Can Avalanche get the Just Cause franchise back on course? The arrival of the latest series entry this week sees the developer scaling up its ambitions for the game: even more insane physics, more diverse tasks, more action-packed missions and the arrival of adverse weather conditions spread across four different biomes. Bearing in mind how much the last game struggled on consoles, has the developer bitten off more than it can chew? It’s against the odds perhaps but the truth is that Just Cause 4 pulls it off – the game is far more challenging on console hardware and yet the performance delivered is a night and day improvement over its predecessor.
What we like about the series remains in effect here – the open world is vast and Rico Rodriguez can explore it as he sees fit, meting out his own particular brand of explosive justice – but far more of an effort is made to push the game’s systems to even more spectacular effect. Boosters, airlifters and retractors add more utility to the grapple system and not only up the ante in terms of destruction, but also open the door to some basic puzzling. New weapons show some Insomniac-level imagination, and this time iron sights are open right from the beginning, adding some much-needed precision to the blasting. Vehicle handling? That’s been a focus for Avalanche too, with much improvement over the last game.
The arrival of adverse weather conditions is a highlight too – twisters can rip through towns, cities and bases, smashing through bridges, ripping all destructible scenery and vehicles from the ground, while high-speed winds during a sandstorm up-end gameplay and enhance the destruction still further. And depending on the console you play, everything runs without a hitch – for the most part. Yes, Square-Enix did promise an emphasis on smooth performance during development, but bearing in mind just how much of a battering frame-rate could take on Just Cause 3, and just how many times gamers have been let down by poor CPU performance from the current-gen Jaguars, it’s easy to be pessimistic about the sequel’s chances here, especially with the physics system pushed so hard.
Source: Eurogamer Just Cause 4 performance analysis: every console tested