Rrrrrrico Rodriguez is back! In his fourth adventure, the former secret agent and the one-man army in person are taken to the South American island of Solís, where he not only has to deal again with an unscrupulous despot, but also with tornadoes and other meteorological anomalies. And it wouldn’t be Just Cause if our hero wouldn’t ruin the island paradise.
Already before the last part Rico turned his back on the Agency and went back to his home Medici, which he liberated from a tyrannical dictator. In Just Cause 4, it even becomes a bit more personal, because now he’s going to South America to learn the truth about his father’s death and his past on the island of Solís. Here he is in his element. On the one hand because his father obviously did not die of a natural cause of death and Rico now wants to avenge him naturally, on the other hand because the island is subjugated by the heartless businessman Oscar Espinosa, which of course goes against the grain of a hero like Rico Rodriguez. The villain is supported by the dangerous Gabriela Morales, who is not only one of the most bitter, capable and unpredictable opponents to date, but also the leader of the Black Hand, a group of unscrupulous mercenaries. The fact that Papa was also one of the main people responsible for the “Project Illapa”, with which you can influence the weather, is then only the icing on the cake on the cake.
Yes, Just Cause 4 has all the ingredients for a buzzing B-movie action hit : an extremely cool hero, villainous villains, a mysterious technology that’s likely to take over the world, and a picturesque backdrop. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t expect too much in terms of story and staging, as the story remains largely unexciting, the individual characters present themselves as the usual, classic stereotypes, and the action is reduced to explosive long-term action. So typical Just Cause.
Part 4 also remains true to the series in a playful way, but packages the whole in a comprehensive campaign of conquest, at least superficially. The island of Solís is divided into several areas, each of which is controlled from a central headquarters. If we destroy it, we can order our troops, in the form of a constantly growing rebel army, into this area and take it. We are allowed to hire new fighters by means of the currency “Chaos” and we get them by creating such a currency. That means about as much as blowing up and destroying anything. The more successful we are, the more our chaos bar fills up and the more rebel colleagues will support us. What does this bring us? On the one hand, completing a mission controlled by our troops is much easier than completing it in enemy territory, and on the other hand, it’s the only way we can get ahead in the story. On the other hand, we can also request valuable help, such as pilots who then supply us with supplies of material, weapons and vehicles.
But anyone who thinks now, or hopes that Rico has transformed himself from a ruthless warhorse into a tactical commander-in-chief, is mistaken: The conquest of the island remains very superficial, because once territories have been won, they are no longer recaptured by the enemy, and in the end, the change of ownership merely influences the order of the missions to be completed. These are not very creative, by the way. We have to destroy a certain number of objects, free the obligatory hostages, activate switches or defend areas while a colleague hacks into a terminal. Even the tornadoes announced as a great feature have very little meaning playfully, as they only occur in certain parts of the island. Usually you only have to follow them or throw in some object. There would surely have been more in there, but the different weather caprioles and their effects are still cool.
Of course Rico can also fall back in Just Cause 4 on a rich arsenal of weapons, his Wingsuit as well as the beloved grab hook. The latter has even been upgraded considerably: It’s not only used for fast locomotion, as usual, or to get to higher places, while you can also connect two objects with it and pull them together, by completing side quests you can also upgrade your gadget, for example with thrusters, which you can then attach to enemies and items to throw them away. The balloons have also been added. If you attach enough of them to enemies, vehicles or various objects, they will float upwards. The clou about it: You can constantly improve the individual functions and even combine them with each other. This results in such bizarre constructions as a floating tank equipped with thrusters that can attack an enemy base from the air. Various configurations can even be saved and triggered by a simple keystroke. Unfortunately, it is a pity that the grapple hook is hardly used in the actual main missions. Rico’s universal tool, combined with the impressive physical effects, would offer enough possibilities to loosen up the mission design a bit.
