Review – Just Cause 4

As I booted up Just Cause 4 for the first time, I reminisced over about how much I loved the last game, despite its issues. Just Cause 4 manages to fix a lot of those problems and still keep it outrageous. I strapped a rocket booster onto a llama and sent the poor fella into orbit. A rocket-powered llama. I can’t make this stuff up.

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Those tornadoes aren’t as menacing as they look.

To call Just Cause 4 a proper sequel to Just Cause 3 is a bit of a stretch. The setting is new and the story follows Rico still hunting down the Black Hand in a new dictator infested Latin country. But it ended up feeling like little more than Just Cause 3 in a different location. As before, Just Cause 4 tries to deliver a somewhat serious story with heavy stakes and betrayal, but due to its bland script, occasionally racist voice acting, and conflicting tone, I wanted to skip every cutscene I could and start looking for new ways to blow stuff up.

That’s the beauty of Just Cause 4: destruction. Sheer, imbecilic destruction. Just Cause 4 is the type of game that lets you attach ten rocket-powered tethers to a huge fuel tank, send it to the skies and ride said tank like a psychopath just for the sake of it. The dumber and more chaotic your actions are, the more points you earn, allowing you to recruit more people to conquer more territory from the Black Hand. You can raise as much hell as you want, and it’s awesome. While weather effects, such as tornadoes and sandstorms, have been mentioned as Just Cause 4‘s main additions, I found them to be underwhelming and have little effect on the game’s experience.

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As The Lonely Island once said, cool guys don’t look at explosions.

I can’t stress enough how fun it is to come up with the loudest ways to complete objectives. Thanks to a combination of great physics, huge arsenal, and the lovely grappling hook and wingsuit combo the possibilities are endless. Unlike Just Cause 3, this game features a wider variety of objectives. Sometimes, you’ll need to hijack computers from inside of a heavily guarded enemy base. Other times, you’ll need to liberate and escort POWs to freedom. Each province features a unique objective, avoids monotony, and it just works.

“It works,” should be written on Just Cause 4‘s cover. Avalanche Studios promised us that Just Cause 4 would be free of performance issues, and it’s true. You need to create an excessive amount of explosions onscreen in order to reduce the framerate at all, but the framerate is locked at 30 frames per second  of the time.

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It can often be a gorgeous game, and an ugly game at the same time.

The developers had to come up with a few ways in order to achieve a desirable performance even on a standard PS4. Due to the focus on a stable framerate at all costs, the visuals have taken a toll. The environments are gorgeous, as the South American setting allows for a wide variety of landscapes; ranging from jungles to snowy mountains. The lighting effects were also decent for the most part. Then come the compromises.

Just Cause 4‘s texture quality is akin to trying to run a modern game on the lowest PC settings possible in order to cope with your 2011 laptop’s hardware. The water looked worse than some Nintendo 64 games. To top things off, the resolution is very low. While the developers claim that Just Cause 4 runs at a dynamic resolution, ranging from 1080p to 720p on a standard PS4, it mainly sticks to 720p, looking like a Switch port of a demanding AAA like Wolfenstein II. But at the end of the day, I didn’t care that much that the game was ugly. I can finally play a Just Cause game on my PS4 at a better framerate than Nintendo 64’s Perfect Dark.

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Look at these sexy textures.

Just Cause 4 doesn’t bring many new additions to the table in terms of gameplay, but it excels at being the functional and entertaining Just Cause experience the third game failed to deliver. The visuals might be ugly, but the gameplay is, for the most part, pretty great. Sadly, the developers took storytelling a bit too seriously without realizing that nobody plays these games for plot. If you ignore the poor story and visuals this game has to offer, you’ll be left with the epitome of dumb fun in modern gaming, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Avalanche delivers a Just Cause game with zero slowdowns and framerate issues, at the cost of ugly character models, poor textures, and reduced resolution.

Gameplay: 7.5

Thanks to a more stable framerate, gameplay is a lot much more fluid the predecessors, but there’s still some response delays whenever there’s a lot for the console to render.

Sound: 7.5

The soundtrack gets the job done and the explosion effects are solid. The voice acting, not so much, and there’s a lot of it.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Just Cause 4 is extremely fun and grants players freedom you’re given to create chaos. Sadly, the game takes itself too seriously.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Just Cause 4 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC.
Reviewed on PS4.

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