For a game with such a focus on combat this aspect feels rather weak. Enemies go down without the need for much skill, and you can often survive enemy onslaughts by simply continuously running, with the AI not being able to hit you unless they get in close. Driving AI is far more effective at halting you, but not in a way that seems realistic. The island's police force is almost suicidal in its attempts to drive you off the road, making running on foot across the island a much safer, albeit slower option. Death isn't much of a problem, as most missions feature checkpoints, but being blown out of the air without warning can get a little annoying.
The island itself is stunningly beautiful, and the sense of scale is breathtaking. Pop-up and occasional frame rate stutters slightly ruin the view, but it's hard not to take in the scenery with anything other than a grin on your face. The denseness of the forest combined with some wonderful lighting gives the island a real vibrancy, and at times you'll sit there, watching the night turn to day - ideally from the seat of helicopter or while parachuting from high altitude.
All this beauty comes at a cost though. The island is so huge that you never get to learn its layout, and while all the trees and sea look fabulous, it all looks the same. Urban areas are in the minority, and these are pretty similar to one another, meaning the island doesn't feel as real as the play areas in Saints Row or the GTA games. Your PDA features a map, but it lacks the GPS function as seen in Saints Row and Test Drive Unlimited, so you'll find you have to constantly pause and check your position, unless you've decided to hijack an aircraft or walk as the crow flies towards your destination.
Despite its problems, Just Cause can be exhilarating. A combination of motion blur and awesome explosion effects gives an overall level of visual quality that can at times rival CGI - it really has to be seen to be believed. Audio is equally dramatic, with booming sound effects being used when needed, and a pumping soundtrack kicks in whenever the heat turns up a notch. Voice acting isn't too shabby either, although it's by no means the game's high point.
There's no multiplayer to lengthen the game's lifespan, but 50 achievements have been included for Xbox 360 players to earn. These are pretty well thought out and encourage players to get the most out of the game, but a few bugs prevented a couple from being awarded during my time with the game. Bugs can also be seen elsewhere, with cutscenes not loading properly, missions breaking due to objectives not being marked as completed, and numerous clipping problems that see Rico walking through objects. These little bugs really shouldn't have made it into the final release of the game, and do hurt the overall experience.
Just Cause's biggest draw is its huge island setting, but it's also what prevents the game world from feeling truly alive. As much as soaring through the sky in a fighter jet, before freefalling hundreds of feet, and then parachuting to your target destination is great fun, that's pretty much what you do, over and over again. The island lacks character and this is echoed throughout the missions themselves, making a game that is undeniably gorgeous, but lacking spark. Sight seers will certainly get their money's worth, and the main campaign is often enjoyable, but Just Cause is a long way from being the classic it could have been.