Just Cause 3 released around 3 years ago for the PS4 and Xbox One. While it featured many great new additions like the enhanced grappling hook, wingsuit and a massive open world, it was a complete disaster on the technical level with a terrible performance. The performance of the game so bad that even the enhanced hardware of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X weren’t able to brute force their way through it, just to make it run at a smoother frame rate.
Fast forward to today, and Just Cause 4 is out on the same platforms. It is offering even more crazy destruction, insane physics and a new weather system that lets your grapple and swing your way through a giant Tornado. The potential here was just limitless but considering how disastrous its predecessor was in the performance department, those who wanted to get the game on consoles were cautious, and rightly so.
So now that Just Cause 4 is out, what is the verdict on it so far? I have played through the game on both the regular PS4 and PS4 Pro, and my conclusion is that performance wise, there is a massive improvement. However, not everything seems that great once you dig a little deeper into the game. The improved performance appears to come at the cost of visuals that have taken two steps back now. If I had to describe them in simple words, they are just plain ugly. So the increased performance has the drawback of pared-down visuals, but is it worth it?
Just Cause 4 is a massive open world sandbox game. It gives you every bit of freedom to do all types of crazy stunts with a variety of vehicles and some of the weirdest but awesome sounding weapons that you will see in an open world action game. The game excels at letting you create mayhem creatively, in as many ways as possible, but it fails in another major category: story and character development.
While Just Cause series has never been about its story, I remember that at least the second one had to some extent an enjoyable plot; but since Just Cause 3, the story has proceeded to face a downward trajectory in quality. Just Cause 4 is continuing the trend of the story taking the backseat with a simple plot that deals with creating another new rebellion. The scene this time is the fictional South American nation of Solís. It starts off by doing exactly that, as Rico chains together a series of events leading to the recruiting of a group of rebellions against the government.
While the government is a key player in the story, the main focus for the plot is Gabriela Morales, who is the leader of the Black Hand. It is one of the most powerful private armies in the world. They control a large part of Solís, which is full of lush green forests, mountains and great looking places. However, even with the diversity offered here, it can still feel similar to the map for Just Cause 3. Tornadoes do make a major difference, especially during traversal but there is always the feeling that we are just playing more of the same.
If you didn’t like Just Cause 3, there is a good chance this sequel won’t win your heart. It is the same thing, just with more variety and freedom added on top of it. Grappling hook has received yet another update letting you tie a balloon that can lift even the heaviest object if you attach enough of them. They are useful when trying to clear blockades, fly away enemies or do all types of crazy stunts with them. The sky is the limit once you add boosters and balloons together; you can travel in the most extravagant ways.
Another improvement this time is for the weapons. They offer the same creativity and fun that are typically associated with developer Insomniac Games. You can find some great variety of weapons that will help you wreak havoc on the enemies. Some of these also offer an alternative mode of fire which is a powerful or tricky shot. Ammunition is an issue though, but you can just run and pick the weapon dropped by your enemies. If you feel stuck in a tight spot, supply drops are available that can basically fulfill all your travel and combat needs.
This brings me to the most boring part of Just Cause 4. The lack of an engaging story or memorable character means that missions are mostly a set of checklists that you complete to advance to the next stage. Once you have cleared a specific number of goals, you can advance your squad to capture that region which then unlocks another new set of missions. It is a tedious and boring loop that is somewhat made bearable with the enjoyable gameplay.
Just Cause 4 also offers a rather confusing UI layout at first, which makes it harder to appreciate or understand the events surrounding the story. The confusing UI layout extends to not just the world map, but also the loadout screen. It will all feel overwhelming at first, but after some time with the game, it starts to make more sense. Even if the game has a tutorial to explain most of the basics, it just doesn’t work that well.
The physics are completely insane this time around and watching Rico ride a car into a Tornado the first time is a jaw-dropping experience. Thankfully, you are not running around this time to blow random bases, and the mission variety does feel different, even if most of it is boring. Fast travel is available easily, and the load times get cut down significantly whether you boot the game the first time or use the fast travel option.
Despite testing the game on a PS4 Pro, the visual quality is so bad that it can look like an early PS4 game. The image quality has a very grainy look, and the aliasing is a sore on the eyes. The performance is so much better though, so if this was the sacrifice for getting a stable performance, I don’t think it is a big deal. HDR is somehow supported but at the moment, it is completely broken. The colors are all washed out and customization for the gamma or brightness doesn’t seem to do anything to fix it. On top of it, the bugs also extend to the general gameplay segments and collision detection or enemy AI can always glitch out during missions.
Just Cause 4 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Just Cause 4 is an action-adventure game developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Square Enix. It is the fourth game in the Just Cause series and the sequel to 2015's Just Cause 3 and was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on December 4, 2018.
Final Score - 7/10
Just Cause 4 shows that you don't need a story to provide an entertaining gameplay, but the lack of activities in a massive open world is also its biggest fault. Giving the players an open playground with tools of destruction is basically the selling point of this game.