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Just Cause Preview for Xbox
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Just Cause 

Preview for Xbox

- William Usher, " Cyguration ", Senior Staff Writer
Friday, June 09, 2006 

Review Preview

Just Cause

Eidos Interactive
Avalanche Studios
Q2 2006
Rating Pending (RP)

Just Cause Screenshot Gallery

Just Cause Screenshot Gallery

Just Cause Screenshot Gallery

In Just Cause, players assume the role of a CIA agent who’s deep undercover; his name is Rico Rodriguez. As Rico, players will have the freedom to venture around the fictional 1,225 square-mile island of San Esperito. Rico’s goal is to thwart a renegade government who has attained a dangerous cache of deadly weapons. Hence, Rico must infiltrate their territory and overcome the evil government by uncovering their hidden stock-pile of weapons of mass destruction.

While the story seems rather straightforward, the fact that every mission can be done entirely at the free-will of the player makes it very worth-while. So you can do any mission in the game, three times over, in completely different ways each time. The non-linear progression of the missions will provide players with creative and unique ways to complete any mission in the way that they see fit. Players can direct Rico to work for various factions, ranging from the San Esperito police to the Rebel militia to the drug lords. According to the developers, “The player can also play around with the power structures of the island, helping drug cartels and guerrillas in their struggles or making life hard on those who oppose them. You can even help liberating settlements and provinces from the dictatorial reign of the hated President Mendoza.” The purpose of the open-ended freedom is to utilize all the various skills Rico has and all the different vehicles at his disposal. Besides, it’s much more fun not playing by the rules.

Rico the Roadwarrior

Speaking of vehicles, there’s over 100 which will make an appearance in Just Cause. The range of variations for each vehicle could nearly triple or quadruple that number. From the standard pickup truck, muscle car and sports utility jeep to speedboats, four-wheelers and semi-trucks, there’s something in there for everyone. Still, to keep things above the norm Avalanche Studios has implemented the likes of hand-gliders, twin engine planes and even high-speed aerial fighters. Whether there will be dog-fighting between fighter-jets has yet to be confirmed, however you can launch an aerial barrage of missiles on (un)suspecting ground-dwellers.

Besides the vast vehicle selection, it appears the vehicles each retain a formidable likeness to their real-life counterparts. The physics aren’t entirely realistic, but they do seem to give out just enough realism to seem convincing. Added to this is the inclusion of visible damage which each vehicle can take; spin-outs, wheelies, and other car stunts can also be performed. So, just about all the vehicle mechanics present in GTA will be making an appearance in Just Cause, and then some.

Car-jacking on the fly

There are many others making comparisons between Just Cause and Grand Theft Auto. Heck, it would take one super-duper game to out-do what Rockstar accomplished in San Andreas, [Hot Coffee aside]. Instead of trying to follow up on GTA as a worthy clone, Avalanche Studios have taken the high-road and are trying a completely different take on the open-ended environments. Rico will not be sporting various costumes and urban wear, but instead this CIA agent will be sporting stuntman qualities and action-pack maneuvers.

For instance, in Just Cause there is a big focus on going from one vehicle to the next, without ever touching the ground. This is an integral part of the gameplay: allowing players to maneuver around in acrobatic ways. Players can traverse from the vehicle to other nearby vehicles which players can car-jack on the fly. The ability to perform wicked stunts is furthered by the ability to leap from objects or hand-glide over vehicles and car-jack them. All of this can be done without the terrible momentum buster of falling to the ground first.

Rico is also equipped with a couple of aerial companions. One of those comes in the form of a parachute. Leaping from great heights can be dangerous, and the player-maneuverable parachute can help guide Rico to his next ride. If that's not action-packed enough, there’s even a grappling hook for some aerial swinging action. So if you feel the urge to show off those Batman skills, don't forget the trusty grappling hook.

Once Upon A Time in San Esperito

With all the vehicles and stunts available for players, it would only seem befitting that a wide-range of weaponry is made available for players, as well. Thankfully, the armament brandishes the likes of 25 different guns and other firearms including pistols, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, and more. If that’s not enough, Mr. Rodriguez is well and ready to dual-wield a number of single-handed weapons (The Mariachi best watch his back). There’s also vehicle related weapons, such as those found on the boats, military vehicles, and the fighter-jets. If that’s not enough, there’s even stationary artillery which players can get the most out of, as well as tons of explosive objects and items.

Seashores, sunshine and shotguns

If it wasn’t apparent from the screenshots already, this game has a beautiful balance for graphics and interactivity. Unlike GTA, Just Cause has some of the most well-rendered environments, characters and objects seen in recently developed games. The backdrops are absolutely gorgeous set against the real-time dynamic lighting effects from the day and night rotations. The water effects are especially attractive, with reflections and volumetric particles that react rather well when using boats and other water-based vehicles.

The most impressive visual aspect of the game is the long-range draw-distance. Scaling the view over the large city-scape showed off a screen full of tall buildings, walking pedestrians and mobile vehicles. How all of this will appear, exactly, on the PS2 and normal Xbox will be interesting. One of the more spectacular moments in the game, though, was a clip showing a bridge at a distance approaching fast. Rico was flying a fighter-jet, bringing it in at lightning speeds for a bombing raid on the bridge. The mere scope of everything that was on-screen—running in real-time—was very impressive.

Overall, this game is shaping up to be pretty cool. As long as Just Cause doesn't follow in the shades of GTA's gameplay too much, it should be all right. Because of all the stunts, explosive encounters and amazing weapon and vehicle selection, it appears this game might surpass the comparisons. With a release set for early Fall 2006, you can expect to see Just Cause on the PS2, Xbox, and Xbox 360 later this year.

For more information you can check out Xbox Core's exclusive interview here, or visit the Just Cause main website here.

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