City 16's Top 10 Games of 2010: #8

2010 was the year the British learned our penchant for unfairly complaining about the state of services in the country was no longer the safe activity we had previously imagined. It was also the year we learned that any pretense of our legal system being able to use any modicum of common sense could no longer be sustained.

Could those two events be linked? Who knows. All I can tell you is that damn well better be sure you don’t threaten to blow up an airport.

Which could be a problem, because my 8th favourite game of the year was:

Just Cause 2

I’ve posted about my feelings on open-world games before. To recap, I like them to fall into one of two categories. Firstly there are those that cast you as a character. These games ask you to take on the mindset of this person and experience the world through their eyes. Essentially an RPG without all the levelling and stats business. Assassin’s Creed would be a good example, as would another game due to appear on this list. The other type casts you in a playground. They arm you with the tools and weapons and set you loose on their world to enjoy. If they’re being really good they’ll do their best to keep distractions like characterisation and plot out of your way. This is the category Just Cause 2 falls into.

I first fell in love with Just Cause 2 at a specific point in the game’s demo. Up until that point it had been making all the right noises; offering seemingly endless scope for travel and destruction and just plain messing around. It wasn’t until discovering that certain explosive barrels would, when shot, rocket vertically into the sky before exploding and that not only could you tether enemies to this insane firework of death but could yourself grapple onto it that the game planted itself firmly at the top of my wishlist.

On release, after the initial disappointment of the game’s opening – a tedious enforced tutorial – me and my friends quickly settled into a rythym of pass-the-controller shared violence and destruction. After a couple of weeks passed by like this the game provided us with a shocking statistic: 18 Hours Played. We’d only done the bare-minimum of missions required to unlock helicopter extraction, spending the rest of the time either discovering new locations and, inevitable, blowing them up or just stealing new planes, cars, helicopters and boats to try… before, inevitably, blowing them up.

This was the sweet spot. After a while – and after I’d actually made some progress into the game proper – things began to wind down. The game increases difficulty by sending more army troops after you, to the point where the amount of soldiers and helicopters trying to bring you down leads, invariably, to either your death or a giant Benny Hill chase around whichever of the many islands you find yourself on. It totally disrupts the flow and creativity allowed by the early game’s meagre forces. Perhaps worse comes after you ‘complete’ the game. The cheerful update every time you blew something up that informed you of how much Chaos you’d caused became a cold percentage slowly counting up to 100%… Very, very slowly 0.01% at a time. It was demoralising – destruction had become a chore.

And there it would have ended, except…

Months later I noticed the PC version on sale and, having heard of the mods available for the game, decided to pick it up. It turned out that, yes, the mods were brilliant. Just Cause 2 was back and better than ever.

The best of these mods – actually a trainer – is BOLOpatch (not supported as of the game’s last update, but can be made to work with some tweaking). The infinite health means that a level 3 wanted rating is no longer an annoyance, but that’s not the essential part. It’s the option to make the game’s tether unbreakable that really changes how the game plays. It means destructive sprees are no longer simply reactive – you can plan increasingly impressive stunts just to see if they can be done, and usually they can. Attaching a car to a plane, plastering it with C4, letting the plane fly it over an army base and then unattaching it, riding it down like Slim Pickens in Dr Strangelove? Oh yes.

So while Just Cause 2 might not be a great game, with the right mods in place it’s, to date, the ultimate playground.


1 Response to “City 16's Top 10 Games of 2010: #8”

  1. 1 Bill Clinton
    19/12/2010 at 01:07

    This sounds like the type of game i may be into i may invest it seems like the type of game that you could spend 6 hours straight playing although that would be madness and im a very busy man.

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