Just Cause 3 Review in Progress
Good old chaos, bad framerate
Having just received our copy of Just Cause 3 in today, we're obviously not ready to pass any judgement on the game quite yet. However, as of now, I can talk about my experience with the game thus far. I've been able to finally delve into the game's open sandbox gameplay after a few tutorial missions and I'm happy to report that as far as a Just Cause game goes, it certainly looks and feels like one.
The game doesn't waste much time and right off the bat starts you off with a rocket launcher while standing on top of a flying plane. It practically screams "Hey, you're playing a Just Cause game!" Not much longer after that, I was driving a car while the NPC along for the ride was shooting the guys chasing me, and ended up in a rebel base which let me get into a tank and dispose of the rest. And immediately following that, I got into a chopper and flew to my next location.
Just Cause 3 wants you to feel like you're in a playground that's built for your destruction, and ultimately right out of the gate, it succeeds in that. It's not much longer after, that you're presented with the game's first liberation mission. Much like Just Cause 2, items that are in red, are clear marks for your tools of destruction. How you go about it is completely up to you. Even something as simple as taking down a dictator's statue can be done in one of many ways. Use a rocket launchers, or tether it to another object with your grappling hook and pull it down, crash into it with a vehicle, or catapult a vehicle into it.
If there is one thing that Just Cause 3 embraces it's player's choice. This is evident not only with how you tackle missions, but with how you traverse the environment as well. You can grapple your way around the map, as you parachute around, or you can try out your wingsuit to get around quicker, but handling it is much trickier. You can also simply hijack any vehicle you see and use that. After all, nothing gets you from point A to point B quicker than a jet.
As you liberate towns, you'll be presented with side missions, some involving the wingsuit, others involving driving or flying through checkpoints, and some causing mayhem. While normally side missions are often relegated as optional content, in Just Cause 3, they're far more important, as they're tied to skill and gadget progression. You see, each one is tied to a 5 star rating, or in JC3's case, 5 gears. Earning these gears will allow you to unlock various Mods that ultimately make your time on the islands of Medici that much more fun.
These Mods are split into eight different categories, Destruction, Explosives, Weapons, Tether, Traversal, Land Vehicle, Air Vehicle and Sea Vehicle. In each of these categories are unlocks that are tied to earning gears from side missions. For example, by completing the various Wingsuit challenges, you'll unlock gears in the Traversal Mods. And trust me, you'll want to be unlocking these. They can be anything from unlocking nitrous or the ability to jump with cars, more and stronger tethers, homing grenades, taking less damage from impact and tons more. They all definitely seem to be worthwhile, and tying them to side missions is smart, as it makes them see more integrated and part of the actual game.
So here's where things get a little less pretty, in stark contrast to Just Cause 3's beautiful islands; The framerate. I'm currently playing on the PS4 with the Day 1 patch installed (at least I'm assuming since one had to download before I started playing) and the framerate can get so bad, that the game outright freezes for a second. Things don't even have to get that hectic for it to suffer slowdown. That's really bad. I've included two videos below that showcase just how bad it can get. The first video showcases some of the slowdown when stuff starts exploding.
The second video below has less explosions, but strangely worse framerate issues. You can see the game coming to a halt completely just by spinning the camera. Granted, there's still a lot of stuff happening in the background with enemies shooting each other, but it's absolutely ridiculous at how bad it gets. Check it out below.
The thing is, the game expects you to do this sort of stuff. It expects you to spin the camera to be aware of your surroundings, to zip around buildings with your grappling hook and fly around with your parachute. The consoles just don't seem to be able to handle all of this happening at once.
Now in total, I've liberated two towns and one enemy base, and in all three cases, when chaos ensued, the framerate took a dip. Mind you, it's not like the game ran at a shitty framerate for an extended amount of time. In most cases, when I'm just flying around the map, the framerate is fine. As soon as the action starts, it starts to go downhill and that's absolutely inexcusable. It completely ruins any sort of flow you had going, and in JC3's case, when most of the game is all about chaining actions together, it really brings that whole experience down. The bigger problem is that I'm not even far into the game. There will most likely be much larger encounters as the game moves forward, and I'm worried about it being able to keep up with all of it. Now granted, this is very much a console issue. I'm sure that if you're playing on a capable PC, these issues will most likely be non-existent for you.
Make sure to stay tuned for our complete Review, later this week.