Panau is an archipelago that is the ultimate tropical paradise. Casinos, tropical rainforests and even a high mountain peak where snow is constantly falling makes for a fantastic life, if only it was peaceful and not inhabited by a fatter, darker version of the despotic Kim Jong-un who recently seized power in a coup. You play as Rico, an operative with the secret organisation known as The Agency. Your mission – which you accepted since you have no choice – is to track down Tom Sheldon, your old mentor who may have helped in the coup.

What follows is hilarity, pure mayhem and lots of sh*t blown up. Also, more dead soldiers than the official population of the entire archipelago. You can only get away with it if you have some serious toys that allow you to escape quickly. The infinitely deployable parachute and grappling hook are hilarious if you can think of innovative ways to destroy military assets. That, and guns, lots of guns. You have access to both in your quest to end the despotic rule of Kim Jong-un’s pacific cousin and finding your old mentor.

Just Cause 2 is your typical sandbox game, albeit with a massive open world. It’s over 1000 square kilometres in size with various towns, villages and military assets to destroy or plunder. Progress is measured by the cumulative amount of destruction you dish out upon the country by whatever means you deem is necessary fun. There are also opportunities to upgrade your weapons and missions that you can undertake to assist the islanders in getting rid of their despised leader.

This game is like a giant version of GTA San Andreas, arguably the best of the Grand Theft Auto series so far. The environments are varied, the guns all feel unique and the fighting is intense. The AI is also smart enough to chase you down and the enemies are definitely tough enough. It is undeniably fun, but sadly there is just a little bit lacking in the game. The island doesn’t really feel alive. It’s undeniably pretty to look at, but like a supermodel at a particle physics convention, there’s just something missing. I think some of it has to do with the behaviour of the virtual population of Panau. Where GTA has lots of different types of people who behave quite unpredictably, whether they be an impatient driver running a red light in Liberty City or muggings that randomly happen on the streets, Panau doesn’t have that. Sure, the various criminal factions you’re helping out run around shooting at the military, but that’s isolated bahaviour at best.

The biggest criticism I can make of the game is the terrible, terrible voice acting. I’m sure that I’ve been spoilt by BioWare, Rockstar and Bethesda’s excellent and stellar casts of voices for their games. But the polish of the graphics and finely crafted world of Just Cause 2 is really let down by the voice acting of the various characters. It has nothing to do with their accents, and everything to do with the way they all sound tired and the pace of their speech doesn’t seem natural. However, it adds directly to the desire to blow sh*t up, so I’m happy to tolerate it.

So, is Just Cause 2 any good? There’s plenty good about it, but it’s not as complete a game as those from the GTA series or even the Saints Row series but it also takes the best from both worlds and gives you free reign over a massive virtual world. Sure, the game play might get a bit repetitive, since the only thing you can really do to interact with the environment is blow it up, but if you’re looking for a quick getaway where not much thinking is required of you, Just Casse 2 is definitely an ideal candidate.

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