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Just Cause 4: 4 things you need to know before you buy it

Avalanche's latest open-world adventure is their craziest yet

What do you get when you mix explosives, a grappling gun and a few hot air balloons?

Well, in Just Cause 4 you can find out.

Set in the South American country of Solìs, you once again play rugged hero Rico Rodriguez who’s tasked with freeing its people from a vicious dictator.

Just Cause 4 is powered by the Apex Engine

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Just Cause 4 is powered by the Apex Engine

The Just Cause games have never really been about narrative. 

No matter, as Avalanche’s wacky open-world series has always pushed the boundaries when it comes to OTT action.

But with the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-Man, Hitman 2 and other huge games vying for your attention this festive period, is Just Cause 4 worth a punt?

Let’s take a closer look.

Graphics

The jewel in Just Cause’s crown has always been its OTT physics system – and thankfully the latest game doesn’t disappoint.

This is down to a new version of Avalanche’s Apex engine – which also allows for diverse weather such as as blizzards sandstorms, tornadoes and more.

The world may not boast the detail of Red Dead but it’s still very impressive

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The world may not boast the detail of Red Dead but it’s still very impressive

Solìs looks absolutely stunning – with everything from humid rain forests, snowy alpine mountains and dusty hills rendered to perfection (more on this later).

Add to the mix beautiful effects for explosions, bullets and smoke and you’ve got one of the best looking games of the year.

The world 

Solìs is much more diverse and dynamic than its predecessor – with different areas boasting individual micro-climates.

At 1024 km^2, it’s roughly the same size as Just Cause 2.  To put that in to perspective, Red Dead 2’s map is estimated to be around 29 square miles.

The massive world is open to explore from the start but to take control of a region you’ll need to complete specific missions to call in squads of revolutionaries.

The huge map is open to explore from the start of the game

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The huge map is open to explore from the start of the game

There are plenty of ways to get around. Rico can glide through the air using well-timed sequences of grapple-hooking, parachuting and wingsuiting, or he hijack a number of cars, planes, boats and helicopters.

Gameplay

The main attraction of Just Cause is the freedom offered to the player when it comes to causing mayhem.

Want to tether a helicopter to a car and then blow them both up? That’s no problem.

The upgrade system has been largely replaced, with many of Rico’s previously unlockable abilities available from the off.

Explosions have been rendered to perfection

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Explosions have been rendered to perfection

Missions mostly focus on liberating certain areas of the map but there are some standout set-pieces, which act as a showcase for the game’s impressive weather systems.

These see you drive across the desert mid-sandstorm or chase tornadoes – which leave trails of devastation in their wake.

It’s single player

Now here’s the kicker – there’s no multiplayer, which seems a huge shame.

Given the impressive world, it would be perfect for Battle Royale or even co-operative modes.

Tornadoes are just one of the impressive weather effects on show

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Tornadoes are just one of the impressive weather effects on show

It’s actually one of the most wanted features fans want added to the series, so much so that in Just Cause 3, a dedicated team of gamers created a Just Cause 3 multiplayer mod to fill the void.

Square Enix has promised plenty of DLC, though – which will arrive in the form of three packs.

The first will focus on racing, the second will take a turn to the supernatural and the third will focus on new weapons and technology

Just Cause 4 is out on December 4 on Xbox, PS4 and PC.