Friday, April 16, 2010

Just Cause 2: Review


JUST CAUSE 2 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC; M for Mature; $50-$60) is a third person shooter/sandbox game. You play Rico Rodriguez, a agent who has been contracted to kill an American agent named Tom Sheldon who stole top secret information and millions of dollars. He went dark while operating in Panau, a corrupt nation off the coast of Africa. To get the information you need about Sheldon , you go to work for 3 different gangs who are fighting against the oppressing government. In return they agree to keep you in the loop.

The game starts out with a series of 3 missions that set up the story line. After that, you are launched into free-play mode where your only goal is to cause chaos by destroying government property. Based on the chaos points you have earned, you unlock new missions. Missions include Stronghold Takeovers (where you claim new property from the government) Agency Missions (where you learn more about the man you are hunting) and Faction Missions (where you help the gangs revolt against the government).

The first thing I want to talk about is the map. The developers claim that it is over 400 sq. miles! You can find busy cities, green jungles, wide-open deserts, and snow-capped peaks. In total there are 386 locations, including military bases, small villages, and everything in between. At every location, there is government property to destroy, as well as items that you can pick up to unlock new items in the black market. Here is a video I shot giving a quick tour of the country:

With so much to explore, you are in need of transportation. But where ever you are, there is always a road nearby where you can hijack a car, truck or motorcycle. You could also grab a plane from a military airstrip or the Panau International Airport. But Just Cause 2 brings a new style to getting around. Rico always carries around a reloadable grappling hook and parachute. This allows you to perform a number of maneuvers. After jumping from a high surface, your character begins to "skydive". You can then open the parachute and coast safely to the ground. To reach something around you, just point and shoot the grappling hook. After it attaches, you are automatically drawn in. To get airborne, just open the parachute while being towed by the grappling hook. It also features the "duel hook" that allows you to attach to object together. Attach an enemy to a truck. Swing a car from a helicopter. Bolt a tank to the ground.

The controls are fairly good. Not the best I've ever seen, but far from the worst. It takes a while to get them down (and get a feel for the grappling hook). When I first started playing, I found switching weapons was a little difficult, but after a few hours it started to make sense.

The one thing I was disappointed in was the driving simulation. The cars seem very loose and will spin out at just a tap of the analog stick. It makes driving on a twisty road or running at high speeds from the cops fairly difficult.

Graphics are pretty good and operate in 720p. And while it's no Uncharted 2, it's enough to be able to enjoy, but not so much where it takes forever to load. There is not much image tearing, and the shadowing is accurate and precise. After looking at screenshots from both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, I have to say they looked almost identical. VideoGameZone did a side-by-side here.

The PlayStation 3 version allows you to record your gameplay and export it to your videos or upload it directly to YouTube from the game in 420p. The problem is you can't set a video description or add tag and it uploads the video as private.

The story line is decent, but I won't ruin it for you ;) . I will say that the voice acting is BAD.

Demos usually don't sell me on games, but I picked up Just Cause 2 after about 3 hours of the demo. It puts you on a 36 sq. mi. plot in the desert as well as a 30 min. time limit. Only the free-play mode is open, and you can drive and explore several military bases and villages.

The biggest problem I have come across is a horrible glitch where all civilians and civilian vehicles disappear. The only way to fix it is to start a new game. It has been reported widespread on both the PlayStation and Xbox (I couldn't find a PC claim, but I'd be willing to bet that this is simply because of the lower population of PC JC2 gamers compared to actual game consoles). When I contacted SQUARE ENIX about the problem they said that they "didn't have a customer service available for Just Cause 2." There is no word on a patch, and even with a patch, you may have to start a new game to be able to see civilians again. I'd also like to point out that I didn't receive an e-mail from them after submitting a ticket (like they promised) and their phone number is not listed on their website or the game case/manual.

Overall, it's a great game and earns an 89/100. I would highly recommend this game.


Friday, April 2, 2010

It Only Does...

Sony has been making a big deal with their "It only does everything campaign". Today I want to examine some of the PS3 won't do. So not only does it not do everything, it does less today than last week, last year, and since launch.
  • PS2 - Nope. First there was full hardware based backwards compatibility. Sony removed that and said, well most games will play using software based backwards compatibility. Then Sony removed that feature. WTF? I mean they have the software, yes they would have to maintain it and fix bugs, but don't they have to do that anyways with the PS1 games they support via PSN?
  • SACD - Think of this as a CD in DVD form to get much higher quality. Adoption is low, so Sony just killed PS3 support for it.
  • Other OS - The most recent change to date.
Here's the thing. With the first change, backwards compatibility, consumers were informed that this feature was not present. In fact, I have a launch 60 GB for this reason. As for the other two, taking away features that a console had, this seems just plain wrong.

Sony sites security concerns. This is using fear, uncertainty and doubt to have consumers just accept the change. It is crap. The console has been hacked. You cannot undo that. It only took over 3 years to do it and hardware modification. I hear people say, well it is about pirated game. Bull.

The BluRay disc it self could be copied, why not disable the BluRay drives? Furthermore, someone could download a hack, so why not pull the web browser as well. Oh and what if someone finds an open port they can exploit, should Sony remove WiFi and Ethernet support?

I'm pissed off. I was hoping this was simply an Aprils Fools joke. Looks like I'm a fool for believing Sony wouldn't renege on their promises. They held out all of 222 days after having a rep say that. Now I know reps can be miss informed, but I would have expected a retraction much earlier.

Telling me, I can either use Other OS or play BluRay but not both is simply not acceptable.

Especially when your tag line is, "It only does everything."
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