission, which sees Rico having to locate and extract one of his contacts - a drunken Swede by the name of Karl Blaine. The objective is the perfect intro to Just Cause 2’s Hollywood action movie inspired madness, featuring a fraught gun battle, a head-to-head with a tooled up helicopter and countless teeth-rattling explosions. 

Although the original Just Cause impressed with its vast open-world and exotic setting, the game was slightly too repetitive for some gamer’s tastes. Visually, Just Cause 2 outstrips its predecessor by some margin with an impressive draw distance, lush environments and an attention to detail missing from most sandbox titles, but it’s the sequel’s devotion to mission variety that will likely win the game the most plaudits.

Taking Rico to the brand new sunny climes of Panau island in Southeast Asia, our hero is now rocking a fully integrated parachute and zipline combo that allows him to tether objects or enemies to any object and traverse around his environment at speed, like Spidey. The scope for experimentation is huge, as you bind baddies to explosive barrels, suspend them from masts or catapult them from great heights.

Chaos is the watchword for Just Cause 2 and as such there’s more than ample opportunity to create it using the array of weaponry at your disposal. Anything bearing the crimson star of Panau’s ruthless dictator Baby Panay represents a target and so destroying water towers, pylons, propaganda stands or any marked object will increase your chaos gauge, eventually unlocking additional missions for you to attempt.

 
Our hands-on initially took us to a heavily guarded base, where we decide to adopt the loud approach by flying in by attack chopper, a method that attracted a little too much heat for our own good. After a few prompt deaths, we call in the weapons merchant to upgrade our guns and treat ourselves to a jet propelled light aircraft. Shooting off the edge of a precipice straight into flight, we zip across the island at speed until we’re directly over the military compound where we eject from the cockpit, deploy our parachute and float into the danger zone all guns blazing.

Brilliantly, our ludicrously brazen strategy pays off, getting us in close to the surface entrance to an underground installation where Rico needs to plant an explosive. Getting in is easy and planting the bomb simply requires a quick button prompt matching mini-game, but getting out is a tense race against time as the timer rapidly ticks away. We zip our way from wall to wall as fast as we can, trying to dispatch as many remaining guards as humanly possible on the way. Escaping in the nick of time, we have a brief second to turn and admire our handiwork as the bunker is transformed into a smoking crater.

Our first mission accomplished with stylish aplomb, our next objective appears on the map in the northernmost region of the island. While we could make our own way there via car, truck, motorcycle, plane or helicopter, it’s actually far quicker and more convenient to call in an extraction to make your way across what we’re told is 400 square miles of varied and expansive terrain. The finished game will feature snowy mountain regions, sun baked deserts and verdant jungle, which is where our next mission takes us. Jumping from the hovering extraction helicopter, the parachute comes into play once more as we majestically glide down to a beach, where a speedboat awaits.
 

Pouncing behind the speedboat’s wheel, we race to the waypoint, and in true Just Cause fashion, we bail out as we hit the shore by anchoring the zipline to a tree. As we reach break neck speed, we unfurl our chute once more and drift to safety, leaving behind the flaming boat-shaped shell. Nice. Next up we’re found scaling a high rise tower to reach a set of broadcast dishes that have to be adjusted to send out a message for a rebel faction we’re working for. Instead of whipping out our trusty zipline to scale the vertiginous structure, we jump atop an external elevator. Every man deserves a quick rest... even Rico Rodriguez.

Once we’re at the top, we rotate the dishes into the correct configuration, take out the patrolling guards and then make our way to the uppermost radar array, which needs to be blown to smithereens (naturally). Placing charges at two weak points, we then make our way to the edge, leaping off, before blowing the explosives in a fantastically cinematic moment reminiscent of a bombastic action movie.

With our hands-on demo over all too soon, we’re left feeling incredibly excited about Just Cause 2. Swedish developer Avalanche has clearly addressed the issues that marred the first game, improving the experience in almost every conceivable department.

Just Cause 2 will be skydiving into view sometime around spring 2010.




 
 

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US March 23, 2010
Europe March 26, 2010

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