Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Merits of Mindless Fun

By this point in the game's lifespan, you've either heard of or played Just Cause 2, assuredly, so you pretty much already know what it's about.  Until today, I was only in the former category, but with scant few days before the Vita is in my grasp and boredom ceases to exist for months, I've got a little blank area with gaming.  While I am still pumped to start a new game in Alpha Protocol, I know there's no way I'd be able to get through it in four days of playtime, so yesterday and today, I decided on simply trying out a few of the games I either haven't played or have neglected for some time.  Yesterday's time was spent with Sengoku Basara 3:  Samurai Heroes and today was spent with Grapple Hook:  The Game.  Because honestly, who goes ten seconds without using the thing once you finally understand just how to use it?  I didn't, at the very least.

Just Cause 2 doesn't pretend to be anything beyond what it is; good ol' mindless fun, and good for it on that, because there's absolutely no way the game could be taken seriously.  While there's a story with....questionable voice acting, it merely exists as a backdrop for the carnage you're going to create on a large scale over your time with the game.  When the first mission entails you jumping from a helicopter to catch up to a flying dead body (which would not work) and then parachuting into an enemy base that you are expected to not only collect items from, but kill everyone there and blow up a few buildings or installations for their trouble before using a grappling hook to fly away in a helicopter, you know what you signed on for.  Added to that is the fact that not only is the above carnage encouraged and fun, but it's required in the sense that you have to do so to fill up the 'Chaos' meter which, at certain levels, will unlock Story-centric missions as well as a few other random things.  And if there was ever a case to make for "Required doesn't always mean not fun", it would be this, since I am more than happy to tool around until I can tear down a statue with nothing beyond a cable and a vehicle, or blow up a gas station by bailing out of a speeding car heading into one of the pumps.

In fact, after the short story missions that the game opens with, that's all I did.  I'm sure there was other stuff I could've done, found missions to do for one of the factions available or something, but I just wasn't interested which I fear might become a hurdle in the game.  Much like how I loathed not being able to just explore as I wished in Assassin's Creed:  Brotherhood, I imagine I'll feel a similar annoyance at ending my destructive shenannigans to actually play the game, though I suspect it's quite a bit more lax on that than AssBro was.  I am a little unimpressed with how far the destructible elements seem to be spread, however, as I flew all around the starting island with the grappling hook and parachute and, aside from a few spots with a few Fuel Tanks and the like, the majority of my findings were simply water towers.  Which were great to blow up and in fact it was fairly funny to watch as my character (who might just be referred to as Scorpion/Scorpio?) flew off of one after it violently exploded, but I want more.  I suppose I might have been spoiled by my time with Red Faction:  Guerrilla, in the sense that I want to level all of the things and I know that's just impossible.

When I wasn't looking for things to blow up, however, I did enjoy some time simply playing around with the double-hook function of the Grappling Hook which, and I say this with only minimal exaggeration, might have been one of the greatest ideas in anything ever.  There's something immensely funny about sticking these digital crash test dummies, essentially, with a grappling hook and then attaching the other end to a moving vehicle to watch them get dragged.  As well as being chased by a squad of cars who suddenly watch one of their own fly up in the air doing flips simply because a cable caught them and a part of the road that they just passed at 80 Miles per hour.  Or using that same ideology to send a car flying off a bridge, instantly neutralizing any danger it might possess.  Or even just sticking an enemy up to swing about impotently from a lamp post as you fill him with lead flying from a sub machine gun like a sick game of pinata.  I could go on and on, I'm sure you realize, and with good reason because it is just that versatile.

Even minus all that fun you get, it is as incredibly potent as a navigational device as you might expect since not only does it zip you, near instantly, from Point A to Point B with minimal fuss, but it also has another use in conjunction with your backpack that apparently has an infinite amount of parachutes in it.  I'll admit that not since Grand Theft Auto:  San Andreas have I ever tried to control a parachute in a video game (at least, that I remember) so it was a bit strange and I'm sure the physics for it also exist outside of reality, but both tools in conjunction with one another offer you near-super hero levels of traversability which is a word, I don't even care Firefox shut up.  Not only that, but it's insanely intuitive for as complicated as you think it might be.  Eyeball a location you want to get to and if you can't just zip there, look at somewhere you can zip to.  Zip and slam X while you're in the air to slingshot out with your parachute and from there either guide it with more grappling shots or zip to your desired location, should you be within range of it.  It's astounding.

If I could complain about the game at all, which I find that I can, quite easily so, it'd likely be about the fact that I am dying a hell of a lot.  I'm only playing Normal since I threw it in to show off to some others and even with that, it seems that the health system is not quite up to par since there's rarely any feedback from being shot or hit aside from when you're critical and the screen starts to pulse red.  Afterwards, if you manage to not get hurt for a few moments, you'll regenerate to -just outside- of critical and no higher, meaning that even a single shot will bring on the red screen pulse again until you happen upon a Med Kit.  On top of that, the duration of the double-hook is unfortunately a little shorter than I would like.  While it's fun to hook someone to an already moving vehicle, I wanted to hook someone to a vehicle that I could then drive, dragging them along behind, but I find that before I've even begun speeding up, the hook has undone already and I'm towing nothing.  Similarly so, people just do not hang for long enough from structures that I want them to swing from.  Still, little troubles with a game that more than makes up for it with fun.

I imagine it's going to be a quick few days with Just Cause 2 as my day-filler, so let's hope for that, if just so I can shut up about not being able to wait anymore.  I'm almost annoying myself with it.

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