No this post is not about Heavy Rain. I have no interest in eating red herrings.
I'm starting to play through Just Cause 2 and my feelings on it are mixed. The action is loud, ridiculous even. There are explosions a plenty as you tear across Panau in your vehicle of choice (any helicopter will do). It does suffer a little from Uncharted syndrome however, as even the lowest ranked enemies can hit you 2 miles away with a pistol. The graphics for the environment and vehicles are spectacular, the people not so much. As a matter of fact, the quality of animation observed in enemy soldiers is sub-par but when you consider the sheer amount of enemy soldiers, vehicles and structures on screen it is forgivable.
JC2 is probably sounding pretty good to you, as it should. There are two things about this game that really tear me apart though.
One of my favourite games on the Playstation 2 (and Xbox) was Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Mercenaries was another sandbox action game where you could drive, fly and run almost anywhere causing vast amounts of destruction, capturing high-value targets and cozying up to the three military factions that vied for control of North Korea. The mood of the game (despite the ridiculous nature of the action) often felt dark, as though the soul of this turmoil-stricken country was being torn apart by invaders of various nationalities. I used to play this game with a group of friends. I would rarely share the controller but we all watched in awe as buildings fell and enemies tumbled to the ground in a blaze of bullets. Years later, the sequel was released and I was dying to get the disc in my PS3. I can not describe how much this game hurt me. It failed to improve on the original in any way and in many areas the level of quality receded. The quiet, not entirely silent cast that I loved in the original had turned into a pack of purile vultures; itching to get revenge on the Venezuelan militant who shot them (depending on you played as) "in the ass." While playing Just Cause 2 I can't help but think this is the game that Mercenaries 2 should have been. Sigh.
Aspects of the sound design in this game are downright awful. I know that some, like the voice acting is supposed to be bad. You know, the "so bad it's good," variety. It doesn't make me laugh though, it almost offends me. You need look (or rather hear) no further than Reaper leader: Bolo Santosi's painfully stereotypical accent to understand what I mean. The score is also nothing short of corny. I know that it is supposed to suit the chaotic nature of the game but it really takes me out of the action sometimes.
Don't get me wrong. I am loving Just Cause 2 and it's unique brand of lol worthy gameplay. I can't recommend this game strongly enough as I've done so much in my time on Panau, however I feel as though I have barely scratched the surface. This presents a problem which I am more than happy to suffer, as I need to invest more time in JC2 while Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City and Midnight Club: Los Angeles begin to gather dust on the shelf.
What games are you playing at the moment? While I do enjoy multiplayer titles, there is nothing I enjoy more than an absorbing single-player experience and Just Cause 2 is definitely providing that for now.
Dutch note: Thanks to Mum and Dad for Just Cause 2. The gift of game keeps on giving in the Damen house!