Just Cause 2 Preview (PC)

You’ve got to admire Rico Rodriguez, swarthy star of Just Cause and all-round, super spy, badass and fiery Latino lover. He is for all intents and purposes, the Latino James Bond. Not only is he cool and calm in a heated gunfight, he’ll happily leap off a vertigo-inducing cliff edge with nary a passing thought for self-preservation. 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 Square Enix Europe logo since the Japanese giant bought out the struggling publisher – we’re led past Rhona Mitra’s rubbery Lara Croft costume, lovingly presented in a glass cabinet, through reception and into a room where the game is wired up and ready to go.

Just look at that sunset…
Now there's something you don't see every day.

Starting proceedings with a hands-off demonstration of an intense rescue mission, we see 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 mania, featuring a frantic gun battle (complete with casual chat), a head-to-head with a tooled up helicopter and numerous teeth-shattering explosions.

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

Taking Rico to the sunny climes of Panau island in Southeast Asia, our hero is now rocking a fully integrated parachute and grapple combo that allows him to tether objects or enemies to any object and traverse around his environment at speed like a tooled-up Spidey. The scope for experimentation is immense 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. And you can always call in the black market weapons merchant - Mercenaries style – who’ll sell you additional weapons, upgrades and vehicles to help you on your merry way.

Anything bearing the crimson star of Panau’s ruthless dictator Baby Panay is fair game for destruction, so tearing into water towers, pylons, propaganda stands or any other marked object adds to your chaos gauge, eventually unlocking additional missions on your map for you to attempt.

“Look mum! I can fly!”
Iceman has had enough of Maverick.

Our hands-on initially takes us to a heavily guarded military base, where we decide to adopt the loud in, loud out approach, swooping in by attack chopper, attracting too much hostile attention for our own good. After a few prompt deaths, we learn our lesson and call in the weapons merchant to upgrade our guns and treat Rico 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 compound where we eject from the cockpit, deploying our parachute and floating into the danger zone all guns blazing.

Brilliantly, our ridiculously brazen strategy pays off; getting us in close enough to the surface entrance to an underground installation where Rico needs to plant an explosive. Getting in is relatively 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 evaporates. Grappling our way from wall to wall as fast as we can, trying to dispatch as many remaining guards as humanly possible on the way out, we barely escape in the nick of time, giving us a brief second to turn and admire our handiwork as the bunker becomes a smouldering 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 promises snowy mountainous regions, sun baked deserts and verdant jungles, 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 tasty red speedboat with go-faster stripes awaits.

Pouncing behind the speedboat’s wheel, we dash across the sparkling waters to the waypoint, bailing out as we hit the shore, anchoring a zipline to a tree which pulls us in as we unfurl our chute once more and drift to safety, leaving behind a flaming boat-shaped shell. Nice.

Scaling a high-rise tower via the roof of an external elevator, we reach a set of broadcast dishes that have to be adjusted to send out a message for a rebel faction we’re working for, which means more busting heads and pinging guards off the edge of the building using our tether.

Rico can clamber all over vehicles, plant charges on them and pull the drivers out.
What is Rico thinking here?

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 dish, which needs to be blown to smithereens (naturally) in order to finish the mission. Placing charges at two highlighted weak points, we then make our way to the precarious edge of the protruding antenna before leaping off, detonating the explosives as the camera smoothly pans around in front of Rico to follow him on his descent as a ball of orange flame erupts above him in a fantastically cinematic moment reminiscent of a brilliantly bombastic action movie.

And so ends our hands-on session that despite its brevity has managed to leave us feeling incredibly excited about Just Cause 2’s prospects. If the rest of the game can measure up to the sheer audacious excellence of what we’ve experienced so far, Swedish developer Avalanche most definitely have a hit on their hands.

Just Cause 2 will be exploding onto Xbox 360, PS3 and PC late March 2010.


By Revan (SI Elite) on Dec 04, 2009
Cool! I see the boats and choppers are back again. :)
By Evmeister (SI Newbie) on Dec 05, 2009
Can't wait for this game to come out!
By Nookie (SI Member) on Dec 15, 2009
i played a bit of the first one but this one looks a lot better so i might have to get it...
By Pototox (SI Core Member) on Dec 15, 2009
Totally getting it...!