We British love discussing the weather, and we love complaining about the weather, which is all a bit weird when you consider that our default weather tends to be "grey". I suppose that's why we get all excited when we hear it's going to be sunny, or there's snow on the way. Anything to break up the monotony.
"Oh good! Something new to complain about!"
Remember last summer's extended heatwave, and how we all lolled around like we were dying, and missed the greyness?
If you'd bought into the previews, you'd be under the impression that weather plays a big part in Just Cause 4, but we'll get to that in a moment.
First I want to apologise for this review being so late. Truth is, I couldn't quite work up the enthusiasm to write it. Not because Just Cause 4 is a bad game, but because I feel like I'd already reviewed it. At least I've actually played this one, unlike the latest Call of Duty, which remains shoved down the side of my bed, still in its shrink-wrap.
You see, for vast swathes of Just Cause 4 I felt I was playing Just Cause 3. And there were times when it could've been Just Cause 2. And adding to the sense of familiarity was that, if I squinted during certain sections, I could've been playing any one of a number of other open world destroy 'em ups.
However, just like an 100m athlete who has created a super-fast clone of himself that lacks a body from the neck down... I'm racing ahead.
Yes, you're right: that is a tortured metaphor. But hey - at least it's not raining, yet.
The Just Cause games, if you're unfamiliar with them, are usually set around some fictional South America country, with you - as glistening, Latino, alpha male Rico Rodriguez - leading a B-Movie revolution against Some Bad Dudes. Ultimately, what this boils down to is retaking the country area by area through completing missions, capturing enemy installations, and - new to Just Cause 4 - ordering your troops to advance across a needlessly complicated and confusing map.
The USPs of the Just Cause games are two-fold; aside from the usual array of weapons, and the ability to requisition any vehicle, Rico primarily makes his way around the map using a combination of a lewd strut (grappling hook) and a lecherous swagger (wing suit).
It's ludicrously unrealistic, but Just Cause has always been about over-the-top stunts taking precedent over, y'know, physics and that. Who cares about gravity, when Rico can deploy his grappling hook, and a number of special attachments (balloons, jet engines), to cause spectacular damage to his surroundings?
There are moments where it's a big pile of fun to tie two huge, inflammable, structures together, and watch as they're reeled closer together. Or fire a bunch of balloons at some vehicle that's pursuing you, and watch it be catapulted into the air. Or tie a speedboat to a helicopter.
But then, it was a lot of fun in Just Cause 3 as well, and there's not a great deal here - at least for much of the game - which can profess with confidence to be new
The big addition that Just Cause 4 brings to the series are those dynamic weather effects; the bad guys have control of the weather, and can unleash tomatoes (tornados), lightning, sandstorms and the like to make your job harder.
Unfortunately, while that might sound very exciting, a potential game-changer in fact, the weather missions are just brief moments in a game where the vast bulk of it is comprised of identikit mission types. Indeed, the variety is really what you'll be bringing to the table, and limited only by your willingness to experiment with the destructible environments and the gadgets at your disposal.
Sadly, there are few opportunities to use them in any sort of strategic fashion; as fun as it is to strap gas canisters to everything, or float baddies into the stratosphere, the chaotic nature of the firefights - sometimes fought while you're balanced atop a vehicle - means you'll be doing your experimenting while also trying not to be killed.
And even if death is a rare occurrence (Rich can absorb preposterous amounts of damage), too often an explosion will send you catapulting miles away from where you were just moments before.
So, it's chaos - indeed, the game awards you "chaos points" for causing chaos - but even in a sandbox you still want to be able to play with your toys. You don't always want some bigger kid coming in and start throwing water bombs and fireworks at you, or letting rip with a Dyson, while you're tying to build sandcastles.
So, for a lot of Just Cause 4, you'd be hard pressed to tell you're playing a different game from Just Cause 3. However, while these games have never offered the most beautiful virtual, open world, vistas, there was something bright and appealing about the location in the latter.
Unfortunately, while I appreciate the scale of the world, the dynamic destruction, the over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, nature of everything, there's no escaping that Just Cause 4 is a really ugly game.
I guess that's sort of the point - it's set on a war-torn island full of slums - but it made me appreciate the stunning views in Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Far Cry 5 all the more. I realised how those games - likely bigger-budgeted than Just Cause 4 admittedly - are as much a product of their production design as anything. Those sunsets and shadows and distant horizons may appear to be procedurally generated, whatever that means, but in reality it's all about positioning, an eye for beauty, and making the most of the technology.
If something like, say, Journey - which boasts a fraction of the budget of Just Cause 4 - can feel epic and breath-taking, then there's no excuse really. Unless that excuse is "We were all really drunk" - in which case... fair enough.
"Why were you drunk?"
Just Cause 4, perhaps in a way that's true to the nature of its gameplay, basically just dumps everything in the sandbox without a great deal of consideration towards aesthetics. Even the dynamic weather events - which you would've thought were the perfect way to show off - are a little underwhelming in this context.
There are moments where you can buy into the pandemonium, but for vast swathes it's not always chaotic in a good way. Throw in its reluctance to bring much in the way of new ideas to the series, and you have a disappointing, unsubtle, sequel.
SCORE: 521312.4444 out of 9999.918111