Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Avalanche Studios thinks big. Their namesake engine isn’t concerned with making things pretty, although it’s no slouch in that area either, but its main goal is to spit out gargantuan worlds, filled with life and substance, bristling with realistic trees and submerged in yawning oceans.

Take Just Cause 2, one of the studio’s slew of upcoming games which features an immeasurable mass of land, hundreds of vehicles, different terrains and settlements, cities and villages. Just Cause 2’s lead designer, Peter Johansson, explained that “something we worked a lot with getting right with Just Cause 2 is creating a world that is filled with stuff to do; that’s probably the most important thing, the element we worked hardest on getting to work”.

But alongside Just Cause 2, the Stockholm based developers are hard at work on multiple titles, each offering massive worlds, free-roaming exploration and unstructured freedom. “The games we’ve talked about so far have used our engine to create very big worlds, and if we do this big world, we should give the player a lot of freedom to play around with his environment, and get a lot of content in there”.

Just Cause 2

Just Cause launched on Xbox 360, PC and last generation consoles to little fanfare in 2006. At the recent Eidos preview event I was the only card carrying Just Cause fanatic; most of the other journalists hadn’t even played it, let alone grabbed all 1000 Gamerscore.

Since the original’s debut however, the Playstation 3 has entered the space, developers are more comfortable with Xbox 360 tech and last generation development is off the cards. “That’s helped a lot, not being held back by last generation consoles,” explains Johansson, “we have developed the engine a lot, since Just Cause 1, with different climate zones, a lot more interactivity and destructibility in the game”. During the demonstration, technical jargon easily impressed, including “about four times the terrain resolution in terms of polygons, and a huge amount of smaller, subtle details that makes it look so much better”.

But also during the three year gap, the consoles have exploded with free-roaming games and sandbox experiences. As Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto fight for turf in the urban space, Just Cause sees a worthy adversary in Mercenaries 2; sharing elements of Pandemic’s destructible world, luscious jungle and penchant for brazen lunacy.

“We’re not really comparing ourselves to many of those titles, because JC offers such a unique experience in itself” clarifies Johansson. “It’s important for each game in this free roaming genre to find its own identity”.

So what is Just Cause’s identity? “The game is all about these crazy stunts and a lot of freedom”. Just Cause was lauded for its madcap antics and unbelievable stunts, but as Johansson explains, the series has no plans for moderation or sobriety, “Just Cause 2 is definitely more insane”! The final act of our demonstration was shockingly punctuated by smoke-bombing, katana wielding enemies, as I scribbled “Ninjas?!” in my notebook. Without a moment to exhale an atomic submarine crashes through the ice and Rico gives chase. “It’s all about having loads of fun and a really good time”, he describes, as if the team nonchalantly throw any idea into production to see what sticks.

Just Cause 2

This time round, the game takes place on the tropical island of Panau, a fictionalised collage of Hawaii and New Zealand. Tracking down his rogue former-mentor, protagonist Rico Rodriguez is back to ruffle up unstable factions, steal every vehicle in sight and base jump off ridiculously high mountains.

The game is centred on chaos and mayhem, doling out points and progressing the game through unadulterated destruction, murder and demolition. Vehicles and weaponry are more potent tools of annihilation than ever with fighter jets, attack helicopters, rocket launchers, grenade launchers and satchel charges.

While the first game collapsed into repetition, Johansson is certain that the sequel won’t endure the same fate. “That’s what we’ve done with this chaos system; instead of separate boring and repetitive side missions, you can cause this mayhem in any way you want”. That’s not to say the game lacks structure and direction, there is an enormous number of key missions, faction based assignments, races, stunt challenges, colonel assassinations, hostage rescues and stronghold takeovers, “but if you just cause chaos, you will provoke reactions in the game world, and work towards achieving your goals”.

“We have three rogue factions, and when you enter the game world it’s a pressure cooker ready to explode”. With the chaos caused by toppling buildings and killing gang members, Rico pushes and prods the factions for a reaction, or works with them “not because he likes them, but because it gives him new opportunities to cause mayhem and reach his agenda”.

“In Just Cause 2 if you can see something interesting, you can be sure that you can get there, and when you do, there will be something meaningful to do there”. The game’s map screen is a testament to the team’s work, where the island’s cartography can hardly be seen behind the fog of challenges, settlements, military bases and places of interest. “All the different settlements that you can visit are just playgrounds for to cause chaos in, and every location has something of value in”; the world is littered with collectibles which, with the help of a handy radar, will let you upgrade your vehicles, weapons and armour.

Just Cause

Just Cause 2 is looking to be an incredible game, surpassing the first by leaps and bounds. The Avalanche engine spits out icy mountain tops and vast deserts, while the game’s designers present opportunities for destruction and fun. Rico’s grappling hook, for example, can be used to tether a helpless goon to the back of a jeep, or to create a wrecking ball with a car and a helicopter: absolute chaos is ensured.

“We have at least one secret project,” finished Johansson, “we have a lot of things in the works at Avalanche”.

With multiple open world games in production, a massively capable engine and all this for a studio open for a scant six years, Avalanche is thinking a lot bigger than most developers.

Special thanks to Avalanche Studio’s Peter Johansson for sitting down with Ready-Up, and Eidos for the fantastic event, which produced coverage of Mini Ninjas and Batman: Arkham Aslyum.







5 responses to “Just Cause 2”

  1. waxc3 avatar

    great news here. thank you! 🙂
    i loved the first game and got every achievement except for the race ones (as racing is so been-there-done-that).
    i knew i wanted this game and now my psych meter is peaked.

  2. Jonah A McDoogl avatar
    Jonah A McDoogl

    I’m really looking forward to this game. I thought the first game was terrible but hopefully the developers have learnt from their mistakes.

    I would love to see a multiplayer element to the game.

  3. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I enjoyed the first game also, but found it a bit repetitive when trying to liberate the different provinces and then a few of the other side missions. Hopefully we get to do a few more base jumps from high up. The jumpo of the mountain in the first game was excellent.

    I always remember flying around the island in the little nellie helicopter and the world looked beautiful with a bit of elevation. The trees decorating the sides of the mountains looked excellent and so green. A richly colored vista.

    I’ve been waiting for this since it was rumoured to be coming. Looking forward to it.

  4. waxc3 avatar

    the first game was great! come on, after playing mercs2 and far cry 2 a year after just cause, just cause was still all around better.

    sounds like what they need to balance and rid you guys of the repetition is… what? make the game shorter? there are only so many things one can do in an open world game.
    feel free to invent new modes and tasks though! 🙂

  5. Lorna avatar

    This looks beautiful. I’ve never ventured into playing just Cause but perhaps I should rethink that…

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