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Just Cause

Its the game thats great from afar, but far from great.

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This is all a shame, because Just Causecould have been very special. Once you're past the shaky opening, and into the seat of a vehicle, the game starts to come into its own. Rico has a range of transport-specific abilities - pressing r while at the controls of any vehicle activates his 'stunt position,' which sees him kick open the door and steady himself - on the roof of a car, on the wing of a plane - ready for action. From here, he can leap between vehicles with a tap of e, or launch his parachute with q. The parachute is also used in tandem with a grappler gun, which can be fired at any vehicle in range to hitch a ride - cars, choppers or even boats.

While these abilities are hardly realistic, they look and feel very cool. Plus, they also give you massive leeway in ways you can approach any given task. Take an assassination we carried out for the guerrillas on a high-ranking army official, for instance. All the expected options are available - ramming his car off the road and shooting him, say, or using grenades to blow up his ride. But there are other ways - drive alongside the target, kick your car door off its hinges, jump onto the roof, leap into his car, wrestle control of the wheel and speed off the mountain road, before jumping out of the falling death-trap and releasing your parachute, say, or steal a plane from the airport, guide it onto a collision course with your mark's motor, and leap from the plane, grabbing the wing with one hand until a second before impact when you jump to safety.


It's awesome, and, thanks to the range of jeeps, speedboats, choppers and aircraft thrown at you, there's never a shortage of things to try, or blow to bits. Just the opposite, in fact - there's a perverse delight to be had from calling in a vehicle, only to wreck it seconds later and call for another just because you want to, just because you can. See, what really sets Avalanche's title apart from GTA is the ready availability of massive supplies of weapons, vehicles and support from the off. The game revels in playful annihilation and its main aim is to tool you up and set you loose. This is why Just Cause is worth a look, despite its significant problems. Yes, it's totally wrapped up in the larger picture, and this damages the game - but, when you stand back and take a look, what a beautiful picture it is.

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The verdict

Should have been a masterpiece. Instead its a frustrating mix of the brilliant and the deeply average.

  • A unique level of gameplay freedom
  • Biggest map on PS2
  • Dodgy on-foot combat
PlayStation 2
Avalanche Studios
Eidos Interactive