It took me a while to understand what the real deal was. I was happily playing Just Cause 2. Nothing really special here. Far from being as good as GTA IV (you’d expect a link here, really?), it surely compares more easily to Sleeping Dogs (described on this blog last september). As in Sleeping Dogs, you can steal an armored car and go around gunning everybody, razing villages and industries, at some point they’ll just send you a single helicopter to deal with you. Really, if you reach that point, it means you probably destroyed half a military camp so it probably won’t cause you much trouble. Sleeping Dogs storyline was not overly original, I’ll only say Just Cause 2 is worse. You can easily mess up the scripted environment. Plus the cinematics are out-of-sync, frankly I skipped them all. Nonetheless, that’s a nice game.
Yeah, you heard me right, a nice game I said (yeah, people should pay me, I’m too easy-going to be honest, truly. If you want, I can provide you with my paypal account. No, really, I’m not joking here, I’m out of beer right now).
So how come? First, while it’s less immersive than both GTA IV and Sleeping Dogs (as said before, thanks to cheezy cinematics, obviously; but cars engine sounds, cars physics/behavior, etc, could be improved too), the gameplay is overly fun. Do you remember playing Need For Speed 2 on a single 13″ splitted-screen? You don’t? I do, and I’m afraid it does not put me under a bright light. Whatever. Well, I’ll just say in this game it was easy, while driving a sportscar around 120 mph to get instantly blocked by a frackin tree. And then you spent 4 secs to go backward to avoid the obstacle. Pain in the ass, you were so defeated, unless the other player made the same before reaching the finish line. In so many games since then, while driving cars arcade-style (not talking about flight simulator and alikes), you still get blocked by fracking trees, like it’s not a bug but a feature, while it’s still okay to go offroad, hit walls and whatever. Either game designers haven’t drove any car, especially not rally-style going wild, or they just have some weird greenpeace notion that hurting trees is not okay but everything else is. But not in Just Cause 2. In Just Cause 2, depending on the weight/size of you vehicule though, you can easily go through the jungle. You’ll destroy any obstacles, including trees. Including big trees if you’re, for instance, driving an armored car. Ahh. At last!
But it’s still not it. Even if the story, the missions objectives, are more or less always the same (utterly destroy a given part of the country), I’m not fed up yet (makes you wonder…). That’s good I guess. But at some point I realized Rico Rodriguez from the CIA/Just Cause 2 was Michael Westen from the CIA/Burn Notice. Yeah, Burn Notice. That’s a wonderful TV series that is Just Cause 2 all over again: this Michael Westen always, at some point, make everything explode for the sake of the CIA. The TV series started in 2007 but the first Just Cause was released during 2006 so I guess the videogame have the precedence. Anyway, while not being overly original, not really HBO-style, Burn Notice is fun and clever. Each episode contains lots of life lessons/Chuck Norris Facts/Harvey Krumpetski Fakts. I’m kidding. But there are plenty of nice little day-to-day spying advices.
And why did I realize that? It’s Tom Sheldon that highlighted it for me. This CIA friend of Rico is obviously Sam Axe good friend of Westen. They both drink marguaritas and wear shirts with flowers. It cannot be a coincidence. I rated something like 80/90% good to Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, the movie prequel based on Burn Notice. I admit I was probably just a bit drunk when I rated it, but still, I had a good time watching that movie. Yeah, I do like Michael Westen and Sam Axe. So how could I not like Rico Rodriguez?