The summer might be known for mindless action in the movie theatres, but Avalanche Studios is bringing that sort of high-octane, lowbrow thrill ride to your couch this winter. Just Cause 3 may not want to tax your brain — creative thinking and hand-eye coordination aside — but as much as I enjoy a whip-smart videogame, I also appreciate a game this fiercely focused on absurdist fun.
You once again play Rico Rodriguez, a "dictator removal specialist," and Avalanche's cinematic ambitions are revealed off the bat. The game starts fast and furious by introducing our hero, his team, his fictional Mediterranean island homeland of Medici, and the military dictatorship snakes in paradise that you will be taking out once you join the rebellion.
Then it's onto the tone-setting set piece. You're heading home on a propeller plane and, after quipping that you're plan is to do "something subtle," you strap on a rocket launcher, climb atop the plane and start blasting the military base below. When the plane is hit, you simply parachute to safety like it ain't no thing.
Just Cause 3 wants to give you free reign to kill at will without feeling bad about it so the bad guys here are cartoonishly bad. Though to be fair, the whole open-world is essentially a cartoon, especially when it comes to its incredibly amusing physics. The game's signature grappling hook with parachute is joined by a cool new wingsuit and the combination opens up anything and everything on the island.
And what an island it is. Just Cause has always provided a tropical sandbox to play in – a nice break from the real-world winter outside – and this one is the digital equivalent of 400 square miles and somewhat denser and more varied and destructible than the last go-round in Southeast Asia.
As the game proceeds, you will join the rebels in taking down the mustache-twirling General Sebastiano Di Ravello in a variety of ways. In fact, the game is so open-ended that it would be surprising if many players had the same experience since it's ultimately about causing as much acrobatic and chaotic destruction as possible as imaginatively and explosively as possible.
Though decently directed and voice-acted, it doesn't exactly push gaming forward, but it doesn't aspire to either. "Just Cause" could be referencing the moral impetus for your tyrant removing mission. Or maybe it really means "just because," as in giving you the freedom to do whatever you want however you want it. Sometimes that's enough.