Review:Just Cause 4Time: Feb. 13, 2020
As far as over-the-top action spectacles go, Just Cause 4 is a lot smarter than it probably needs to be.
Like all of its predecessors in this semi-sandbox series, the game sees protagonist Rico Rodriguez dropping
into a fictional country in the middle of a revolution, which he must liberate by causing chaos—or, rather,
“creative destruction.” This time around, however, there’s a much stronger narrative purpose to each mission.
You’re still given freedom to tackle them with a wide range of weapons, vehicles, and objects that you can
airdrop at will into combat scenarios, but there’s a bit more nuance to the game than simply finding ways to
blow things up.
Just Cause 4 doesn’t stint on any of its other content. For one, there are tons of aerial and speedy stunts to
perform across the South American island nation of Solis. But in the end, the game is better at focusing players,
as the objective-driven Region Strikes help to mask the more repetitious activities, just as three overarching,
nonlinear extreme weather-themed main missions motivate you to slog through the Strikes, once those, too,
If Just Cause 4 is good, it’s only in comparison to previous entries, and if it’s occasionally better than similar open-world
liberation games like Ghost Recon: Wildlands or Far Cry 5, it’s only because it jettisons realism in the same way that
Saints Row 4 did in an effort to appeal to those who find the Grand Theft Auto games to be too true to life. Just Cause 4
has a plot, just like its precursors, but in the end, it’s less about that and more about the many ways in which Rico can shift
between using a parachute and wingsuit to dive into the heart of enemy bases, and how he can use a grappling gun to either
fling himself toward foes or, more entertainingly, use a variety of turbo-charged or Fulton-esque balloon tethers to make other
objects crash into enemies.
Sadly, the game’s physics rarely hold up to serious scrutiny. In theory, it’d be cool to jump your motorboat into an
enemy’s base and then parachute out, grappling to a nearby sniper tower for cover. But even assuming you can
drive that oversensitive vehicle without getting stuck on debris, the boat might randomly detonate mid-air thanks
to some mysterious collision detection. Should you manage to zip away, chances are you’ll end up stuck on the
railing beneath the tower instead of safely tucked away within it, and as you attempt to disengage, you’ll probably
be blown apart by at least three different grenade-launching foes that weren’t there a second ago.
Just Cause 4’s scripted moments tend to hold up just fine, as when Rico uses a raised missile silo as a ramp with
which to launch his vehicle over a ravine. But the random events surrounding said moments get unintentionally silly,
like when Rico’s vehicle lands on its front bumper and starts spinning, fixed in place, as if performing some sort of
The prospect of getting to the bigger, badder missions with the cooler names—Operations Thunderbarge, Windwalker,
and Sandslinger—shouldn’t be what inspires you to press on. And yet, those operations are to some degree worth the
price of admission, as the extreme weather conditions you’ll encounter within them are not only an admittedly spectacular
sight but a literal game-changer. The enemy AI is so lackluster that killing enemies, even with far-out weapons like lightning guns,
often feels like gunning down ducks in a shooting gallery, but the extra complication of having to quickly grapple between targets
so as to dodge lightning bolts in the middle of a camera-obscuring tropical storm livens things up. Gliding high above Solis in your
wingsuit, as individual cities and villages and biomes blur together in the background, becomes a whole lot more exciting when a
massive tornado is heading your way, forcing you to hustle. These epic flourishes, which can eventually be controlled by players,
are a novel way to keep things interesting.