July 25, 2021

Xbox One X

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Just Cause 4 review – likeably scrappy open-world carnage

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My favourite character in the new Just Cause is called Larry. That’s what I decided to call him anyway. When I met him, Larry was – how can I say this? – recently dead. Furthemore, Larry was – how can I say this? – attached to the fender of the car I had probably used to kill him. I say probably because in the heat of the moment in a Just Cause game it can be hard to say what happens and who makes it happen. The thing is, Larry wasn’t just dead, and he wasn’t just attached to the fender of the car I was driving. He was also floating in the air, ragdolling in a perfect summer breeze. That’s because one of his legs – I forget which one – was attached to a massive helium balloon that was holding him aloft. I didn’t spot Larry for a good five minutes, I reckon, such is the pace of a typical Just Cause mission. Once I did, I found it hard to let him go. For one thing, I had grown fond of him. (You could say I was attached to him.) For another, I couldn’t remember the button to snap the tethers.

There are two kinds of story generated by a Just Cause game, I reckon. The first kind of story is breathless – action piled upon improbable reaction with no pauses in the telling whatsoever. The other kind of story – you could call it the Larry Story – is defined by its pauses: confusion, disbelief, slow realisation, shame. This guy was dead…and I think I killed him…and then I attached him to my car…? And to a balloon…? And I drove around for another half hour?

Just Cause 4 isn’t short on the first kind of story, of course. Here’s an example from a mission I encountered about halfway in.

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