Here’s a fun fact, until a couple of weeks ago I have never played a Just Cause game so take this with a pinch of salt from the viewpoint of a newcomer. It’s a series I’ve always respected due to its sheer expansiveness and tongue in cheek, over the top action that would even make Michael Bay himself blush, but why have I never picked one up? Well, just cause! (apologies for snapping up that low hanging fruit). But the instant I loaded up Just cause 4 I was instantly taken aback by its incredibly profound visuals, its size, the impressive amount of ways in which to traverse the fictional South American country of Solis, and its guerrilla warfare, open world façade that made me reminiscent of GTA and Phantom Pain but with all these high points come the lows of some structural weakness, some bland characters and a few copy and paste missions.

Just Cause 4 puts us back in the combat boots of series protagonist Rico Rodriguez, who finds himself in the fictional country of Solis, home to some weirdly diverse weather and climates, and taking on the Black Hand, the worlds most deadly private army, a group which his late father supposedly worked for. In order to take down this army, Rico must build an army of his own, in hopes of finding answers and stopping ‘Project Illapa’. An uncomplicated plot that to be perfectly honest, suits the genre that Just Cause has been pigeonholed into since its inception, it’s not necessarily a bad thing but in the same breath JC4’s story isn’t one that gripped me instantly, it wasn’t until a couple of hours later until I got into the swing of things.

Much to the dev team at Avalanche Studio’s credit, Just Cause is one of the best looking games I’ve seen over the past few months. Not only is Solis a massive land that you can up huge chunks of time simply exploring and taking in the gorgeous landscapes and the variety of the lush rainforest, rainforest, shanty towns, cities and crystal blue waters, and though the environments are absolutely breath-taking the same can’t be said for the Characters and NPC’s which at some points seem out of place in a way. Throughout my journeys, I would often find character models with some less than stable AI with some of my recruits running into walls and generally have delayed reactions, not to mention the pull string phrases your recruits blart out seemingly at will. This also goes for the huge assortment of vehicles that can be commandeered during the game, though it is an absolute thrill to speed down the streets in your cars and motorcycles and sore the skies in planes and helicopters to really take in the breadth of the world that has been created there were times I experienced frame rate drops, Rico getting glitched into a vehicle and even the game freezing altogether.

These shortcomings bounce back in a big way though, thanks to Just Cause 4’s awesome gameplay and the number of ways in which you play it. Though it is a little heavy on the tutorials throughout, they are necessary as there is a lot to take in at the end of the day. There are a number of things that work for Just Cause 4 mechanically, as I mentioned earlier there are so many different vehicles to make your way around but diving out of a jet at thousands of feet in the air and making your way through the skies using your wingsuit and safely making your way to the ground with your parachute while laying bullets into the unsuspecting militia below is what dreams are made of in the sandbox action genre. Rico’s grappling hook along with its many different functions is a great way to make your way around quickly on foot (just spam the hell out of it you’ll get where you need to go). Much like previous titles, your arsenal is pretty expansive. With machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns RPG’s and grenade launchers are all great to bring the mayhem and fill your chaos meter which will intrigue more people into joining your army as you make your way around making everything explode like some kind of Die Hard wet dream.

Very little of the game’s main story is at your disposal in the opening hours leaving you time to explore JC4’s many side missions which will provide you with more weapons and vehicles available to be dropped into the battlefield as you see fit which in my opinion is a good touch as it stops you from focusing all your efforts on the main quest and missing out on all the things on offer (bad news for speed runners but I’m sure they’ll a way, the crafty buggers). In order to progress through the main story you have t meet certain criteria by completing certain missions and have your army reclaim the many different regions of the map in which the quests take place in, which gives this title such a great feel of actual guerrilla warfare. The people you meet through these side missions range from devilishly drab – Sargento, the young rebel, the annoyingly in your face – Garland King and your partner in crime, Mira who is equal parts badass and sassiness (a badsass if you will). The only downside that stands out significantly to me is the repetition of goals in your mission; ARRIVE, RAISE HELL, LEAVE, REPEAT.