VTD – Just Cause 2

By: Ed Fenning

Published: March 7, 2010 Posted in: Demo Reviews

My name is Edrico Fennidor. 30 minutes ago I arrived on this sprawling Island of Gaminga Dailye, with naught but a pistol and a grappling hook. 29 minutes and 53 seconds ago I skipped the tutorialez, attached myself to a gas can on the second attempt and shot it propelling me 150 meters into the air. I then freefalled and parachuted my way to an army base half a kilometer away, where I grappling hooked onto a passing attack helicopter and laid waste to 15 buildings with its rockets and miniguns. 28 minutes ago two helicopters were sent to intercept me. I shot down the first before the second puta crippled my helicopter, where I flung myself from the wreckage and grappling hooked to theirs. Sitting on the front I edged out and shot the passenger before doing a Minigamingez to take over the cockpit. 27 and a half minutes ago I realise these controls don’t translate well to keyboard and mouse. That, and no-one should ever use poor Spanish sounding pun names in the opening paragraph of a review

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The Just Cause 2 Demo is out now on steam, and it gives you a timed 30 minutes in which to cause as much mayhem as possible and to try and unlock some goodies. Once the 30 minutes are up you’re treated to an advert and you have to start over from the tutorial again. This is annoying when you’re mid way through a mission, to suddenly be whisked back to the main menu (a nice sample of what Hoobysoft’s new DRM will feel like in Assassin’s Creed 2 and the ilk) but otherwise, it sets a nice frantic motion for the demo. It encourages you to keep moving, blowing up as many things as possible and to seek action.

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Just Cause 2 looks fantastic in the trailers, having many of us salivating with joy. Then I remembered the previous game, how crippled with consolitius and overambitionus it was and I suddenly became worried. What if this game is as difficult to control as a car with wheels made out of living puppies? What if the combat is as unsatisfying as a wank interrupted by your collective family? Are the accents worse than anything I could hope to produce in a Gaming Daily Podcast? The answer to these questions are: Still is a bit, combat actually achieves uninterrupted orgasm this time and yes, yes they are (slightly).

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Weapons no longer sound or feel like Spud guns, all of them in the demo feeling pretty fun to use. There’s two one handed weapon slots and a two handed weapon slot, giving you the option to either use one 1h gun or dual-wield or a rifle. Guns however aren’t really what you come to this game for though; you’d notice if they were crap (like the first) but so long as they’re doing their bit you can focus more on your toys. More specifically, the new and improved grapple. No longer used to just winch yourself up to passing helihoppers, it becomes a potent weapon and tool in its own right. Aim your grapple at a person, hold down the button and quickly aim it somewhere else and they are roped together. Person on Person? They get tugged together and hit one another. Person to car? Dragged along like a wild west form of torture. Person to high on a wall? They’re left to dangle whilst you hit them. Person to helicopter? Helicopter to Helicopter? Jet to helicopter? It goes on and on.

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Do not start fantasising too much over the possible uses of it however, as you may well be disappointed. You can only grapple one thing to another at a time, so no long amusing chains of people in a conga line. The line itself is pretty weak and liable to snap, plus has no collision for those wanting to garrote passing bikers. Perhaps one thing you should be prepared for mostly though is how fiddly it is to use initally. Aim at a moving target, hold down the button then try to throw your aim to some other point in time is about as easy to do as sewing with your feet. Expectations lowered? Good, as you’ll have tonnes of fun with it.

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Controlling the game is a step up from the original, but is still more designed for xboxian and joystickian inputs than keyboardese. Case in point, driving. Aside from trying to juggle LeftAlt for stunt jump and the F for grapple and E for use there’s one frustrating part of it for me; the space bar. The mainstay button for jumping in any game, it also activates your parachute here. Not wanting to change keys for in a vehicle this means the handbrake is now shifted to a differing key, the standard being X. For a handbrake turn this leaves you crunching your thumb into an awkward key pressing position and going against driving game instincts. Otherwise the driving feels a little flat, but does the job and soon livens up when you stunt jump from car to car in quick succession. The devastating helicopters do need an overhaul though in how they control, as though they can destroy buildings easily in quick succession they turn sluggishly and respond to lowering and raising as fast as my grandma with fake hips does to the doorbell. Why can’t all games with helicopters just copy the Battlefield way of helicopters? W = Up S = Down AD = turn ←→↑↓= Tilt.

