The basic gist of the story is that Rico Rodriguez, the hero from the original game, is back to stop an evil dictator named Baby Panay. Baby recently ascended to power on the southeast Asian island of Panau, and it's up to Rico to put the hurt on Panay and his army.
Panau is a 400-square-mile island, and while that's about the same size as the last game's island, the different regions made up of desert, tropical, mountains and swampy areas will keep things pretty fresh. The environment you'll be exploring also has a greater sense of verticality to it. The huge mountains and tall buildings scattered about are ripe for Rico to scale and use as platforms for floating around the world in his parachute.
The parachute can be used at any time, even at ground level. All you need is some speed (such as when you're driving) and the parachute will pop out at your command. You can use weapons while you're in the air, too.
Aside from the vehicles, freely floating in the air is a good way to make your way around the island. It's a great way to scope out the environment, and the draw distance allows you to see much of the island. Fun fact: it will take you about a half hour to just walk around the entire island! Why would you want to do that? Just cause.
This time around, the grappling hook plays a larger part in the gameplay. You can use it to give yourself some height and speed for your parachute. You can also use it to scale the environment, or as a "dick move" weapon. You can use the hook to pull enemies towards yourself, hang them from the ceiling, attach them together, and so much more. The hook also acts as a close-combat melee weapon. Thanks to the game's regenerative health and health pick-ups, you can probably play the entire game with just the hook as your weapon. While that would be fun at first, Just Cause 2 would get stale pretty fast.
In addition to the grappling hook, you'll be able to carry up to three guns with you at all times -- two single-handed guns and one large weapon. Single-handed weapons can be dual-wielded, and you can even mix and match guns (e.g., left hand pistol, right hand sub-machine gun). Grenades and C4 will be part of your arsenal of destruction as well.
Weapons can be upgraded, but you'll need to create some Chaos to earn unlocks. You always have a sub-mission to destroy the enemy's bases. As you create a ton of property damage, you earn Chaos points, which go toward unlocking weapons, vehicle parts and missions. The more damage you inflict on the enemy, the more attention you get on your Heat bar, and that attracts more enemies.
Everything about Just Cause 2 is about having a good time. The game doesn't take itself too seriously, and I had a blast with what I got to experience. You're swinging around like a monkey with wings as you punch baddies in the face with bullets and a hook. What's not to love about that?
The one thing I had issue with (as did Ben PerLee) was the ragdoll physics of the enemies. The game isn't taking itself seriously, but it's still off-putting seeing how much a body flips around when you shoot it with something as light as a pistol.
One a final note, Just Cause 2 offers the best way to kill an enemy ever. Grapple a bad guy to a propane tank, shoot the tank and then watch him fly all over the place. I'm looking forward to hooking a guy to a moving plane or vehicle in the future and hearing him scream.
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