Monday, February 20, 2012

More Time With Just Cause 2

I spent more time with Just Cause 2 today and while the in-game counter told me earlier that I was at a little over 9 hours it certainly felt like twice that, but in a good way.  As I figured, the world is a lot more open than AssBro, so I find that I'm completely unimpeded by invisible walls (per se, as they are quite visible) on my ongoing quest for discovery and destruction.  What has been impeding me, however, is apparently poor sight, as I can't exactly blame it on anything else.  Twice now, I've come to a point where the HUD and map tell me I'm a scant few percentage points away from clearing the area and for the life of me, I cannot find the last thing or few things that I need to round it out to an even 100%.  Which is as frustrating as you might think as a base, and even moreso for someone with a little bit of that 'gaming OCD' that may or may not exist in conjunction with seeing numbers next to numbers that aren't the same.

I guess, conceptually, it's not quite as different as scanning areas for ubiquitous MacGuffins of any sort of variety that the game tells you you want to collect for a variety of hastily-crafted reasons (which Just Cause 2 also has), but at least there's the pay-off of blowing it up once you've found it.  It's just different enough, for me at least, to not find it a chore to look for these things which I think makes all the difference in the world.  And it helps that the actual collectibles seem to be perpetually marked on your PDA so it's merely a matter of getting close enough for the in-game HUD to show you that you're near it.  Of course, that makes me wonder why it's not that simple for these destructible buildings and other such structures, but I guess that would just make the game too easy.  Since the good thing about Just Cause 2 is that it's a game about blowing things up.  But there's a case to be made for saying the bad thing about Just Cause 2 is that it's a game about blowing things up.

I've discovered, moreso than I initially thought, that there isn't a whole lot of meat to Just Cause 2 beyond causing chaos.  The story is rather slipshod and poorly acted out, since apparently they wanted to challenge Chrono Cross for the most use of poorly-done and unnecessary accents.  There is a hook that I won't spoil that I came across today that, in most other games I would likely find it so absurd that it was funny for it.  However, here it just felt a little....forced.  Or underwhelming, perhaps, since my reaction to it was basically ".....really?  We're having this?  Well....okay.", rather than a chuckle at it.  Of course, my lack of amusement could've come from having to do the mission prior to the hook three times because of -terrible- checkpoints and a cadre of bullshit soldiers at all four of the locations I had to destroy without getting killed in the meanwhile since even if I was on the last one and died, I would have to do all four all over again.  Which isn't an isolated problem, unfortunately.

I've found that the HEAT system is as finicky as it is bad (likely because the former part of this) since it basically means that, no matter where in the world you are, if you piss off the government, you will never see the end of them unless you parachute slingshot several kilometers away or hide behind the magical 'one building they won't look behind' or something.  It's reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto 3's system of "Six stars means make a grand last stand because you are going to die." which isn't wholly great, unfortunately.  I can sort of see it in some situations, but I was on an oil rig in the middle of the goddamn ocean at one point, systematically destroying everything on it and soldiers kept coming.  Yes, I understand that they can sail/cruise boats there and get on that way, but that doesn't account for just how they -always- managed to get the higher ground on me, especially since I never saw a single helicopter.

It's only mildly annoying until you find yourself in that position of constantly being at low health and having to zip around frantically to avoid damage long enough to regenerate to just past being critically wounded only to get hit with a magic bullet that starts the whole circuit over again.  Then you find yourself with a strange feeling of immortality that is also accompanied by a fear that you are, in fact, not immortal.  Because you're not.  But after you've just come back from the brink of death five times in the span of three minutes, you start to wonder if you -can- die.  And of course, then you do die and it's either mildly irritating to rage-inducing depending on whether or not you're in a mission since, as stated above, dying during a mission generally starts it over again negating that precious, precious progress that comes with making stuff explode.  Then again, the upside is that you get to blow it up -again-, so it's something of a wash, I suppose.

Still, Just Cause 2 is an exceedingly fun game and I guess it's telling that the only complaint I have about it is that it, in fact, sometimes allows me to relive the fun of destroying certain things.  And that I don't have an indicator of where things are that I can then blow up.  And that everything that isn't about blowing stuff up is B-movie quality at best.  Still, I think it's more important for a game to be fun than for it to be technically impressive, so even though it doesn't have both boxes checked, it has the most important one checked.  For the one last day I need between me and the Vita, it'll serve my purposes quite well I should say, and past that we'll just have to see.  I'm not saying I won't play it after the Vita just...likely with lessened frequency up-front.  Until such a point that I'm ready to jump back into the Chaotic land of Panau.

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