Columns & Blogs

Chaos reigns and makes ‘Just Cause 2’ fun

A number of games have come out in recent years in which creating chaos is an option.

“Mercenaries 2” and “The Saboteur” — both released by EA’s Pandemic Studios — come to mind.

But in “Just Cause 2,” chaos is quantifiable.

The game — developed by Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive — measures chaos created and, in turn, uses the mayhem to unlock missions, weapons and vehicles. Previous games have used destruction to earn money or items for the player, but I can’t remember another one using destruction as a means for game progression.

That is just one of a few reasons “Just Cause 2,” which is available now for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows, is different from most other action-adventure games. Its biggest difference is that it’s much more fun than the original “Just Cause.”

The original game, which came out in 2006, was little more than a bad sandbox action game with one unique twist: The game’s protagonist could use a grappling hook to attach himself to vehicles and objects throughout the world. Combined with the use of a parachute, the grappling ability gave the game some promise despite a forgettable plot and plenty of bugs that affected gameplay.

As with the aforementioned “Mercenaries 2,” the developers took a good idea and fine-tuned it with a sequel.

Protagonist Rico Rodriguez returns, with the game taking place on the fictional island of Panau in the Pacific.

Rodriguez is there to overthrow a dictator and along the way track down a rogue U.S. government agent.

The sequel’s plot and story run smoothly, but again the highlights are the freeplay elements and the experimentation with the grappling hook.

I spent a ton of time finding different ways to grapple to vehicles, swinging from car to helicopter to jet to motorcycle in one sequence. Rodriguez also has unlimited use of parachutes, making it easy to jump on a motorcycle, pull the parachute and glide until he is close enough to grapple onto something else.

Shooting weapons can be unreliable, so using the grappling hook to get around during a skirmish became second nature.

The developers included a wide diversity of vehicles in the game. You can operate everything from commercial jets to fighter jets to hovercrafts to a hand full of helicopters to sports cars fitted with mounted guns and rockets.

Despite it improving substantially on the original, “Just Cause 2” isn’t a great game. I went through stretches early in the game where it seemed to take forever to unlock new missions, and some shaky cameras can make some missions unnecessarily difficult.

But the game was plenty of fun, and it was well worth the time spent playing it.