E3 2009: The Five: Just Cause 2
The Run Through the Jungle: You're just a guy, with a gun, asking a beautiful jungle paradise to love him. Hero Rico Rodriguez returns in Just Cause 2, this time stuck on a tropical island in Southeast Asia where he's got to overthrow a dictator and bring his former boss to justice, using as many things that go "boom" as possible.
1. Like the first game, this takes place on a massive 1,000-sq. km island. But developer Avalanche Studios is promising much more stuff on the spot of land this time. Indeed, our demo showed denser tree cover, more variable landscape and a lot more big stuff to blow up.
2. The grappling hook was a highlight of the first game, and has been heavily tweaked for the sequel. Revamped, not neutered. You can still use it to grab hold of just about anything. But now there are two prongs to fire, so you can (for instance) fire a prong into each of two enemies, who'll then be connected, drive a car between them to hook the line, and pull the jerks into oblivion. Or just rope soldiers to trees. Or connect two cars and watch them flip. Oh Bionic Commando, you wish your grappling arm was this much fun.
3. No sandbox game would be complete without vehicle action. And indeed, you can steal boats, cars and helicopters. You can even grapple a car to the bottom of a helicopter and then use that as an improvised wrecking ball. But it's the vehicle stunts that distinguish the game. You can stand atop a car, firing at other autos, jump from car to car, and/or use the grappling hook to move between and attack vehicles.
4. Chaos is currency. By destroying targets you'll create Chaos, which unlocks additional missions. It's not quite as neat a system as the dynamic objectives in Brink, but just in case you need a reason to keep blowing stuff up, other than the fact that doing so should be fun, the Chaos system is your justification.
5. When you get down to it, Just Cause 2 is all about creating action movie set pieces on the fly. Base-jumping remains a big part of the game, and the parachute returns as well, though redesigned to act like an ultra-controllable stunt 'chute. Is it realistic? Hell, no. Is it awesome? Try base-jumping from 2,000 feet, opening the chute 200 feet above ground, swinging around in a 180-degree arc, then pulling yourself toward a target with the grappling hook before blasting it with a rocket and redeploying the chute to make a wildly implausible escape. Scratch "implausible" and write in "impossible." Physics and laws of reality don't apply here, and that's a very good thing.
The Crispy Forecast: Upbeat. Every few minutes during the demo I'd think, "Hey, this could be what Mercenaries 2 would have been if it were finished and/or didn't suck." What more do you need to know?
This preview is based on a developer-driven demo of the game at E3 2009.