Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beaten : Just Cause

Okay, this is my last entry about Just Cause, and XBox 360 game that can be found in the bargain bins of game stores everywhere, got mediocre reviews, and absolutely enthralled me all through its spectacular ending.

Yes, I have beaten Just Cause. Battled my way through dozens of towns, drug cartel mansions, and military bases and liberated them all. Completed the conveniently mapped-out collection quests. Finished all the story missions including the insanely hard ending. I'd like to go into detail about that ending in the next few paragraphs, so SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT read the next few paragraphs if you wish the ending missions to remain a secret.


The ending is a series of three main story missions all strung together. It starts out in the strangest way, with your handlers picking you up in a helicopter and flying you halfway out to the island where the palacial estate of El Presidente is located. You can't take control of the helicopter, nor are you close enough to the island to parachute the rest of the way. All you can do is exit the helicopter and land in the water.

Try to capture a nearby boat and speed to shore with it and you'll be blown away by helicopter gunships. Try to swim the rest of the way and you'll be killed by clusters of explosions that I can only assume are depth charges of some sort. What I ended up doing - and this is madness - was capturing a boat and returning back to the main island shore, calling for an airdrop of my trusty gyrocopter, flying high back out and over the President's island, and free falling into his compound.

The compound is of course protected by multiple tanks, but as I came close to the ground the objective appeared to take out a certain tank. After repeated deaths here I finally got lucky - I think - the time I landed to the side of the palace. I'm not sure if the boss tank took himself out or what, but almost immediately upon landing off to the side of the building, I got a checkpoint and was issued a new objective.

That objective took me deeper into the island, and higher, to another presidential retreat. There are enemy tanks, helicopters, and now jets that buzz by and carpet-bomb your ass back to the checkpoint. I found that staying in the wooded areas on my way up the hill seemed to keep me safer.

Again I got lucky, as I took the long way around the cliff leading up to the retreat and activated the next objective (which has a timer). I was not really near the retreat, but rather running along a steep cliff with part of the building overhanging above me when the new objective appeared. So I might have gotten lucky here, too.

The final objective of part one was to scamper down the cliff to a seaside airstrip, where you finally get a save point, as well as a jet. The jet is used in the second of the three parts of the finale to take down three missiles and then chase down the president's plane and board it. Another save occurs after that.

The third and final part of the story mission involves fighting your way through the elite guards of the president and then facing the man himself. He jumps out of the plane, of course, and the last challenge involves free falling and parachuting to catch up with the deposed tyrant during his own jump, and then attaching an explosive to him. It's a good thing I played around with the parachuting aspect of the game before this mission, or I would have had more trouble with this.

Finishing the game liberates the remaining territory and starts the credits. After the credits, the game world is open and ready for players wishing to finish any side missions or such - I still have about four races I haven't beaten yet, and there are plenty of side missions I could do, should I feel like trying.


What was so great about Just Cause? The massive, lush, tropical game world for starters. I'm sure it dwarfs Liberty City and it's fun to explore. Some players might find the vast, open swaths of jungle lacking in details or points of interest, but I see it as an absolutely necessary part of the package when such a massive world is crafted.

The islands of San Esperito do have details, like winding roads through the mountains, gorgeous beaches, small villages not marked on the map, and so forth. There are offshore oil platforms, big cities with skyscrapers, stunt tracks, and many other details to be uncovered for gamers who can appreciate the depth of design offered here.

The vehicles are also very fun, diverse, and easy to control. From tanks to jet skis, from monster trucks to that awesome gyrocopter, players will find that getting around the vast island chain can be as fun as the missions themselves. The weapons are good, too, but not all that crazy.

Just Cause is another great sandbox game that offers tons of content and an unprecedented virtual world whose size and scope boggles the mind through the end. The good news is that a sequel is slated for later this year. I can't wait to see what the designers of this game pull off this time.

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