Just Cause 4 - Pure unadulterated fun - and lots of oomph!
Just Cause 4 (PlayStation 4/Xbox One/Microsoft Windows), 8/10
It's fun to entertain the fantasy that Avalanche Studios' boardroom is chock-full of ambitious young developers whose ideas for dazzling gameplay mechanics and engaging storylines fall on the deaf ears of the moustachioed cigar-toting authority figure who pushes back each and every proposition with the same four words: "we need more oomph".
And oomph indeed. Just Cause 4 carries on in much the same way as its explosive predecessor. Guns, grapples, rocket boosters, wingsuits, tornadoes - Just Cause 4 feels like it was created by a Michael Bay unhindered by whatever team of people is employed to lend restraint to his heavy-handed thrasing about in the world of cinema.
Everything except the rather impressive game and physics engines in Just Cause 4 feels like an afterthought. The main antagonist? Oh just another Latin aggressor of questionable origins. The environment? Well 'vaguely South American tropics' worked well the last time so let's just go with that again.
The similarities are endless and would almost laughable if it were not for one key factor - Just Cause games were never about anything other than blowing stuff up in a massive sandbox. The developer's know this well. Everything superfluous to this one key requirement has been tapered to an almost inconsequential point. Who needs anything but a bare-bones story when all the players are going to remember is the time they grappled themselves to a cruise missile and shot off towards the sunset?
One of the most commendable things about Just Cause 4 is how much of the 'busy work' has been shorn away. Each settlement now has a rotation of missions that must be completed in order to capture the location for the rebel forces. Just Cause 3's endless cycle of tearing down objects of propaganda was so repetitive that it seriously detracted from the fun of the game.
Better yet, the enemy will not try to recapture territories that you have taken, removing that ever-present element of tedious busy work that plagues many otherwise passable titles such as Fallout 4 and the FarCry series. What's not to like? Just Cause 4 is not novel in any way but it certainly captures the spirit of video-gaming. Pure, unadulterated fun in the name of nothing at all.