Just Cause 4 Review

Richard Walker

This year has been a bit of a barnstormer for open-worlds, what with Red Dead Redemption II, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and others showing what can really be done when a studio is firing on all cylinders, given due time and resources to craft something special. Just Cause 4 feels like an open-world game that hasn't been afforded that luxury, its expansive island paradise of Solis lacking the same degree of polish and attention to detail that raises a game world to another level.

Just Cause 4 isn't a bad game. In fact, it's every bit as fun and riotously knockabout as the previous entries in the series, despite not really doing much with the core concept that's all that new or exciting. This is more of an iteration over JC3, adding refinements and neat little features over sweeping changes. Even the story is reheated, seeing Rico Rodriguez facing off against yet another oppressive, militarised regime that has the island firmly grasped in its iron grip. Except this time, the baddies are using weather to keep the population in check.

Hence, it falls to you (again) to zip around using your grappling hook, parachute and wingsuit, making anything and everything that has red painted on it explode. You'd think that by now, the bad guys would have learnt to stop painting explosive stuff bright red, but they haven't. What follows is the same tried-and-tested Just Cause process of generating chaos, which this time feeds into a persistent 'Army of Chaos' gauge that levels up and rouses more and more rebel forces to your (just) cause.

This is Just Cause 4's primary twist: as you gain more allied forces to fight at your side, your sphere of influence will gradually spread across Solis' map as the frontline expands outwards with your advance. It's actually a really nice touch that engenders a palpable sense of progression, as territory after territory turns from evil red to a friendly pale green/blue. It's also a smart way of slowly unfurling the game's sprawling map bit by bit, rather than plunging you headfirst into a massive sandbox with a bunch of guns and gadgets.

Venturing off-the-leash is still an option, and much of your time in Just Cause 4 will be spent neutralising enemy bases so that your band of colourful, tie-dyed misfits can take over and fortify. JC4 also has three distinct side threads to pursue when you're not working alongside close friend Mira and old agency buddy Tom Sheldon, with stunts to perform for movie director Garland King, lost artefacts to recover for lover of antiquities Javi, and training exercises for Sargento and your army of rebels.

As ever, there's no shortage of havoc to create across Solis, and no shortage of vehicles, weaponry and tools with which to wreak it. But Just Cause 4 is essentially more of the same, and not particularly accomplished from a technical standpoint. While the frame rate is stable when you're exploring the open-world and making things go boom, it inexplicably chugs when you're watching in-engine cut-scenes, which suffer from odd lighting bugs that make hair shimmer and eyes glow eerily, like Rico is one of the Children of the Corn.

Character models in general are ugly, Sheldon now looking like Noel Edmonds in a Hawaiian shirt, and nefarious, weather-wielding villain Oscar Espinosa resembling a Team America puppet. Obviously, this doesn't really matter all that much, as you're probably not going to be playing Just Cause 4 for its story, which attempts to inject some drama and emotion into proceedings by getting Rico's father involved. Turns out papa Rodriguez was instrumental in developing Espinosa's weather control technology, giving rise to not-so-mysterious meteorological events across the normally sunny Solis.

Violent electrical storms give way to swirling tornadoes that tear a destructive furrow across the island, but ultimately, it doesn't really amount to much beyond a handful of short-lived set-pieces and then the ability to toggle each weather effect on and off once you've finished each campaign operation. Wild weather does little to alleviate the repetition of Just Cause 4's objectives too, with the gameplay loop seeing you clear out bases and cause chaos to unlock a story mission. This primarily involves throwing breaker switches, hacking consoles, or destroying generators, turbines, signal jammers, and that's about it.

The only mission variety comes from the game's side activities for the aforementioned Garland, Javi and Sargento, which in turn unlock new mods for your grappling hook and tethers. Of course, there's plenty of joy to be wrung out of the traversal and Rico's toybox filled with gadgets and tricks, including the ability to now tailor your own grappling hook loadouts. You can string enemies to balloons and send them rocketing into the sky, tether two helicopters together and watch as they ping together and explode. The possibilities for mayhem offered by the grapple and tethers never gets old, and leaderboards for your various 'feats' also keep things interesting.

Just Cause 4's island is beautiful, despite the odd instance of pop-in and the occasional scenery bug; trees and mountains stretching for miles in every direction, greenery giving way to snowy peaks and sandy desert plains. But stupid enemy AI that's happy to queue up in an orderly fashion to die, a disposable story, repetitive missions and lacklustre presentation overall make Just Cause 4 feel rushed and rather shoddy overall. If it's chaos and action you crave, however, then Rico's latest escapade will still leave you breathless. And maybe a bit disappointed.

Just Cause 4

A sequel that on paper had huge potential, Just Cause 4 is unfortunately a bit shabby and light on genuinely new ideas, beyond the novelty of lightning storms and tornadoes. The core gameplay remains good, explosive fun, but Rico is evidently running out of steam.

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The music can be a little too intense at times, you might be compelled to turn the volume right down. Voice acting is solid enough, although the soundtrack as a whole is serviceable at best.


As yet another vibrant island playground, Solis is lovely to behold, even if bugs and a choppy frame-rate conspire to ruin the party. Character models, meanwhile, look bloody awful, with dodgy hair glitches and ropey textures.


Being Rico is still oodles of fun, the grappling hook loadouts and suite of toys ensuring you're having fun most of the time. Planes, trains, and automobiles are all enjoyable too and traversal remains a joy.


Repetitive mission structure means you'll be bored silly in no time, while there's a lack of polish in almost every department. Just Cause 4 feels rushed, and as such, it's a bit buggy and rough around the edges.


One for completists with the requisite patience to explore every region, complete every mission, clear every base, and mess around with the game's grappling hook loadouts and feats. And the Cow Gun. A decent enough list.

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