Just Cause 2
Every so often, a game comes along that shatters the status quo. A game that challenges norms, rewrites the rules, and does a bunch of other things that can only be explained with cliches that don't really mean anything. Just Cause 2 doesn't do any of that. Instead, it attaches a propane tank to a man's chest and shoots it, sending him flying through the air. It jumps off a helicopter onto another helicopter and hijacks it. It rides atop a 757 at 3,000 feet in the air, and then jumps off, falls for a few minutes, and lands safely after pulling the cord for the parachute a few feet from the ground. That's what Just Cause 2 does, and what it does, it does well.
The original Just Cause was slightly less than a mediocre game. It had some interesting mechanics, but that's about where any interest for the game ended. The over-the-top nature wasn't really embraced, never really brought to fruition. With the sequel, a sequel no one thought was needed, Avalanche Studios has done the impossible. They've taken a formula that was, at its core, inherently flawed, and successfully enhanced it. Just Cause 2, a game no one wanted to care about, bursts onto the scene as one of the most enjoyable open-world games ever made, and that's stacking it up against the likes of Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Faction: Guerrilla, and even inFamous. That's not to say it's better than any of those games, since it's absolutely not, but it's as much, if not more, fun. There's a difference between a game being "good" and a game being "fun," after all.
Players once again assume the role of Agency Agent Rico Rodriguez, who is dropped into the Southeast Asian island nation of Panau. His mission is to track down and assassinate Tom Sheldon, an agent that has gone rogue while trying to undermine the island's government, in order to overthrow its leader, Baby Panay. Sheldon's mission, too, becomes his, and he lands on Panau with a number of important missions in mind. While the story sounds strikingly similar to Heart of Darkness, it's actually much, much more simple. Also, it's pretty bad. The game's narrative isn't very interesting, something made worse by some of the worst dialogue and scripting in recent game history. It feels as though it's attempting to be tongue-in-cheek, trying to match the game's over-the-top nature to the story, but it misses the mark. After a few hours I found myself skipping cutscenes, something I never do when reviewing a game, because I found it was more enjoyable to go into missions blind than to sit through the trite dialogue.