In a nutshell: Grand Theft Auto might give you the freedom of a whole city or county but in Just Cause youve got the task of overthrowing a 250,000 acre island all on your lonesome in the worlds first Che Guevara simulator.
The lowdown: Taking inspiration not just from Grand Theft Auto but also Mercenaries and old Amiga classic Midwinter you play CIA black ops agent Rico Rodriguez as he attempts to overthrow the evil dictator of the fictional island of San Esperito. Despite the huge island and the complete freedom of movement you have on it the game actually only has 21 story missions. There are over 300 side missions but it quickly becomes obvious that these fall into only a very small number of different styles, not all of which are all that entertaining. What makes the game fun though is just wandering off and doing your own thing, which invariably involves upsetting the local military or drug lords and instigating a massive, impromptu firefight. The game may lack depth and variety but it offers a freedom to explore and cause chaos that few others can rival.
Most exciting moment: As impractical as it may seem youve always got a grappling hook and a parachute, which allows you to lock onto any vehicle and commandeer it whenever you want. It also lets you perform some utterly outrageous stunts as you parasail behind boats and jump from a moving aircraft straight onto a road convoy miles below you.
Since you ask: Instead of storing the island of San Esperito as a gigantic map the game uses a new technique called procedural synthesis to create the landscape on the fly. This is the only way to make such large scale graphics work on the PS2, especially when youre flying miles above the island.
The bottom line: Che Guevara meets James Bond in this shallow but satisfying sandbox game. HARRISON DENT
In Just Cause, you take on the role of the flamboyant Rico Rodriguez - an undercover CIA operative specialising in regime change - as he tries to overthrow the corrupt government of San Esperito. This rogue South American island is suspected of stockpiling WMDs and it's your job to negate the threat to world peace. It could be to your advantage that this tropical paradise is about to implode as various factions vie for power - it just needs a gentle nudge in the right direction.
Just Cause offers the freedom to tackle your assignment however you want: play the island's factions off against one another; incite a rebellion among the masses; or build alliances with rebel forces and drug cartels. The incredibly detailed game world consists of 1,225 sq. miles of mountains, jungles, beaches, cities and villages which can be explored by land, sea and air. And you will have at your disposal one of the most varied and exciting array of vehicles, planes and watercraft ever seen in a video game.