By now the "Go anywhere, do anything" adage in gaming has lost the oomph it once possessed. These days we expect that in an open-world videogame. It's a claim that's no longer impressive.
Yes, those things are true in Just Cause 3, but the game doesn't lead with that empty promise. Instead, what it does offer is a sandbox chaos simulator where your path to destruction can take various routes -- land, sea or air. Nearly anything can be driven, flown, killed and, most of the time, exploded.
So why are you blowing things up in Just Cause 3? Because an awful dictator has taken rule of your homeland -- the island of Medici -- and you're not about to let your neighborhood go to hell as long as there's something you can do about it.
You are Rico Rodriguez, an experienced soldier acrobat who laughs in the face of danger and has no problem mowing down hordes of enemies. Rico is also nearly invisible -- it takes a shocking amount of firepower to take him down.
Narratively speaking, Just Cause 3 mostly underwhelms save for a few chuckles here and there. A couple of the game's characters have some likable tendencies; I was partial to Dima, a scientist who helps Rico with the technology he uses to take down the occupying militia. Her emotionless, stoic delivery is oddly charming and makes for the occasionally endearing cut scene. But on the whole, you won't miss much but skipping ahead.
The game's developer, Avalanche Studios, has pushed the franchise to its empirical limit with the third installation. Just Cause 3 may lack the polish of other triple-A open-world games, but that's mostly overshadowed by how much fun it is to make things go boom.
That's what Just Cause 3 does so well. It forces the player to just let go and have fun. Headlining that ethos is an endlessly enjoyable parachute and wingsuit combination that essentially gives your character the ability to fly or glide through the entire playable island.
Traversing the island this way is usually the best way to get around if fast-traveling isn't ready or a jet isn't readily available. Driving around is also option, but I found it to be among the least compelling features of the game. Jumping out of a helicopter and gliding over a cliff and then down through a gorge never gets old. Best of all, the game's controls are intuitive and feel just the way you'd want them to.
Just Cause 3 is set up like a lot of open-world games you might have played before. When you start, the entire map is under General Di Ravello's rule. You'll discover settlements and bases along your way and liberate them -- mostly by destroying stuff.
A lot of the liberating that Rico does includes killing massive amounts of soldiers and at times innocent bystanders. The game is obviously over-the-top and does a good job and making that known from the start. Rico is told early on by his best friend Mario "whatever you destroy, we will rebuild," essentially giving him a blank check on all the inevitable collateral damage.