Gamescom 2015: Just Cause 3 is like Saints Row on holiday (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

What was it?

A 30-minute hands-off gameplay demo followed by 30 minutes hands-on with four challenges.

What did we learn?

— Just Cause 3 looks beautiful, on PC at least.

— You can blow up pretty much anything with anything.

— Rico can be a complete and utter bastard with no ramifications.

— The grapple hook/squirrel suit/parachute combo works really nicely.

How was it?

Rico is flying through the air at impossible speeds in his squirrel suit. "This is fun", he says, in a voice as contextual as Bane’s voice in The Dark Knight Rises, the soothing Spanish guitar playing as he flies through a series of rings to attempt to achieve a high score equally juxtaposed. During the short gameplay presentation we are shown much of this sort of thing, as well as the myriad ways in which we’ll be able to wreak absolute destruction on a beautiful tropical island.

Art director Zach Schläppi points out that the main impetus for this game is to have fun amidst the chaos. Consequences don’t exist as such in this world; Rico can blow up his own men, alongside non-combatants such as villagers, with a helicopter’s rockets and they won’t even bat an eyelid. This is what it would be like playing Far Cry 3 as South Park’s Jesus.

Any vehicle picked up in the game and delivered to the safehouse garage can then be dropped to anywhere you find yourself in the world, provided you have enough open space for the crate to land. These supply drops land in giant steel crates, which explode with and greet you with falling confetti. Another touch to remind you that this is just a game to be gloriously stupid in.

Later the PR bod playing the demo, being the kind soul that he is, decides to kick an innocent farmer off of his tractor and ride it ever-so-slowly away from the scene of the incident and back to the garage. How exactly this will prove useful in guerilla warfare we’re not exactly sure, but it’s an indication of how much silly stuff you can do (and trouble you can cause). It’s not so much Just Cause and more ‘just ‘cos’.

Following the presentation, we get the chance to experience a couple of the game’s challenges: Destruction Frenzy and the Squirrel Suit challenge seen earlier, with two missions of each. Sadly, Destruction Frenzy looks to be areas completed in previous campaign missions, and as such were devoid of any enemy AI, with Rico tasked with destroying as many buildings as possible within an allotted time. They were fun at first, but the novelty quickly wore thin thanks to the lack of atmosphere. The destruction mode would have felt much more enjoyable had there been people to kill, as bad as that sounds. The squirrel suit descents, however, were much more fun.

Here, Rico must fly through rings in order to build up his score. The closer to the middle, the higher the score. There are multiple routes, with some offering potentially higher scores, but also bear greater risk. Picking the most effective route while also only making minor corrections on your flight path is key to getting a great score.

Your score in challenges earn rewards that can then net you upgrades for your gear, depending on the mission. For example, I managed to secure a five-star score in one of the squirrel suit descents (after a few dismal runs) and was told I was close to earning a speed-boost combo that could combine the suit with the grapple hook to maintain momentum.

There’s much more to Just Cause 3 than I was expecting. Getting a chance to see all the different tools Rico has at his disposal made me want to jump in and try them, and I was pleased to discover that each has its own learning curve. Some of the challenge modes may not have legs, but the main game looks fun and bonkers enough to keep me interested as it approaches its December launch.

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