CHEATING DEATH Just Cause: Not your everyday GTA knockoff

Gamener Game Preview
PUBLISHER: Eidos Interactive DEVELOPER: Avalanche Studios GENRE: Action-adventure RELEASE DATE: September 2006

PREVIEW game review
ANYTIME SOMEONE COMPARES A
game to Grand Theft Auto, it conjures up images of clunky, half-assed third-person action games that go for the quick and desperate buck by catering to the lowest common
denominator (developers, apparently, maintain akeen awareness that the weekend stoner crowd doesn’t devote too many brain cycles to selective shopping while browsing the shelves at the local EB). But indulge us a moment as we make
this very same comparison about Just Cause—a
game that, unlike the Total Overdoses and Driver
3s (pardon us, “DRIV3Rs”) of the world, looks
like it just might provide substantial entertainment
value in lieu of mindless, derivative drivel.
Developer Avalanche Studios spent the last
three years creating and polishing this game
(allegedly due this fall), which puts you
into the shoes of Rico Rodriguez,
a Latin superspy who specializes
in counterrevolution. His
latest assignment takes him
to the spacious tropical
island of San Esperito,
the backdrop for Just
Cause. Think of Rico in a James-Bond-asportrayed- by-Antonio- Banderas light—a man who makes the impossible look anything but. “You can do pretty much do anything you want,” says Avalanche creative director Christofer Sundberg, speaking about the game’s vehicle- and environmentbased feats. “Skydive from a plane or helicopter, BASE jump from a cliff or tower, paraglide over the beautiful oceans or the cities, jump between cars and hijack them…or between aircraft, kicking out the pilot midair.”

EVEL KNIEVEL
These sorts of stunts form the backbone of Just Cause’s action, effectively separating it from everyday GTA-inspired hack jobs. Rico’s death-defying exploits provide a tangible sense of gratifi cation and tense excitement, especially since it ostensibly takes but mere moments to grasp all but the most complex. “Some stunts require certain skills to perform,” Sundberg points out, “like jumping between cars is something you’ll have to practice. [But] it pays off, as some cars are more diffi cult than others to [commandeer].” Also worth noting: the game’s world (“very varied and complex, with an area of 1,024 square kilometers,” says Sundberg), which exhibits the expected abundance of freeroaming action-adventure trappings—missions to complete, places to explore, and side quests to discover. Even with a few obvious…“tributes”…to GTA in place (San Andreas déjà vu: “It makes no difference if you destroy a coca field by using a box of matches or a jumbo jet to burn it,” Sundberg explains), our gut says Just Cause isn’t just another prototypical cash-in. One more eye toward quality: Expect lots the PC version to match its Xbox 360 counterpart for visual oomph. Just Cause remains an inexplicably low-key game in the enthusiast press and otherwise—but if you ask us, it stands a fair chance of surpassing the myriad copycats its genre cultivates. And for that, we salute it.

THINK OF RICO IN A JAMES-BONDAS- PORTRAYED-BY-ANTONIOBANDERAS LIGHT—A MAN WHO MAKES THE IMPOSSIBLE LOOK ANYTHING BUT.

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