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The one mission available (that you unlock after about 10-15 minutes rampage) shows off the game wonderfully. Where there are some who like having a sandbox world to play in and will ignore the missions, I like them as it lends a focal point to my mayhem. Random destruction and stunts on my own only feels entertaining for about an hour tops. Unfortunatley for the first time in a game I couldn’t care less about the plot, it was that hammily acted and dull. All you need to know is that shit needs blowing up, so hop to it and you’ll get fun scenarios to do crazier things in. The mission before you is to assault an Radar base, download some data after blowing people up for a bit then grapple onto a friendly helicopter which hovers you over a convoy to attack and hijack the lead car. There’s many ways to do it, but here was my way -

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When I caused enough Chaos to unlock the mission I was miles away from the point. Having already used up most of my money on blackmarket bikes (I’m a secret agent with a mid-life crisis) I had to find my own transportation from the middle of nowhere. The only thing to hand was a tractor courtesy of John Dierez (Cultural Ed Ed – Stop this already.). Not suitable transportation for a sexy latino agent you say? Well, nobody expects the Spanish Irrigation.

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Progress was going slow towards the objective so I pulled over at a services, murdered two people and shot a line into the stomach of another before attaching said line to the back of their car. I then dragged him along behind me as I made my way much faster this time towards the base.

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This turned out to be too fast, as along the road there was an army checkpoint. Swerve and weave though I did, I crashed into a tank barrier and started flipping sideways. Alot. All I could do was watch as the car rolled at 70mph about 8 times before flying into a building and killing someone stood infront of it. Then my car blew up, I had to kill about 20 men and carry on walking to the objective just to find my 30 minutes were up just before I got to the base. Take 2!

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Take two begins with the opening paragraph of this demo review. I use my favourite way to get around; unstable gas canisters with me attached to the side to climb up to a parachuting height. Needing to wrack up as much destruction as I can quickly, I make my way to the army base to nab a helicopter. Stuff starts getting blown up, including me, and I steal somebody elses chopper after mine is downed.

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Cue 10 minutes of me riding manically around to poor innocent villages and blowing up their water towers, electricity and fuel storages.

“Look El Thomastion! Salvationez!”
“But Papa, if that amigo is our salvation-”
“Salvationez”
“Yeah sure, Salvationez. If he is that, why is he blowing up all our reserves and utilities for a comfortable modern way of living in these harsh climates?”
“As they are the property of the la Govermental pigdogz my little hombre. Viva la Revaluationezatiez!”
“Padre…”
“Yes litte huan?”
“Goverment owned or not, we need those resources to survive and this stranger hasn’t provided any alternatives. He even shot madre in half with a helicopter minigun a moment ago.”
“Ah, my dear…urm…sonez. You have alot to learn about lifente I see”
“Dad, you can’t speak Spanish can you?”
“Nein”

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Occasionally RPGs will be shot at me from the ground or two helicopters at a time will be sent to hunt me. Annoyingly when hijacking a helicopter you can stick your gun right in the drivers face and shoot the windscreen out even, but the only way to get rid of them is to do a minigame. Come on, GTA III learnt that people wanted to be able to shoot drivers out and has had it in the series since Vice City. After destroying the lives of more innocents I finally unlock the mission again, and hop foot it over there in a bruised helicopter.

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I accidentally land on some villagers at the mission marker, but instead of crushing them they levitate up the sides of my helicopter. I don’t know what drug they’re being forced to grow instead of their own food crop and have accidentally inhaled whislt working the fields, but I want some. They like my helicopter so much that they stay standing up and in a normal conversation whilst I’m in mid-flight minigunning the same army checkpoint as earlier. Don’t let anybody tell you different, be terrified of Gypsies.

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Eventually I “park” ontop of the building I need to download data from, only to horrifyingly see the timer come up again with 10 seconds to go before the demo restarts and I yet again miss out on the fun car hijacking part. As I’m thrown back to the beginning again, I can’t say I mind alot. It gives me an excuse to blow stuff up again and craft more tales of stunts and improvised plans. As really, that’s what this game’s about. Seeing all the different things you can do within those same 30 minutes and restrictions is a brilliant way to show off a fantastic if slightly flawed game.

Ed Fenning