Just Cause 3 Review

Richard Walker

Rico Rodriguez is an unstoppable force of nature. He's a man who can faceplant into the ground at 100 miles per hour or fall from a clifftop onto his head, only to get up and carry on kicking ass. Of course, he's a “dictator removal specialist” too, and as you'd expect, that means another nefarious despot with a shit-eating grin to be overthrown by any means necessary. Or by blowing everything up across Just Cause 3's 400-square mile radius.

There's some narrative fluff about the mining of a precious material called Bavarium, that in the wrong hands spells doom for Rico's native land of Medici, but all you really need to know is that there's a bad, moustachioed man called Di Ravello oppressing the island's people, and you're the only one who can free them using the business end of a rocket launcher, a wrist-mounted grapple, infinite parachutes, some tethers and a wingsuit.


Once again, Just Cause 3, like Just Cause and Just Cause 2 is pure action movie-style wish fulfilment, with a nigh-on invulnerable hero and near inexhaustible arsenal of tools and weaponry designed for the express purpose of wreaking chaos and making things go boom in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. Just Cause 3 has all of the key ingredients that made its predecessors such delirious fun, as well as a few new additions to the recipe. But the final result is not quite the home-run you might have expected it to be.

Just Cause 3's gameplay mechanics are robust, the open-world of Medici is vast and beautiful, yet Avalanche's series has failed to move forward in any particularly meaningful way. While the core conceit of digging out General Di Ravello's forces with a big gun, blasting big red objects remains an unbridled joy, it soon becomes a bit repetitive, and the game has been structured in such a way that you can't simply focus upon completing the narrative.

At certain junctures, you have to liberate a designated number of provinces before you progress, and within each of Medici's numerous regions lie dozens of settlements, military bases, mining operations, and outposts to be cleared out and freed one at a time. It soon grows a tad wearisome, and is made all the more annoying thanks to the sheer number of soldiers, helicopters, boats, jeeps, jets and tanks that inexorably make a beeline for you once you kick the proverbial hornet's nest.

Some of JC3's weakest missions involving escorting a target or protecting precious cargo of some description are also horribly designed, with ridiculously unfair fail states. The less said about the mission in which you have to defend cargo from the wall of one of your bases, the better. In a nutshell, it's the most interminable wave-based nonsense imaginable. And upon failure, you also get to endure a protracted loading screen, just to add insult to injury. There are one too many missions like this for my liking.

Throw in the odd glitch here and there to muddy the waters (even post-day one patch), and you have a game that can be an air-punching delight one minute before eliciting controller-hurling rage the next. Minor oversights like the lack of a sprint button can be an annoyance too, but it's forgiveable given the number of other traversal options at your disposal. Like, for instance, the awesome new wingsuit that virtually grants Rico the power of flight.

The opportunities for havoc also presented by the range of weaponry, vehicles and the new tethers are really what make Just Cause 3, and upon liberating each zone, you're given even more instances in which to revel in the insanity. Challenges revolving around the wingsuit, racing in cars, planes, choppers or boats, destruction, weapon proficiency, or even dragging Bavarium rocks using a magnet into a big bowl, offer additional gameplay beyond the story-driven bits. And bagging high scores earn 'gears' that in turn unlock mods for every facet of the game.

This is Just Cause 3's secret sauce, imbuing vehicles with nitrous and turbo jump abilities, as well as upgrades to Rico's fortitude, his tethers, weapons and more. You can also toggle these mods on and off, essentially enabling you to tailor your gameplay experience, to a degree. It's a neat addition that adds an extra layer to proceedings, and encourages you to get embroiled in a leaderboard ruckus with your friends.

There are other ambient challenges that pop up too, showing where you stack up against the community in consecutive headshots, longest wingsuit glides, how far you catapulted a baddie with Rico's tethers and more. Again, it's another competitive element that prods you in a different direction, beyond simply cruising from pillar to post, clearing out bases and settlements, or completing story missions.

A rare moment of reflective serenity. Now blow it up.

It's almost impossible not to have fun playing Just Cause 3. Tearing things down, pulling helicopters out of the sky and so on with multiple tethers is without exception a blast and the mods add extra spice to an already incendiary cocktail of explosions and wanton destruction. Granted, there's the occasional glitch and some weird tics with the game's physics, but given the scale of Just Cause 3's gorgeous open-world, the sheer enjoyment factor just about manages to outweigh the irritants.

Some of the achievements feed into that spirit of enjoyment (emphasis on some), with Gamerscore awarded for performing various feats, like beating every challenge score to earn every gear and mod, although the majority of tasks unfortunately involve story completion and collectibles. For a game that prides itself on creativity using its destructive toolset, the achievement list does little to capitalise on that premise, choosing instead to focus upon the grind that comes with getting to 100%. Meh.

It doesn't reinvent the wheel or even build upon its predecessors all that much, but Just Cause 3 remains a solid and entertaining piece of video game popcorn, even if some of its activities prove somewhat repetitious, certain missions fail to hit the mark and the story isn't particularly engaging. Simply revelling in Just Cause 3's devotion to exacting fiery vengeance upon yet another dictator is where its strengths lie, and few games manage to conjure such moments of total, mirth-inducing carnage. Just Cause 3 is no revolution, but then perhaps that ultimately doesn't really matter.

Just Cause 3

Predictably enjoyable, Just Cause 3 is as big and ballsy as its forebear, but doesn't push the envelope quite enough. Yet, if it's action and explosions you seek, then look no further. Just Cause 3 is still the most fun you can have with a gun, a grapple and infinite parachutes. Boom.

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A nice acoustic soundtrack and some decent voice performances make for a perfectly unobtrusive aural landscape, even if it's not particularly outstanding.


A game that rustles up some breathtaking vistas, Just Cause 3 is certainly pretty. However, an occasionally choppy frame rate and the rare glitch spoil the party a little bit.


Some of Just Cause 2's best bits like being able to clamber all over vehicles have been nixed, but the wingsuit and tether mayhem makes up for it. What's here is good, but controls can be more than a little fiddly at times.


The majority of JC3 is good stuff (and there's a lot of it), but the escort and protect missions will test your patience. Limitations on fast travel (you need to light shrines or have flares), as well as a lack of compelling moments during the story can make parts of the game a bit of a slog.


A list with only a smattering of creative achievements seems criminal for a game like Just Cause 3. This list is primarily focused upon completion and hoovering up every collectible. A wasted opportunity.

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