I will begin this review by saying, my time before Just Cause 4 was blissful. Just Cause was an unpolished mess looking back on it today, but at the time, it did so much right.
Just Cause 2 improved on the original and introduced mechanics that are still seen in the series today. The only real fault I had with Just Cause 2 was the voice acting. Aside from that, the world was vibrant and alive. It felt like you were making a difference and fighting to uncover a deep conspiracy. Just Cause 3 did a lot right. From explosive flying cows to riding a missile. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Just Cause 3 and still play it today. Your role as Medici’s savior was captivating and made you feel like you were fighting for the greater good. In my mind, Just Cause 3 was a slight backslide for the series compared to 2. However, it also did a lot right and was by no means a bad game.
Just Cause 4, on the other hand, is a real let down. A lot of the elements from previous games are missing here and the world feels bland and empty. But, let’s not waffle on too much. Let’s jump in and look at just what Just Cause 4 did wrong
Graphical Power (Or Lack Thereof)
During my playthrough of Just Cause 4, one of the biggest issues that I had with the game was the graphics. Yes, I know, graphics do not make a game. But in this case, it’s hard to avoid. There were so many issues graphically that it’s hard to keep track of. The whole shadow mechanic of JC4 is broken and in this case, is worse than a PS2 game. Shadows dance from left to right in an overly jittery way and when looking through trees, it’s enough to make you feel motion sick.
Shadows are not the only issue here, for instance, when looking at the guardrails or any object in the game, aliasing is a real problem. Aliasing lines are constantly moving and cause the player to feel a sort of dizziness. Trying to reduce graphical settings or improve them makes no difference. I spent close to two hours playing with the settings and couldn’t improve aliasing or graphics at all.
Hair is also another major issue. The hair just looks like an undetailed blob that’s been placed on in-game characters heads and is by no means pretty. In other cases, hair flops around and looks
Aside from these issues though, Just Cause 4 does have a beautiful tropical world with many regions. However, unfortunately, these graphical issues let the game down.
The graphical issues in Just Cause 4 plague it and in my honest opinion, this game should not have been released in its current state.
AI? PFF, WHAT’S THAT?
AI, when you think about it, isn’t really the focus of many games nowadays. It’s taken for granted that it will work in all games relatively seamlessly. Well, Just Cause 4 seems to have issues with this. AI in this game is so dumb, it can’t even drive in a straight line. Like with most open world video games nowadays, there is always one or two escort missions in
Rather than going around obstacles while driving like any normal AI would, in Just Cause 4 they stop and proceed to get stuck. The vehicle proceeds to reverse and go forward in an endless cycle. They can’t advance until you clear the item that is blocking the road, grapple the vehicle and tow it out of the area, or kill all the enemies.
This mechanic is so frustrating, I died multiple times due to useless AI direction. This can also be observed just by standing on a mountain or in a town/city for long enough. A
Sure, Just Cause as a series has always had lackluster AI. For example, in Just Cause 3, if you stood long enough in a recaptured town, the townspeople would panic and start killing each other off. But I have never seen AI incompetence to this level.
Just Cause 4 introduces a couple of new elements when it comes to story and general activities that you must partake in now. Gone are the days where chaos is the main element to take over bases. Now, if you want to completely capture a base, the player needs to partake in assorted activities (wingsuit tests, driving challenges, etc.). The events that used to give you suit and vehicle upgrades are now centralized around base capturing. Chaos has taken a back seat here and as far as I can tell, only allows you to unlock troops to take over the island.
These completed activities seem to give you experience points that don’t appear to do anything to improve your skills as Rico or for anything else for that matter. I found the upgrading, leveling up and grapple menus confusing to use and poorly put together. Much like the options menu, not much here seems to take effect and I was unable to trial or even test out any of the new abilities I supposedly gained, mainly due to not knowing how to use them or even being shown what they did.
The Daily Grind
Avalanche has also introduced a new troop movement mechanic that allows you to take over the entire island. I also have issues with this mechanic. This new troop movement mechanic is an unneeded element that takes away from both story and gameplay. I found myself grinding to destroy enough military property in order to increase troop movement. This take over was an essential section of the map to move on with the story. I would have much preferred to see the old chaos system back here instead of requiring grinding.
As far as the troop movement mechanic impacting on the story? Well, the story is essentially nonexistent. Just Cause 4 does a very poor job of introducing characters. Heck, they don’t even say why you need to complete a handful of random missions. Half the time during my playthrough, I had no idea what I was doing, who I was doing it for or even why I needed to do it (It being random missions that
I hope Avalanche improves this over time and releases a couple of updates allowing for a more refined Just Cause 4 experience. Right now, it just feels sloppy.
A Storied Past Comes Back to Haunt You
The general quest is lackluster at best. You play as Rico Rodriguez who has just shown up on an island in South America somewhere. This island is controlled by the Black Hand who has recruited your father to develop weather controlling stations.
When you’re first put into the game, you are tasked with taking over the main base of operations. You fail to do so and are thrown clear of the base in an explosion and wake up somewhere unknown. As I said earlier, there is no real introduction to the characters, who they are or what relationship they have to one another.
There is no real story so to speak apart from overthrow the bases that your father has built. This seems to be a recurring theme in all Just Cause (Destroy this dictator’s buildings etc.) games but in this one there is a surprising lack of direction as to what you have to do or how you get there.
All tasks in
What’s the Forecast for Tomorrow?
Now, you’re all probably wondering, “What’s the go with the Weather?” Well, I am happy to say, the weather is amazing! This is one aspect of the game that I think Avalanche nailed. There are sandstorms, lightning storms and, of course, tornadoes.
The tornadoes are the most fun as they suck everything close by into them. From cars to planes, everything remotely close by is a goner. I loved the fact you could get into a car and get flung hundreds of feet into the air then land again and do it all over.
Sandstorms are also brutal and cause you to be flung any which way and to completely lose any and all sense of direction. I flew multiple planes through sandstorms and crashed multiple times due to high winds and directionless travel. Lightning, on the other hand, is an instakill feature. If you get trapped in a lightning storm, take cover as soon as you can.
I personally had heaps of fun with the weather mechanic and it’s a great feature that almost redeems Just Cause 4.
Overall, Just Cause 4 is a mess. I found myself wanting more explosive action and a more detailed & fine-tuned story. Just Cause 4 suffers from some of the worst graphical issues I’ve seen in a game in close to seven years. But, if you look past the poorly constructed tutorials, menus, and story, the world is a beautiful one with dynamic weather and many different regions.
With some fine tuning, Avalanche could have made something great out of Just Cause 4 as there is a TON of potential. But, unfortunately, it does fall short in more ways than one.
Steer clear of this one unless it’s on sale or they update the game’s story and mechanics.
Let us know what you think about Just Cause 4 in the comments below and on social media.
- THE GOOD
- Awesome Weather
- Beautiful World
- Same Old Explosions
- THE BAD
- Poor Graphics
- Lacklustre Story
- Confusing Menus & Upgrade System
- Options? What Options?
- Crashes Often
- Aliasing issues across the board
Unfortunately, Just Cause 4 is a real let down. From a poorly constructed world to a confusing & basic story. There is nothing new here. Steer clear of this one unless its on sale or gets many updates. DO NOT PLAY ON PC!
Anthony is the Owner and Editor in Chief for Culture of Gaming and he spends his days studying, gaming and working on the site.
Anthony has worked for the past 7 years in the Video Game journalism industry and has worked for over 30 different sites in that time.