Just Cause 2 is where all productivity goes to die.
Really, the moment I bought the game, my productivity goes to hell. I can’t even be productive enough to complete in-game missions since I’m either doing the sidequests, hunting for collectibles, or simply just flying around the land. And I swear my body’s half as productive too. My eyes barely blink and I stop feeling hungry, so whenever I stopped playing after a long session I turned into a weeping, starving mess.
This game is really, really pretty. The environment is gorgeous, rich, varied and filled with detail. You have snowy landscapes, deserts, jungles, beaches, cities and small villages. The weather effects and water looks stunning as well. Not to mention, looking at the sun rise is always a good way to start the game. Or take a 5-second break from what you’re doing at about every 20 minutes. The extremely large and detailed map is one of Just Cause 2’s greatest strengths.
The game is also very well optimized. My old laptop used to run Prototype 2 at 640 by 480 with the lowest settings at >1 FPS. I doubt it’s Prototype 2’s fault, because that laptop was horrendous. But that same laptop runs Just Cause 2 at 1280 by 768 at a stable 30 FPS with the lowest settings, only dipping slightly when there’s a lot of stuff on the screen. Sure, that’s far from impressive, but the game still looks decent and plays OK. And on my current laptop it runs a lot better, allowing me to turn up some settings to better appreciate the game’s graphics.
However, I do notice some rather bad texture pop-in which I’m not entirely sure how to fix, and I try to not go for the “build a decent PC” option due to a lack of cash. The issue becomes even more noticeable when I’m driving a vehicle at extremely high speeds.
And speaking of high speeds, we have to talk about the grappling hook. This in combination with the infinite parachutes gives birth to to the slingshot travelling technique, which with practice is the fastest method of travel in the game, barring extractions:
Pardon the horrendous framerate, still tweaking around.
How this works is as follows: When you’re moving at a high enough speed, pressing spacebar will deploy your parachute, no matter how you reach that speed. Driving recklessly, jumping out of a plane, grapple hook yourself across the road, as long as you’re fast enough it’ll work. When you have the parachute active, using the grappling hook on any surface will drag you towards the point and giving you a lot of horizontal momentum, and just enough lift to keep you in the air. With enough practice, this will allow you to dash past sports cars with ease. I have yet to race against a jet with this method, though.
Aside from that, it gives you great maneuverability in urban environments, allowing you to flit among buildings like a sparrow overdosing on Red Bull. Scaling heights, hijacking vehicles, dragging snipers down from their perches to fall to their doom, this thing does it all. It can even break your fall by dragging you towards the ground at a much higher speed. Somehow.
Combat in this game is pretty much like any standard third-person shooter, although the grappling hook does give you more options. It allows you the dash between covers, grapple people onto nearby vehicles to be dragged away, or grapple two people together so that they’ll knock themselves out. If you are especially cruel, grapple a person to an explosive cylinder, and while the person is scrambling to detach himself while babbling in fear, shoot the cylinder so that it ruptures and turns into a makeshift rocket thruster, dragging the screaming victim along with it to the heavens before it explodes. Aside from that, you have two weapons (pistols, SMGs, etc.), one heavy weapon (sniper rifle, auto shotgun, LMG, rocket launcher, grenade launcher), explosives and a melee attack. Standard stuff.
Another thing I like to talk about is Panau, the location where Just Cause 2 takes place. According to the wiki, it was implied to be at the Malay Peninsula, which certainly shows.
The writings around Panau looks quite similar to Thai texts, but the location names are definitely in either Malay (Bahasa Melayu) or Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia). In formal usage, which will be the case for location names, both languages are almost identical, barring some minor differences in grammar, pronunciation and spelling. I had a chuckle when I went on one of my first faction missions, where I was instructed to take over a nuclear power plant called Awan Cendawan (Mushroom Cloud) Power Plant. The colonels, the largest group of named Panauans in the game, has names that reflected the major races of people living in Malaysia and Singapore (Malay, Chinese, Indian), as well as some Indonesian and Western names. As a Malaysian living in Singapore, these details stand out, mostly because I really don’t expect something this close to home in a game.
And then there’s this lady:
Bolo Santosi caused a bit of a stir when people hear her speak for the first time. It sounds like an exaggerated Malaysian/Singaporean accent. I don’t know about others, but it really made me chuckle when I first heard it. In fact, the voice actress was actually interviewed by The Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, on her role. The VA is Liz Suntherland, a Singapore-born Eurasian lady. Honestly, the only issue I have with the whole thing is that the article calls her a heroine. She was an extremely greedy lady leading a Communist revolution, and is an amoral seductress wanting to rule Panau for its oil reserves. I’m not even entirely sure if she qualifies as an antiheroine. If you listen to the random NPCs in the game talk, they actually have a similar accent, albeit more toned down.
But yes, overall Just Cause 2 portrays a country in the Malay Peninsula rather well. The accents, locale names, population and such are done rather well beneath the campy B-movie vibe the game has. If I had to pick a bone with the game about its depiction of a country in the Malay Peninsula, it has to be the deserts. The snowy lands are at the mountains, and while it is stretching the suspension of disbelief, it is still plausible. The desert climate though, that pretty much is just tearing reality apart. But then I remember this game has a grappling hook that softens your landing from tremendous heights by yanking you into the ground faster, so…
Speaking of B-movie vibes, this game oozes cheesiness like no other. It’s something to be enjoyed, much like a double-stuffed crust pizza. In one instance, you are fighting a Russian trying to extend Russia’s influence in Panau, who fought you in a tank. That in itself is quite something, but he’s fighting you on top of a tower more than 300 meters above ground. And he surrounded his tanks with triggered explosives. And if you think that’s ludicrous, the next guy fights you with laser-guided missile fired from a satellite.
I love this game.
Overall, Just Cause 2 is a beautiful game that’s a lot of fun, and it has a storyline that is so hilariously nonsensical it must be seen to be believed. Even after seven years and the release of its sequel it is still a really solid game, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you haven’t played it before, do give it a shot, especially during the sales.