A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Just Cause 4 is a third-person shooter for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. Players control Rico, an action hero working to liberate a country and taking down an autocrat by recruiting an army of rebels and winning back the island piece by piece. Few games are more mindlessly violent, though much of the action is knowingly over-the-top and meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Rico uses anything he can get his hands on -- guns, rocket launchers, tanks, helicopters, jets -- to kill just about every enemy he runs across. The chaos often results in the death of innocent civilians and workers. He never expresses any remorse -- or sometimes even awareness -- of the damage he causes. Players will also see characters frequently drinking, smoking, and cursing throughout the game.
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What's it about?
Rico Rodriguez returns in JUST CAUSE 4 to rid another repressed population of another tyrant, laying waste to nearly everything he sees in the process. The game begins with Rico discovering that his father once worked with The Black Hand, a group of mercenaries hired by dictators across Central and South America. He decides to get to the bottom of his dad's involvement, which pits him against the leader of The Black Hand and requires him to enlist the help of some rebellious locals who want to take back their country. Rico takes on missions to free prisoners, liberate factories, and destroy enemy facilities, building up an army of freedom fighters along the way that players can order to take and hold sections of the island. As in past games in the series, the action is wildly over-the-top. What's more, his trademark grappling gun -- which Rico uses not just to zoom up to higher ledges but also to quickly zip across flat terrain -- can be upgraded in a variety of ways, allowing him to do things like tether balloons to objects to lift them out of his way.
Is it any good?
As sequels go, this one feels uninspired, satisfied to let the success of its predecessors do all the heavy lifting. While Just Cause 4 provides players with a brand-new island country full of natural and human-made wonders to discover, the action in this world is very familiar. Players use whatever Rico can lay his hands on, from gunboat and jets to turrets and rocket launchers -- even his grappling gun can be put to creative use -- to kill everyone and destroy everything in sight. To be fair, objectives go beyond simple destruction -- like moving between consoles to flip switches before a timer expires, or driving bomb-rigged vehicles into the ocean to safely disarm them -- but the result's usually the same: lots of dead bad guys, exploded infrastructure, and a chipper, miraculously unharmed Rico strolling out of the fire and smoke. Even the handful of new concepts -- like the island's manufactured weather, which can zap helicopters out of the sky with a single lightning burst -- feel like they've been stapled onto the same formula used for past games in the series rather than leveraged to create something new.
Retreading of old ideas aside, there's still an undeniable satisfaction in all the devastation. Few other games give players the sort of destructive firepower at Rico's disposal. Almost nothing's held back. From the very start, players can level entire enemy facilities using whatever they find. And Rico's nonsensical robustness is a nice change of pace from grittier games, where a single bullet is all it takes to send you back to a distant save point. The designers clearly want nothing to get in the way of players creating a laughable amount of chaos, and they deserve some credit for sticking to their principles throughout. Still, Just Cause 4 feels more like a great big expansion to Just Cause 3 rather than its own game. Older players looking for over-the-top action will have some fun, but this is a game better purchased at a discount rather than at full price.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in Just Cause 4 affected by the constant mindless violence committed by the player? Would the impact be lessened if there were limits to the chaos and destruction you could cause?
Can you think of any examples of peaceful protests that have brought about change for repressed populations? Are there better ways to effect change in society or government?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: December 4, 2018
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.