Just Cause 2 might be the only game I ever recommend ignoring the story of to just play and have fun. The reason the story should be avoided is because it isn’t very good. The writing is bad, the voice-overs are bad, hell even the cut scenes are laughable. Everything that would usually draw you into the world and make you care about the character you’re controlling is either lackluster or non-existent here. But that’s totally acceptable in Just Cause 2 because just playing around and creating chaos is an absolute blast that should (have already been) be experienced by all gamers.
The island of Panau is massive… 400 square miles of massiveness to traverse by land, sea, and air. It doesn’t just look big, it feels big as well. And that’s really one of the problems with doing story missions. It takes too long to get across the huge island just to advance the game’s story. You’re better off enjoying the world you’re in and maybe doing a quick faction mission when you’re around one. The massiveness of the island will also wreak havoc on those of you who are completion; those who need every trophy/achievement and need to reach 100% completion of the game. There’s a TON of stuff to do and collect in this game. I pumped well over 30 hours into the game and only reached 31% completion… and that’s with beating the game and doing a lot of stuff. It’s almost too daunting in a way.
As far as open world games are concerned, this one both excels and disappoints. As big as the world is, and as crowded, it in a way feels lifeless. The villages and towns aren’t much different in that you can’t talk to any characters or enter any of the buildings; you’re just a dude with a grapple hook and some guns ready to blow stuff up and create as much chaos as you possibly can. Given the scope of the world, it is forgivable that the cities really serve no purpose other than changing up the landscape and providing opportunity to cause chaos (unfortunately the buildings themselves aren’t destructible).
Just Cause 2 really excels at being an over-the-top, absolutely absurd action experience that can put to shame any action movie. As Rico Rodriguez you are almost completely indestructible. You can fall and roll down mountain sides all the way to the base and immediately run off with barely a dent in your life bar, drive a car through gas-pumps creating huge explosions, survive insane wrecks and explosions, and even survive jumping out of helicopter and falling 700 meters without opening your parachute… just because you grapple-hooked the ground two seconds before impact. And all of this is really the reason you want to play this game; to do the dumbest stuff you can think of and create as much chaos as you possibly can. That and to see how many creative and violent ways you can think of to kill the Panau military or poor innocent civilians if that’s how you roll.
There’s just something really fun about skydiving in this game as well. I don’t know how much time I spent just flying a helicopter straight up way over the ocean just so I could jump out of it (and do note that it takes a long time to do because you can go insanely high). Driving and wrecking is also a blast, and there is huge amount of vehicles to play around with in this game. Another one of my favorite things to do, and particularly near the beginning of the game’s story where you’re having to protect an informant driving to his home, is stand on top of a vehicle being chased by the military and just tether their jeep to the road using the grapple-hook and just watch them flip.
This game is really as silly as games come, and for that reason it’s a definite must buy. It isn’t the best shooter, doesn’t have a good story, doesn’t have a world to escape into on the level of GTA4 or Red Dead Redemption, or even The Saboteur, but it’s just a really fun time waster when you just want to blow stuff up and drive really fast off a cliff and laugh as you survive and drive off in a totaled card. The amount of over-the-top action goodness, and huge world to play with, really makes this game stand out from other genre games in the sheer fun category. You may not play it more than a couple of months, but you’re definitely going to enjoy every second spent within the world of Panau (save for maybe some story missions).
Just Cause 2 gets a three out of five: GOOD.