Just Cause's hero, Rico Rodriguez, is a walking '1,000 things to do before you die' list. In the last game he could dangle from aeroplane wings, parachute through lightning storms and parasail from cars. Admittedly, a lot of the things he does would probably kill you, but it'd be a great obituary.
So when we heard about Just Cause 2, we were compelled to ask developers Avalanche whether his deranged skillset would remain intact. They assured us that we'll still be dropping through the clouds, seeing the wind whipping Rico's clothes as his abandoned plane crashes into a lake.
The extreme GTA-ish sandbox is still with us, and cars, boats, planes and choppers are there to abuse, with a ridiculous number of ways to approach missions.
But we won't be in the same place. Rico's hunting his CO from the last game, Tom Sheldon, who appears to have fled with two mill of his agency's cash and ended up in the Malay Archipelago.
Rumour has it he's working for three local gangs: the Roaches, the Reapers and the Ular Boys. The shift means that while there's still a tropical paradise to despoil with burnt-out cars, the topology is more varied: snow-capped mountains and denser jungles. This playfield resembles New Zealand and Hawaii, but with an Asian influence.
A typical Just Cause 2 mission will be an exercise in excess. Cars readily explode, Rico can surf on top of traffic and grab onto helicopters using his wrist-mounted grappling hook (which is getting some upgrades that Eidos are keeping quiet about). The helicopters can be taken over mid-air and turned against the aggressors, before Rico drops to the cars again and takes out the drivers.
But while the style of the original was fun, Just Cause didn't capture the public's imagination as much as ours. Mostly because the sandbox world made for a slight main story, with procedurally generated extra missions making up the bulk of the game.
Those are gone: the devs now promise that every mission will lead you to the ultimate goal. It's still open, and still about picking a direction and heading off to see what you find, it's just that when you do finish a mission you'll have a clearer view of the goal.
It's not all crowd-pleasing additions, though - there's still no multiplayer or co-op. According to Avalanche: "Rico Rodriguez isn't a team player. Even though the world of Panau is 32km square, it's not big enough to hold two Ricos." That's a good enough excuse. We'll let them off for now.