''Just Cause'': Worth your cash?
(Eidos; PS2, XB, XB360, PC; Mature)
On the surface, Just Cause plays like yet another Grand Theft Auto clone, an open world in which a lone character uses his combat skills to reset the status quo, usually ending up as that locale's undisputed kingpin. But two things make this shooter unique: (1) the game's central premise, in which your (mostly violent) actions serve a greater purpose, and (2) the inventiveness that allows you to move around this world.
You play Rico Rodriguez, a government agent sent into a fictional South American country to help topple the corupt regime. Topple... with extreme prejudice. For a character ostensibly trained in covert ops, Rico is almost laughably unstealthy. For instance, you can deploy a parachute in certain high-speed or high-altitude situations, jump onto a moving vehicle, use its weapons to take out a target, and re-deploy the chute to sail away. Still, the stuntman-inspired moves are seamless and very cool. Too bad, then, that the developers have undermined these two elements with rather mediocre gameplay.
The concept of violence as a political tool suffers, perhaps inevitably, from clichéd characters and plot devices. There's not enough differentiation in the game's main missions and even with all that repetition, the primary single-player adventure can be completed in as little as six hours. There are many side missions, but unless you're an obsessive-compulsive completist, the lack of variety will keep you from finishing each and every one. Just 'cause you can buy Eidos' action-adventure game doesn't mean you should it's a weekend rental at best. C