Just Cause 2 is a sandbox game, actually I don’t think sandbox accurately describes this game. Just Cause 2 is a Sahara Desert Game! Ah, that sounds better. Once again you take the reins of Rico Rodriguez on another cliché story based explosion extravaganza.

Just Cause the original had a playable game field of 1,012km² with 21 missions and hundreds of side missions (Even though they were cookie cut from each other). The main gripe everyone had with Just Cause was how repetitive the game play was, and how it got boring and stale quite quickly. Just Cause 2 has improved on that in numerous ways and Avalanche and Eidos have done a good job to make Just Cause 2 more enjoyable for all.

Set on the other of the world to the original title Rico is on a fictional island called “Panau” in Southeast Asia. Your mission is to overthrow Pandak “Baby” Panay who of course is the evil dictator and puppet to your former boss, Tom Sheldon. Game play is pretty standard. Complete missions to get Intel on the location of Tom Sheldon so you can kill him, ultimately fulfilling your own personal mission whilst being the puppet of various “tribes” located around Panau who all have their own hidden agendas.

This is done by making your way to waypoint of sorts on the map where a brief cut scene will inform you of your objective. Carry it out, mission accomplished. Most of them revolve around going to a Panau landmark, destroying a heap of equipment and essentially taking the base for yourself. One of them sees you flying to an enemy Missile launch facility and destroying satellites before they’re launched into orbit. It makes for fun game play and the explosions are nice however it gets very old, very quickly.

To unlock more missions, you have to blow more stuff around Panau up. This is a problem in itself as to blow stuff up you either need explosives or weapons. To get them you either need to kill armed soldiers placed all over the island of Panau or buy them from the black market which you unlock about an hour into the game. You activate a beacon and a helicopter flies over top of you and drops off whatever you buy but make sure you have money, and lots of it. An Assault Rifle costs around $40,000 which is $10,000 more than a Jet Plane. Who in the design department did the equations here? A rifle should cost at most ten thousand dollars. When your tools of destruction cost more than the tools to get around the island, you start to think if it’s worth paying for either but then you’re forced to use the incredibly slow vehicles everywhere else.

But then that problem is pretty much overweighed by the fact you can use the new grapple hook feature. By hitting the “F” key on PC and pointing at an area within about 50 meters of you, a cable will extend and pull you to where you shot it. Then by hitting space bar you open your parachute and glide for ages. Repeat this and you have effective free travel. The parachute comes back no matter how many times you’ve opened it, and regardless of the fact you opened it two seconds ago.

The grappling hook can also be tethered to two objects at once. So you can hook it to a car, then a plane, then take off with a car below you and use it as a literal wrecking ball before it explodes into a ball of fire. It’s fun driving near people and tethering their car to the ground so when they drive off their car just disintegrates. You can also grapple enemies, buildings and pretty much anything you see.

The graphical presentation of Just Cause 2 is met by nothing I have ever seen before. This game features possibly the most beautiful island ever created. It’s essentially separated into 3 parts; Tropical, Desert and Snow. The tropical area being my favourite. Featuring lush forests, beautiful shore lines and gorgeous water visuals it really does look like a work of art. The water is probably some of the best I have ever seen. It’s filled with vibrant colourful coral and underwater life.

The draw distance of the game is pretty insane. By getting onto the tallest point of the game and looking around you can see the whole island. The same goes for flying straight up in one of the many planes or helicopters and hitting the Left Alt key to hang below the aircraft. It really is something I recommend everyone to see as it’s not done very often and pulled off this well.

Character models look nice however sometimes they look a bit dull. This could be due to a blurring effect that affects pretty much everything that moves. Explosions are where this game strives in leaps and bounds. Nothing is more appealing to the eye then detaching a Minigun from a stationary position and just blowing up heaps of fuel tanks and vehicles and watching them all explode. Just Cause 2 probably has some of the best explosions you will see in games for the next year or two. There will be video footage all over YouTube so make sure to search it up.

The soundtrack within Just Cause 2 is pretty bland. The same sound bite is played time and time again whenever you enter into danger or evade it. The guns all sound pretty realistic and have a sense of individuality which is good in Just Cause 2 as everything basically blurs into everything else. One gripe I had though, was the explosion sounds. They sound occurs, then pretty much disappears a few seconds later, no echo or residual sound left over. Which doesn’t make sense if the explosion occurs in a valley or inside.

The cars too leave a lot to be desired because the sound they make at top speed isn’t really representative of the onscreen speed look. They seem to be going slow in comparison to their engines revving out.

Some of the voice acting within Just Cause 2 is pathetic. It literally sounds like some High School graduates reading page scripts and that’s it. With voice acting in Splinter Cell: Conviction and Alan Wake, this leaves a lot to be desired.

This game features a great deal of extra things to do. There’s numerous military bases to fly around find, then destroy as well as something like 2,000 upgrade parts for cars, weapons and equipment. This game could easily see you playing for 90-100 hours and still be enjoying it and finding new fun things to do. If you’re looking for a game with a lot of fuel in the tank, this really is for you!

Both Steam and Xbox 360 Achievements in Just Cause 2 are pretty well balanced. They aren’t extremely hard to get, but you do have to work for them which really does give you a good sense of accomplishment when you unlock one and even more so if you could get them all. Some of them are pretty fun too. My favorite being where you have to base jump for around 1000 meters (Hint: Giant nightclub in the sky!). Some of them are a bit ridiculous, such as one for driving all 109 vehicles on the island, considering some are extremely rare to find.

Just Cause 2 is good, not perfect but good. They nearly hit the nail on the head but a few things like cost of weapons, repetitiveness of missions (Base Takeovers / Destroy X) and a lot of filler on the island leaves a bit to be desired. Hopefully they get it right in the inevitable sequel.

The Rundown:

+ Great open ended do whatever you want gameplay
+ Never run out of things to do
– Repetitive missions and tasks
– Over price and underthought equipment

Alien Breed: Impact was developed by Avalanche Studios/Edios Interactive and published by Square Enix for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The game released in the United States on March 23rd 2010 with a retail price of $49.99 USD. The copy used in this review was for the PC and purchased by the reviewer. The game was played to completion for the purpose of this review. Specs of the PC used are as follows: Asus M2A74-AM-SE Motherboard, AMD Quad Core 630 @ 2.81ghz, HIS 5750 1GB DDR5, 4GB RAM, Tritton AX720 Dolby Digital 5.1 Headset, Windows 7 (64 Bit).