Just Cause 2 is the latest game from Swedish developer, Avalanche Studios, who're looking to push players to the limit again, this time on the fictional island of Panau. Players return once again to take on the role of vigilante protagonist Rico Rodriguez, who is looking to help free the country from the rule of evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay.
For those not familiar with the first title, the gameplay is all about taking risks. And by risks, that means jumping out of a helicopter and landing on a moving plane, or base jumping from a cliff into an enemy stronghold. This model of gameplay is only set to become even more daring in Just Cause 2 as the island of Panau is huge - 35 square miles.
There are numerous locations for players to explore, and at each location destruction will probably ensue. Taking down enemy infrastructure is crucial to improving Rico's reputation with the local militia, which helps to unlock new missions as well as new items to be bought on the black market. Each location also has numerous items that can be picked up, which allow for weapon upgrades. However, don't expect the local law enforcement to take this kind of behaviour lightly. Should the player cause too much carnage, there are varying levels of resistance offered, but generally it relies on them having greater numbers. Despite improvements being made to the AI, enemy soldiers are still relatively stupid, and simply running around the opposite side of a building is generally enough to confuse them.
To help players deal with the increasing numbers of opposition though, there is a new targeting system which automatically aims. Despite this, players still have full control if they want to, and using manual aim makes it much easier to score head shots. To further aid players is the grappling hook, which has now has a few modifications. As well as being a handy mode of transport, players can now use a dual-grappling hook - allowing objects to be tethered together. There are also no limitations to what can be tethered as for example, enemy soldiers can be tethered to moving aircraft.
The gameplay feels pretty smooth for the most part, and base jumping and opening a parachute 20 metres above the ground will never get old. However, there are a few gripes. Firstly, it's possible to fall from great heights, and grapple the floor just before landing - this effectively means players can jump and take absolutely no fall damage, not exactly realistic. The other main problem is the lack of a grab. Quite often players will find themselves jump past a ledge, but not quite far enough to land on it. They then have to watch as Rico falls past it; the addition of a grab would have rendered this annoying experience obsolete.
Just Cause 2 is looking like it will improve on the original in almost every way. There are more death defying stunts, weapons, vehicles and explosions. Sure, some problems with the AI and gameplay still remain, but they don't detract too much from the experience and they don't really prevent the game from being fun to play. And that's the main thing here, Just Cause 2 is fun to play.