Tag Archive: grappling hook


Understanding the gravity of the situation

After an unfortunately low bar was set with Sky Fortress—the first piece of Just Cause 3’s three-part expansion pass—I admit I wasn’t expecting much from part two, Mech Land Assault. A lot can change over three months, however, and it seems that at least some of my issues with the first part have been addressed—although this DLC add-on is still far from perfect.

Mech Land Assault opens up with Rico stumbling across a cargo plane being loaded with prisoners (as evidenced by their orange jumpsuits), and gets word from his old buddy, Tom Sheldon, that international mercenary group The Black Hand have been rounding up prisoners like this for weeks. Knowing the Black Hand can’t be up to anything good, Rico stows away aboard the plane and uses it to sneak through the protected airspace of an island just to the north of Medici. Here, Rico will uncover a Black Hand plot that involves an abandoned eDEN research station (bringing back unsavory elements from the last DLC), as he tries to free the Black Hand’s captives and get to the bottom of the illegal operation.

As usual, the story is really just an excuse for you to blow more stuff up in the open world Avalanche Studios has created. The true main draw for this DLC is that, as part of Black Hand’s operation on this new island, they’ve retrofitted advanced gravity-wielding construction equipment with auto-cannons, and are using them as makeshift walking tanks. Early on, Rico gets his hands on one of these new mechs—and, suddenly, you have your greatest chaos-causing weapon yet.

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Each mech can send out a powerful shockwave, as well as rip objects up from the ground (like prison walls and trees), turning them into deadly projectiles. My personal favorite, though, was lifting up a goat and launching it several hundred feet off a cliff—a great ride, at least until you get to the landing. This is the kind of mindless fun that has always been at the core of the Just Cause experience, and I’m always amazed at the new goodies Avalanche Studios continues to come up with, not to mention how seamlessly they are integrated into the game’s pre-existing open world.

Another plus with Mech Land Assault is that, while the gravity gun may seem all-powerful, it is actually very well balanced with the world around you—especially when facing off against other gravity tanks. Unlike Sky Fortress’s jetpack, which made you almost god-like in that DLC (and actually still comes in handy at several points here), your mech is still susceptible to the ever-present danger posed by the Black Hand and their occupying force. The new island Rico finds himself on may be full of plenty of things to wreck with your new toy, but this vulnerability provides a challenge that only makes the experience more enjoyable overall.

Where Mech Land Assault begins to stumble is reminiscent of where Sky Fortress also ran into problems: a clear lack of content being offered. While you do get the benefit of being able to take your mech tank back into the main portion of Just Cause 3, one new vehicle and a small additional island are meager offerings in a for-pay DLC pack. All told, Mech Land Assault does add a dozen or so new outposts to be liberated, but with only two story missions and two gear challenges, you can one-hundred percent this add-on in two and a half hours maximum. There’s also then the fact that the few cut scenes presented for the story missions are, once again, just art stills accompanied by voiceover.

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Just Cause 3: Mech Land Assault is a fun little add-on for Avalanche Studios’ latest sandbox adventure, but considering the overall lack of content and its relatively steep price point, you might need to be really desperate to get back into Just Cause 3 if you’re using this as your excuse. Still, what is here is enjoyable, and much better balanced than what we saw in Sky Fortress, showing Avalanche Studios is at least moving in the right direction with this post-launch content—and giving me hope for the final chapter in the three-part DLC season pass.

Developer: Avalanche Studios • Publisher: Square Enix • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 06.10.16
7.5
More fun and better balanced than the first DLC in Just Cause 3’s season pass, Mech Land Assault suffers from the same issue of having just an overall lack of content to hold your attention for very long.
The Good The gravity mechs are fun new vehicles for Rico to play with and don’t mess with the balance of the game.
The Bad A lack of overall content.
The Ugly You ever try discus-throwing a goat?
Just Cause 3: Mech Land  Assault is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Sqaure Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

The Just Cause series is known for its over-the-top, insane action sequences that see protagonist Rico Rodriguez wreak havoc across lands plagued by despotic regimes. Rocket launchers, C4, machine guns and other weapons are often perfectly suitable means for Rico to go about his business causing mayhem, but in Just Cause 3 his classic grappling hook might trump them all.

In Just Cause 2, Rico could tether two objects together and cause them to snap into one another, like explosive barrels to soldiers, to help Rico achieve his objectives, especially if running low on traditional ammo. Just Cause 3 has enhanced Rico’s grappling hook to a degree that explosive barrels and soldiers is thinking far too small.

While I played the game, I discovered two new attributes to the grappling hook. First, Rico can fire up to three grappling hooks at one time., allowing him to manipulate larger objects in the environment. Second, the grappling hooks start off with slack, but you can control the tension with the right stick of your controller. Thus, you can properly place your hooks before trying to take down a large object, or set traps in areas where you know enemies might soon arrive.

At first, I used these mechanics to take down statues of Medici’s dictator, General Di Ravello. Statues are just one of many destructible objects in the environment, and they must be destroyed to free Medici from Di Ravello’s rule. I fired my three hooks at Ravello’s face, which was as large as Rico’s torso, and connected them to the ground below. As I cranked up the wires, the full body statue began to crack around its kneecaps. Then it started to twist and turn. Finally, when the crack expanded, the statue broke off its base and smashed onto the ground with a gloriously satisfying crash.

Soon after, I moved onto propaganda towers, then to large projectors playing Ravello’s greatest hits in piazzas. But my crowning achievement came with a large, round oil container and a police station at the bottom of a hill.

The oil container, itself was the size of a small building, was propped up off the ground by six key supports. Using a rifle, I carefully blasted out three supports. I then fired the grappling hooks into the container and latched them onto the ground about halfway down the hill. Slowly, I cranked up the tension.

In mere moments, the container broke free of the other three supports and began sliding towards the other end of the hooks. Once it reached a certain point, however, gravity did the rest of the work. While the container began sliding down the hill, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, toward the police station, I fired several more rounds into its side, setting off a stream of white-hot flame. The container collided with the station wall, exploding in a blast that nearly took up my entire screen and leaving nothing but charred bodies and rubble in its wake. It was beautiful.

This was not an in-game objective. This was the freedom Just Cause 3 and the tools, specifically the new grappling hook, afforded me. I wondered if I could do something, tried it, and it worked out beautifully in my favor. I was limited only by my imagination and desire to cause wanton destruction. And I get the sense that there are a lot more insane explosion opportunities around Medici, waiting for players to discover them. I, for one, cannot wait.

Just Cause 3 will drop this holiday season for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC.

Originally Published: December 28, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Bionic Commando Rearmed from Capcom from the Xbox Live Arcade.

Originally Published: December 27, 2010, on Youtube.com/CgrUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Bionic Commando for the Xbox 360 from Capcom.