Whether or not Just Cause 2 protagonist Rico Rodriguez succeeds in tearing down the political machine of Pandak "Baby" Panay, who rules the fictional island nation of Panau with a clunking fist and silly name, he will at least succeed in one regard. The most conspicuous CIA agent since the agency's short-lived and ill-fated spell under the control of Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar, Rico will have built an anecdote machine to rival any other.
In Just Cause 2, Rico needs to cause "chaos" to unlock story missions, but that's about the extent of his and your commitment to the individual icons strewn across the enormous world-map, so in theory everything is avoidable. In practice though, playing through the first five hours of a final build of the game, everything is unavoidable. And everything is full of stories.
For example, you may be flying Rico to a carefully selected waypoint, expertly piloting a chopper over the windswept trees that carpet the summery peaks of one of Panau's whopping mountains, when out of the corner of your eye you spot a perfect replica of the terrorist installation hidden under a Cuban lake at the end of GoldenEye. It really is uncanny: a massive concrete basin with satellite equipment suspended above the centre point by enormous steel cables.
Naturally you land to investigate. Guards emerge and you begin shooting them. Whatever the installation is for isn't readily advertised, however, so having killed everyone, climbed all over the machinery and fired a few inquisitive bullets at the locked metal hatch in the centre of the bowl, you decide to get back on with your mission. Presumably you'll find out more about GoldenEye later.
You call up the island's resident black marketeer, who drops a jet-powered aeroplane next to you. But the jet won't reverse, and is pointing in an unhelpful direction, so you end up wedging it against some rocks. That jet cost $30,000, so it would be a shame to discard it. Fortunately there's a flatbed truck nearby, so you grab that and use your excellent and much-hyped double-ended grappling hook to tie the plane to the truck. You then pull the plane clear of the rocks and leap back into it. Victory.
Then you forget you're still tied to the truck, and instead of taking off and flying into the sunset you slingshot yourself into a nearby tree and explode.
This sort of thing doesn't just happen occasionally in Just Cause 2 - it happens all the time, and sometimes it's brilliant. When you're first asked to take out a rocket tower part-buried in a deep shaft, you discover that the shaft is crisscrossed all the way down by head-splitting metal gantries that may preclude the use of your trusty parachute. A couple of failed base jumps later, you impatiently accelerate your motorbike - provided at the start of the mission - a bit further than intended, and end up flying it down the shaft at just the right angle to avoid the obstacles.
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