Just Cause 3 wishlist

Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 (by Avalanche Studios) is one of the games I’ve gotten the most enjoyment out of in a long time. Enjoyment, both in terms of length (it provides a huge environment full of goals tapping into my near OCD desire for completing games) and quality (creative and often spectacularly random acts of destruction is fun, ‘yo!’). It’s just dripping in explosions, cannon-fodder and vehicular mayhem, all taking place in a wonderfully realised and expansive island setting. I’ve high hopes for a sequel and decided I’d just like to jot down some notes on what I’d consider a few improvements on an already great game. They might be minor, they might be a little specific at times and they might be completely unnecessary in your book but what the hey. It’s a bit of a ramble so I’ve put it after the break. Click through to read the full waffle.

JC2 isn’t perfect, I should add. It’s got some foibles and a few areas where the shine is a little less than dazzling but all in all, it’s a wonderfully solid game that provides hours (and hours and hours and…) of fun that I’d recommend trying to everyone.

Fewer ‘Clown Cars’. I’m not actually talking about vehicles here, but more the sense that while assaulting a base, each of the buildings are packed to the rafters with soldiers, ready to pile out one after the other, much akin to those tiny circus clown cars that spew an endless stream of painted buffoons. I realise that technically, it’s sort-of realistic – these buildings could contain more than the two or three troops it spits out initially (though it does smack of a lousy working environment. “Look, we’ll just see if Frank, Burt and Arthur get gunned down in a hail of bullets, first. No need for everyone to risk their necks, right? Eddie, Vic and Ralph next and if… we’re talking worse case scenario, here… if they get butchered, bloody entrails scattered, baking in the desert sun… then Murray, Sam and me will poke our heads out and see what we can do!“) and it’s a tool for steadily keeping on the pressure but it feels a little cheap to me. Getting attacked from troops surrounding a building you’d just done a ‘sweep’ of harkens back to those lousy corridor FPS titles that used to spawn enemies behind the players because some unimaginative designer thought that would surprise the player and it added difficulty being attacked from a direction they weren’t expecting.

The alternative to clown cars? More troops on the ground? More troops being called in… logically. I have to admit, I tended to dislike the soldiers parachuting in as it’d randomly seed the bases (more getting attacked from places you’d ‘cleared’) and it’s a pain getting pelted from above as they float down but perhaps an another delivery method? An armoured personnel carrier rolling up to the gates might have less of an impact.

Reward Me. If you’re going to ask me to collect 300 items dotted all over the maps, maybe you could reward me for collecting them all? At the very least, acknowledge it.

More Environmental Destruction. Some of the funniest situations in the game usually happened when the physics got involved after a touch of large-scale scenery destruction. Radio towers collapsing on vehicles and guard towers, explosions launching enemies across the sky. Great fun. Want more.

More Appropriate Speech. The comments from enemies and other NPCs certainly add to the atmosphere of the game but there were just a few times when the lines seemed a little out-of-place. Immersion soured slightly with soldiers shouting “He’s trying to hiiiiiiiide!” as I run towards them, peppering them with bullets or Sheldon warning me (for the millionth time) not to break my latest purchase… which just happen to be grenades and breaking them is, well, kinda the point.

Optional Stealth. There’s nothing worse in gaming than forced stealth sections, especially when stealth isn’t really the main focus of the game and so probably hasn’t had the necessary amount of design/polish. However, there were times in the game when I’d really liked to have tried picking off guards one by one, working my way through a base, setting charges, all without the guaranteed alarms being raised. It’s nice to go in guns blazing but a few silenced weapons and less of the psychic-guard-hive-mind would have been a pleasant change of speed from time to time.

Speaking of the psychic-guard-hive-mind, if I set a charge in a base undetected then leg it half-way up a forested mountainside, maybe the helicopter shouldn’t zero-in on me the second I set everything off? I suppose they could have technology that traces transmissions from activated detonators but given this is the mighty armed force who can’t recall, when I pass overhead, whether I’m the same leather-clad, armed-to-the-teeth, grappling parachutist who only five minutes ago decimated half their squad-mates, it seems unlikely they’d be so technologically clued up. Maybe I’d run rings around the troops if they investigated the explosions/disruptions rather than made a direct beeline for my hidden position but it’d be a touch more logical and creating distractions would add another gameplay element.

More Base Designs. Okay, so I admit I probably took advantage of knowing exactly where to find the tank in the snowy mountain bases but even I’d appreciate more varied layouts. I know more resources require more time to generate and these things all add up but given the wonderful sandbox of Just Cause 2 – one that simulated a living, breathing island paradise so well, finding identikit locations somewhat took the shine off of things.

Better Persistence. When things got a little hairy during a skirmish, being able to zipline a tree or structure, launch yourself at it, bring out the chute and float out of harm’s way for a while was a handy tactic. It was somewhat unfortunate that sometimes, the game took that as you vacating the area and a chance to respawn all the troops – meaning when you did 180° for another run, all your hard work had been scrubbed and you were facing tougher odds than you were expecting.

Now I’m not asking for that nearly destroyed vehicle you trashed and dumped at the side of the road during your first mission to still be there, sputtering and smoking by the last mission but surely a middle ground that didn’t break realism with magically teleporting troops would be a good start.

Bigger Impact. Helping out the various factions could do with having more of an effect on the gameworld. Sure, it’s a progression thing. Do so-and-so’s missions and the map opens out but beyond that and the monetary rewards, there was barely any point. The cut-scenes talk-the-talk about trust and power and yet there’s no apparent change to the world from all the help you give them. You liberate a base and they take up residence but that’s it.

Maybe the player could gain access to new vehicles or weapons & ammo based on faction progression, obtained from ‘friendly’ NPCs in liberated villages and towns? Get troop support out in the field? The game could benefit from a sense that the factions appreciate your help and their ascension is making a difference.

More Cities. Swooping around and over the buildings in the city hunting down Generals (and yet another water tower… gas station… propaganda truck… statue) was a welcome change from the miles of jungle, desert and snow you spend most of your time leaving a trail of destruction through so I’d certainly like to see more cities in any sequel. That said, the one in JC2, split as it was into four districts was a little too sprawling though. Basically, I’d like more of them but slightly smaller and dotted around all over the map, rather than all bunched up.

I was kinda sad not to hear any announcements from E3 that there was a new episode in the Just Cause series on the horizon but I’m fairly sure it’s coming. I sure hope so, anyway – we’re talking fingers crossed so tight they’re turning black and dropping off, here.