Sandbox games tend to get recognized based on how easy it is to get creative with and how stable it is with whatever you’re doing, a fine example would be ‘Garry’s Mod.’ While some are meant to be building things, the game we’re about to review is generally about destroying everything with the multitude of tools you have at your disposal, and that game is Just Cause 4.
This fourth installment in the series fully embraces a comical over-the-top action flick, with your triple form hero taking on the treacherous corporation taking over the land. You take charge of your own army and start your campaign. Ships, planes, countless guns and even weather control weapons, you ready? Let’s see how it fares on the PlayStation 4.
Production (2.7 / 5)
Okay, there’s no getting around it. The PS4 version is definitely suffering on the graphics end. While the foliage looks convincing enough models generally pass, a lot of issues quickly become noticeable. Some textures don’t look very detailed and others look pretty okay, sadly some of the less impressive textures can be on your character’s clothes. Another unfortunate effect would be how lighting performs especially in cutscenes, making it harder to see faces. Edges look noticeably rough too. And finally the blur effects are all over the place, it seems overused and caused me to get dizzy during my first hours of play with the game. Though I’m not sure if they patched it or I just got used to it as it bothered me less as time went on. In contrast, most of the vehicles look great, they generally look more detailed and clean, and they also all explode in a satisfying way. A lot of the graphic refinements seem to have been put aside in favor of being able to generate gigantic maps that you can pretty much level to the ground, so maybe that’s not so bad as a trade off.
The general aesthetic seems to ride on a popular bright and wild theme you usually see in games like Fortnite, in contrast to your enemies who are a monotone black. While this is generally okay, it’s a very predictable way to go so it doesn’t feel very inspired. It also reflects how most of the map really doesn’t have any notable landmarks, making navigation sometimes feel very confusing and frustrating. The fully voiced game tends to ham up the dialogue but that seems to fit the bill just right. Then the explosions, well, the explosions are great.
There’s also a live radio that you can access while handling vehicles, staying in-theme and actually sourcing some pretty catchy songs if you’re up for that. Though, be warned that it can get you in trouble if you stream with it, hard to tell these days with all the licensing issues.
Mechanics (4 / 5)
Just Cause 4 being another entry in the open-world genre, approaches progression the conventional way, exploration, collection, and challenges. While it says that destroying enemy encampments helps you grind level, it’s really all about clearing missions and challenges. By completing them you unlock new options either for weapons, vehicles or functions with your grappling hook, we’ll get back to the grappling hook later.
The basic idea is that you raise an army by taking on missions, and in effect your ‘Army of Chaos’ grows. This allows them to cover more ground and gives you more territory in the map, which circles back to access to missions and challenges, pretty simple.
One of the very unique experience this title presents would be being able to freely switch between 3 forms of traversal at any time. Wingsuit, parachute, and going on two legs makes my inner mecha fanboy immediately see the transforming planes from Macross (aka: Robotech), combining this with the grappling hook, exploration and travel is fun and hardly boring.
Now, getting back to the grappling hook, it’s basically what allows you to be creative the most in the game. Aside from moving around like Batman, you can attach gadgets like a balloon and a booster. Basically if it can move, you can manipulate it, instead of shooting down goons I began making them float with balloons or fly away with boosters. It didn’t take long for me to begin doing this for vehicles and even base installations, I’ve found a new art form.
Content (3.8 / 5)
As mentioned before, progression is done through collection. Unfortunately the method of collection is by completing missions and challenges that kinda don’t get creative. Move past a speed trap at a certain speed, fly your wingsuit through this specific course, destroy this thing or that base. It’s pretty rinse-and-repeat so it can be easy to get bored with it a couple of hours in. There are a few missions that change up what exactly what you’re supposed to do but they are very few and far between. Maybe it can be exciting if you’re trying a new vehicle or weapon, and having them unlocked for regular use is enough of a motivation. But it’s not like they’re all very useful or meant to stick with you the entire game. Everything you get is pretty much just another toy in the toybox, for you to play with for a time then leave after.
It does lay out short-term objectives and rewards that help for your long-term goal, but it can maybe have used more zany characters to fight against. Having mid-bosses would have made a more complete and colorful playground for Just Cause 4 to play in, making more opportunities for character development and humor.
The addition of weather weaponry suddenly makes every little thing come together as this wonderful collage of chaos and destruction, especially with the tornado, but that is a pay-off that is pretty far-in and you’re not really introduced to it enough for it to be teased.
Features (3.7 / 5)
This title has very convenient fast travel which is also paired up with a supply drop system, cementing the idea that this is quite literally a giant sandbox for you to put anything together and come up with ways to please your aesthetic thirst for explosions.
However, you might want to backup your saves especially if you’re going the route of the completionist. Open-world types do typically have issues with stability and Just Cause 4 is no exception, even on the PS4 it can crash, and possibly corrupt your save.
You know, this probably would fare much better if it has a multiplayer function, but unfortunately it doesn’t right now.
Making creative ways to cause mayhem is pretty much what the game is made for, if you’re searching for a satisfying action adventure this isn’t quite hitting the mark. It’s missing things that would make combat satisfying like proper AI, or even a radar. Open-world games leaving much to be desired for their combat is nothing new, but this game takes it further by simply swarming you with helicopters and foot soldiers until you discover that you can actually die.
While it clearly does not look it’s best on the PS4, I found times that this game would shine, especially when you’ve snatched an aircraft in-flight from your enemies or taken control of a battleship allowing you to single-handedly level down a base. This doesn’t last very long though, as the variation of activities limits your creativity. If you believe that explosions should be its own scientific discipline, perhaps this will be a good fit for you, and probably better on the PC.
Just Cause 4 can be explosive, but can use a bit more rocket fuel scoring a 3.5 / 5.
Available on PS4, X1, and PC.
This game review was made possible by the wonderful people at Square-Enix and Bandai-Namco Entertainment Asia.