Just Cause 4 has glided onto our consoles recently, bringing with it revitalised explosions and exploration. Following on with the long-lived series that started all the way back in 2006, seeing several design changes in both the gameplay as well as that of Rico himself. With 3 years separating JC3 and JC4, fans have hoped that the game would get better and better, with hardware improvements and more time being spent with the destructive protagonist. Even if those hopes are not fulfilled, at least we got new weather systems and tornadoes.
JC4 follows on from the previous game, with Rico finding evidence about his father working with The Black Hand, with the tutorial mission putting us straight into the action against the leader’s base. Sadly, our parachute and wing-suit combo aren’t best suited to tornadoes as the evil organisations HQ is surrounded in weather tech that stops any approach. Breaking our gear and sending us plummeting to the ground, Rico must work his way up to full-gear once again, which takes a matter of minutes. If only screwdrivers worked like that in real life.
Instead of taking on the Black Hand as 1 guy, Rico has his hand forced into starting a revolution within the new county of Solis. To do this his must create chaos, who woulda guessed, within the county by exploding any property he can find or by taking on missions to sabotage the Black Hand. Along the way, we will see returning characters, new faces and new technology to help us in this mission against the organisation that holds the power of storms in their clutches.
Sitting at around 20 or so hours long, the main story will have us undertake a majority of the missions that are available to Rico. After the story, you’ll have between 5-10 hours of extra missions and hidden areas to find, especially if you’re Easter egg hunting. While the game may feel huge, due to the large map or amount of quests, you are forced to explore most of it for the story missions as they are locked behind regions that you need to overthrow, leaving little for completionists to search for.
If you have played the previous game, JC4 will feel all too familiar to you. It plays like your average 3rd person shooter, with some added skills and gadgets. You can carry 2 guns around at once, from small shotguns to rocket launchers, each having their own secondary fire from grenades to placement shields. You’ll also have your grappling hook to zoom in on enemies or whip them with.
Aside from gunplay, you will also be able to use the multitude of tech attached to your hook. You can attach balloons to units, to send them off into the sky, boosters to shoot them away and winches to pull them into one another or to send explosive objects at their faces. There is plenty of variety for killing your enemies, the most fun being winching helicopters to the floor or ballooning away tanks.
As you complete specific missions for the different characters you will unlock new mods for your hook, along with upgrades to said mods. These become your main way for experimentation within JC4, be it crafting a rocket-propelled balloon car or a flying corpse kite that follows you around. Going all in on the creativity side of gameplay, JC4 really encourages experimentation with all the new features that have been added, along with challenges for the new mods and traversal.
The soundtrack in JC4 is mostly kept to the radios of cars, cutscenes and battle encounters. You’ll have some quiet awe-inspiring tracks as you wing-suit around the world, action-packed tunes for taking on tornadoes and event-relevant music for cutscenes. The OST isn’t really a big standout for me, instead just filling the silence while other things are going on, if you turn off car radios you will mostly be listening to explosions and gunfire as you make your way to missions.
As pointed out by several people, JC4 has taken a hit graphically in plenty of places, with washed out water textures, lack of stomped flora, blur or bloomed explosions and slow texture load in times. It will be hit and miss for fans of the series if they prefer this entry over JC3 as that game had prominent areas of higher quality, while JC4 instead adds in more variety of actions on a much larger scale. Grandiose detail rather than minute detail is the war waged in this release.
Just Cause 4, like the other games in the series, focuses more on the physicality of its gameplay as well as the fun aspect rather than a well-thought-out story or engaging world. Probably the most focused, JC4 really goes all in on experimentation and testing out theories with the new tools it gives to you, along with more and more destructible objects or explosive containers. It can become a bit grating at times where it overuses some mechanics, for example having to winch open doors or tear open generators several times, or endlessly spawning helicopters during escapes, although some people may find entertainment in those aspects.
Through my game time, I didn’t really encounter many bugs or glitches, there was 1 point where I fell through the world, with the majority of errors being the slow load–in times for textures. I did find some pathing issues with the enemies, alongside my followers getting stuck on terrain, but with the hook, I could easily fling them into the correct direction. The PS4 version definitely looks terrible in some parts, especially with bloom and Rico’s model, including other models as their hair looks like sand as well as reflecting light too harshly.
Overall, Just Cause 4 gets an 8/10, the major focus on fun, game-toys and experimentation open up so many possibilities in gameplay that any player could utilize. While the story is bland, with plenty of anti-climactic endings to some missions with too many just being a talking cutscene with an NPC, it does throw in some epic objectives like controlling a tornado. The graphics have arguably taken a huge hit from the previous release, though the addition of new mechanics, as well as the new weather systems, could make up for that. If you have enjoyed the series than JC4 will turn out to be enjoyable for you, but if you’re a stickler for graphics you may want to stay with JC3.