old, faulty and stupid technology
Although the island of Solís, with around 1,024 km2 , is slightly smaller than its predecessor, it now offers much more variety thanks to its four different climate zones including different weather effects. Unfortunately, the optical variation only means a limited improvement in terms of graphics, because from a technical point of view, there are some rough points of criticism. The farsightedness is very high, but you have to reckon with pop-up objects again and again. In addition, there are partly muddy textures and flickering edges. All in all, everything looks quite reasonable, but compared to the competition, the APEX engine used lags a bit behind. Above all, I always had the impression that seemed to be too little time to optimize the technical graphics framework for the PC. On my test computer, which fulfills the recommended system requirements, there were always breakdowns in the frame rate, especially with larger explosions. If you want to enjoy a smooth gameplay with a stable frame rate, you have to gamble on a strong computer with a current graphics card (at least Geforce GTX 1070 or equivalent). Another point that confirms this unfinished impression is the control. The assignment of mouse and keyboard is unnecessarily complicated. Especially the steering of aircrafts becomes a thing of impossibility, whereby I connected the controller to the computer after a few minutes and continued playing with it.
Note: Square Enix has already responded to the problems we’ve also reported and improved both keyboard control of flying vehicles and performance with a patch. Unfortunately too late, the changes couldn’t be considered in this article anymore.
The control on PlayStation 4 works differently to the PC version. The loading times are pleasantly fast and also in terms of performance I didn’t have to struggle with any difficulties. A big drawback, however, is the graphics: Especially on the non-pro console it looks really outdated and reminds of the PS3 era. If you combine this with the fact that the game is very green/brown-heavy and the opponents often blur with the background, the visual aspect basically poses more challenges than the actual missions, which are quite easy to accomplish.
Criticism exists both on PC and for the console version for the really partly ugly cutscenes. Not only because these are displayed optically in a very low resolution, but also because of the miserable staging. Here one gets to hear dialogues of shame, which are then not even lip-synced by the protagonists. Rico Rodriguez is no longer dubbed by Moritz Bleibtreu, by the way, and anyone who knows my article about Just Cause 3 knows that I think it’s good. Nevertheless my recommendation: Play in the original English version, which is a bit better than the German version.
And because we’re so good at criticizing: The AI is partly so weak that it does not deserve the name “intelligence”. This starts with opponents who don’t react to my attacks at all or only inadequately up to complete dropouts when driving vehicles. This never makes Just Cause really difficult, even if you are facing whole hordes of opponents. But this is also partly because Rico is a tough dog, can take a lot and regenerates his life energy quickly. I have to admit that I often blew myself up by a wrongly placed detonation when I died by enemy fire.
CONCLUSION Sabine (PS4)
In general Just Cause 4 scores again for me in terms of the basic concept: Plenty, and above all some new possibilities, to destroy things creatively, make mood and also the missions present themselves, after the somewhat monotonous beginnings, as varied and fun, although not very demanding. Unfortunately, the pyrophile gameplay is a bit clouded by a not too thrilling story and the above mentioned graphics problems. Those who aren’t deterred by these things and are primarily looking forward to blowing up as much as imaginatively as possible will at least get some solid entertainment with the fourth part of the Just Cause series.
CONCLUSION Tom (PC)
As a self-confessed Just Cause fan, I’m disappointed by the fourth part to be honest. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the technical implementation was only mediocre, because apart from the sometimes very mixed look, it’s the weak AI, the lack of hardware optimization and the absolutely unsuccessful mouse/keyboard control that annoy me as a PC player. The typical story weaknesses of the series, on the other hand, I can quite overcome, the largely uninspired mission design is again a big minus, because there would definitely have been more to it. It’s a shame, because Just Cause 4 can score in its core discipline. Thanks to the new features, the wilful and senseless destruction of everything and everyone has never been as entertaining as in Just Cause 4, but in the long run the screen-filling explosions and action-packed baller orgies unfortunately couldn’t captivate me. In spite of all the criticism, which is certainly due to the high expectations, I will definitely return to Solís more often. Not because I want to see the end of Rico’s adventure, but to experiment with his grappling hook and the great physics engine, because it’s really a lot of fun!
What is Just Cause 4? The fourth adventure of the hooligan Rico Rodriguez.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested: on PC Intel Core i7-8750H, 6x 2.20GHz , 16 GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070 & Playstation 4
Developer / Publisher: Avalanche Studios / Square Enix
Release: December 04, 2018