In the deluge of E3 megaton reveals and massive franchise announcements, one particular gem has been somewhat overlooked: Avalanche Studios' Just Cause 2 is looking like a very exciting new game that's attracted little in the way of attention, although I note that Eurogamer published its own preview a few hours ago.
Avalanche isn't relying on flashy pre-rendered cinematics to sell its wares, instead it is letting the gameplay and the tech do the talking, culminating in this ten minute walkthrough of a couple of Just Cause 2's missions. We'll save the technical analysis on what we see here until "after the break", but in the meantime just sit back and watch the video, with developer commentary from lead game designer, and Gibson-interviewee, Peter Johansson. What I'm really impressed about here is not just the realisation of the open world itself and the beautiful physics, but how it is all at the disposal of the player, and just how much fun that looks like being. Particularly impressive is the ways and means in which you can utilitise the grapple gun; fun in Just Cause, but an absolute riot here.
The original video asset supplied by Eidos was pretty highly compressed (Quicktime HD is awful, especially with gameplay video), but we were able to discern native 720p resolution with 2x multi-sampling anti-aliasing in what is obviously the 360 build of the game. The physics and the explosion effects are highlights, and screen motion blur is complemented by a subtle object motion blur effect on top of that which adds nicely to the quality of the overall presentation. On the flip side, frame rate issues and screen tearing are evident, along with noticeable LOD popping effects.
Just Cause 2 isn't scheduled for release until early next year, and bearing in mind the Nordic studios' penchant for technical performance, I'm hopeful that the tech will catch up with the gameplay. As it is, if I'm understanding Johansson correctly in the closing moments of the video, Avalanche look set to continue the policy of letting the game do the talking with further videos of this ilk planned for release during the next six months of development, and I'll be following these eagerly.
Note: Six hours on a 2.5GHz Core 2 laptop and the HD version of the vid has encoded (no point doing crappy encodes in my opinion). Then another 90 minutes to upload it via the archaic ADSL connection I was using. Go for it. Make it all worthwhile, please.