Wednesday 16 October 2019

Just Cause 4 review: Grappling with physics

  • Just Cause 4 (PS4/XO/PC) *** Age: 18+
Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4
Arca's Path
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Choas is the currency of the Just Cause series, an amusing open-world sandbox that gets more outrageous with mercenary Rico Rodriguez's every outing. JC4 ups the ante in several entertaining ways, including a devastating weather system. But it never addresses the underlying weaknesses of Rico's rampages in South American dictatorships.

It simply takes the formula - badass merc with a potent combo of grappling arm, parachute and wingsuit - and multiplies its chaotic possibilities with new extensions to the devastating power of the grapple. In addition to tethering objects together (enemy soldier to exploding canister is always a good one), Rico can now in JC4 airlift almost anything or attach something to a rocket.

These trial-and-error equations (for instance, balloons plus tank equals makeshift bomb when dropped) almost always prove hilarious. Sometimes, though, events get so chaotic you even can't tell if it's something you deliberately did or whether the enemy AI got overzealous and blew itself up.

Elsewhere, too, the combat feels wonky (not quite as dreadful as Fallout 76 but nowhere near how a good shooter should) and the mission structure rooted in repetition.

If you treat JC4 as a giant physics experiment rather than focusing on its narrative and gunplay shortcomings, it turns into a playground to be explored (and exploded). But five minutes after switching it off, you'd be hard-pressed to remember anything in the chaos.

Arca’s Path

(PSVR/PC) ****

Age: 12+

Arca's Path

Use your head. Never has an instruction had such literal meaning in this engaging VR take on venerable classic Marble Madness. Moving your noggin guides a ball down abstract, fantastical structures, full of curving chutes and thin paths suspended in mid-air.

It's enough to make you hold your breath as you inch along a vertiginous ramp or ease past a chasm in the floor merely by looking slightly ahead of your sphere. For a relaxing puzzle game, it often gets the blood pumping.

Arca's Path succumbs to duplicating the same old tricks as it nears the end of its short running time, but it's a captivating use of a novel control system that simultaneously calms and excites.

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