Midway through the channel, the water opened up and we were met with a huge secret military airport, complete with Hercules bombers, jet fighters and some seriously pissed-off security. With our speedboat travelling at high speed, we deployed our chute and parasailed off the back, into the air, and then slowly descended onto the airport's runway.
It was thrilling to discover such a place, and yet, on the scale of the map, it's barely half of one per cent of the entire gaming area. And another thing too: if you manage to find yourself a single-prop plane, take a flight over the islands to the extinct volcano - there's a nasty surprise in the crater.
Just Cause's main hook (besides the ENORMOUS SCALE OF EVERYTHING), is the grapple-and-parachute facility. By grappling vehicles, you can paraglide behind them on your chute. By grappling helicopters, you can hijack them from the ground, or launch yourself high into the air to deploy a chute again. Basically, we're looking at a game that doesn't confine you to the usual realms of your typical sandbox title.
You can be up and down like a yo-yo - something that, although possible with previous titles, simply took too long. In Just Cause, it's an accepted part of the proceedings. Leaping off cliffs or flying high on airstreams is not only integral to the game, it's also just another way of quickly getting from A to B (why drive down a cliff path when you can dive off the cliff?). Cliff-leaping isn't for show or speed either; it's vital to staying alive - and we're seeing more and more reason to speed off the edge of a cliff than we ever did before.
The first serious liberation mission we played (there are somewhere in the region of 200 towns, villages and cities waiting to be liberated) saw the government unleash two army helicopters on our ass - something that only a four- or five-star wanted level could produce in GTA. With a quick piece of hijacking, we were bombing it across open country with the bogeys on our tail, before jumping out as the car went over a cliff. Avalanche has even included a natty 'slo-mo' director's angle with the camera to get the best from those aerial nosedives.
Honestly, it's as though in the past two months the team has fuel-injected its debut game, layering it with so much crazy-ass stuff it sort of left us breathless. And all this - all this crazy government brawling, all this exploration, all those hours of wandering about discovering and looting and hijacking - took place in the very top right-hand corner of the map. We've still got at least another 80 per cent of the world to even venture into...