This week, Yahtzee reviews Just Cause 4.
Remember a time in those rich and heady days before loot boxes, when the trees were still in bloom and your dick still worked? When a game like Just Cause 2 could sell itself on the largeness of its sandbox map? Before it had been established over and over again that there is most definitely such a thing as "too large a sandbox"? I'm glad you agree, Rockstar Games, but you just had to agree; you didn't have to make an entire fucking game illustrating my point!
Today, a big sandbox map barely caresses the interior walls of the fickle, novelty-obsessed public's vagina, and my first thought when I saw Just Cause 4 being announced was "...Wwhhyyy?" Surely, the character arc of agitator-liberator Rico Rodriguez reached a natural conclusion in the last game, when he agi-liberated his own home country, and there isn't much more that can be done in terms of spectacle; I've already seen what happens when an unstable foreign country builds all its fuel depots out of cardboard and oily rags. Silly me! I should have realized, it's a franchise still with name recognition and goodwill, so obviously, our corporate masters have to ruin it as part of the ongoing process of crushing our spirits and preparing us for the brain drills.
The first thing you'll note as you turn on Just 4's Core is that it kind of looks like grilled turds on sesame-seed buttock; the graphics are decidedly last-gen, and everyone kind of looks and animates like characters from Team America: World Police, appropriately enough, especially the CIA dude, Sheldon, sporting a silvery beard that looks like he just photobombed a frost giant bukkake shot. I wouldn't normally harp on graphics, since I like games like Obra Dinn that can be recreated with cum on a black bedspread, but I think it's appropriate for a game that's supposed to be about spectacle. I mean, this is the world that you insisted we all come and live in, AAA publishers; you're the ones making me update my graphics card drivers more frequently than I scratch my fucking bollocks! If you can't keep up with the cutting edge, then obviously, you should kill yourself; that's only fair. I mean, it's not like Just Cause 4 is selling itself on the fucking plot!
Rico's on yet another unstable island nation, and there's another dictator, I guess, related in some way to the previous one, but who fucking cares? He shows up once at the start and once at the end while he's getting killed, so he's about as resonant and impactful a character as the bloke who runs Rico's favorite denim jacket shop. Rico's initial attempt to explode his bollocks off fails as his bollocks are protected by a number of weather control devices, and so we must aid the local resistance in bringing them down one by one in preparation for a final, decisive bollock assault. But for the most part, the actual threat posed by the evil dictator is a rather conspicuous non-presence in the game; there's not much evidence of propaganda or oppression, and the resistance all seem to be holding up their wobbly table legs with spare assault rifles and helicopters.
It's one of those "liberate the districts"-style sandboxes, but the process of liberating a district is whatever the complete opposite of "spectacular" is. You do one samey mission, usually themed around guarding a computer while it slowly hacks something like an obsessive Best Buy employee in the post-apocalypse, and once that's done, you open the map, clumsily paw at the region like a cat watching Watership Down on an iPad, and bam! The resistance takes it over. You couldn't illustrate that a bit? Show us the enemy actually retreating? Children skipping hand-in-hand through a newly-vacated stronghold? A rainbow appears above a delicate, starry-eyed flower of girlhood being gaily spit-roasted? Fuck, any kind of perceivable difference would have helped, as I wingsuit unmolested across the land like a discarded johnnie in a fast-flowing water treatment facility; it would have been nice if I had any difficulty whatsoever gliding through non-liberated territory with my foreskin flapping in the wind.
For you see, another thing that removes any sense of threat from the game is that the villain's evil army of unstoppable stormtroopers would struggle to muscle a medium-sized dog into a vet's office. Rico Rodriguez must have licked enough lead-painted surfaces as a child to build up an immunity, as he shrugs off bullets like he's using a campsite shower unit. I know Just Cause has never been a series where you have to fret about self-preservation much, but I don't remember combat being so trivial as to be boring.
I eventually stopped bothering to open the exotic weapon crates that appear with more frequency than IKEA furniture in student housing, since I never needed anything but the two standard assault rifles the basic enemy soldiers use, what with every platoon that got called in to stop me representing a free ammo refill. Then they move up to calling in tanks, which Rico can steal more easily than he'd steal a parking space, and then come the helicopters, which can be destroyed in seconds by tethering them to the nearest solid object with the pull tether, whereupon they likely brush against said solid object and instantly detonate like a premature ejaculator on the set of Logan's Run. Which brings me to just about the only new gameplay Fuss Draws Core brings us: more things to do with tethers, which is appropriate, 'cos I'm at the end of mine (arf).
As well as the pull tether, you can attach thrusters and balloons to physics objects if you want to add a festive party atmosphere to the destruction; you can also micro-manage the effects with a wide variety of mods that, lacking any other kind of character upgrade system, are all that the game has to reward you with for completing side missions. Thing is, though, all that you really need is the pull tether at full strength; you can bring down most buildings with them without even needing explosives, and everything else is the territory of mindless Garry's Mod-style knockabout fun. Yes, it's mildly amusing to attach a balloon to a cow, watch it fly into the air, then pop the balloon and watch the cow slam face-first into a meadow, as you crow "Now that's what I call 'grass-fed beef'!", but none of it's any use for beating the game's challenges, and having you beat challenges to unlock it all feels like a misguided attempt to combine two audiences that want two different things, like tattooing gay porn onto a vagina.
All in all, Just 4 Cash strikes me as an incredibly unnecessary game, which I disinterestedly plowed through without slowing, as if I were merely rolling down a grassy hill on a mild spring afternoon. Still, finding a way to turn Just Cause, of all things, into something tedious is an achievement of sorts; it doesn't even end with a proper boss fight, just a bunch of helicopters, which were, of course, immediately brought down by the combined power of four bits of string and some suction cups.
I think they were planning to have a final boss fight; right at the end, the main bad guy activates his ultimate doomsday weapon while fleeing and goes, "Ha ha! Now you all will die!", and Rico jumps onto the doomsday weapon, and I think at that point, you were supposed to have a final boss fight with it, but I guess the office party clown's shift was almost over, and they had to quickly tie things up. So instead, still in the same cutscene, Rico just goes, "Here's an idea! Why don't we not get killed by the doomsday weapon?" And so, they don't. End of game. "Grawwr, curse you, Rico Rodriguez!" cries the main villain. "I am defeated once and for all!... somehow."
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