Stayed up all night playing Just Cause 3. While 2 was dubbed "Amazin Azn Advent" by friends, 3 is the same but vaguely Mediterranean instead of Asian. (Vaguely because, Rico Rodriguez is vaguely Hispanic, his friend Mario is vaguely Italian, etc.) Exhilarating European Endeavor, maybe? In any event, it's a perfect sequel: Bigger and better in every way. More vehicles, more map, better graphics, bigger and better-looking explosions. The ocean in this game is positively gorgeous. Unlike 2, where the civilians were just sort of there, in 3 they're in full support of your actions (though of course, they do tremble and scatter when you start firing weapons in public arenas). Actually, there are occasional events called "Encounters" where you have the opportunity to help those citizens out in little down-to-earth ways, like towing a car to a gas station, or forcing a stuck gate open. It really makes you feel like you're helping this country, and are an active part of its struggle (instead of just being the guy causing all the chaos).

Another thing I really like about this game is its vehicle system. Whereas in JC2, you could pick up any vehicle and drive it, adding to the list of vehicles driven, in JC3, you can grab any vehicle and take it to a liberated garage, where the rebellion will chop it, learn the parts, and be able to replicate it again on demand as part of the game's drop system. They've given this a bit of a nerf by requiring beacons for drops, items you can only pick up in certain locations (usually military bases and aforementioned garages, meaning you absolutely have to liberate areas to get them), meaning you can't just amass a large arsenal by constantly calling for vehicles and/or guns. You also can't just drive a tank to the garage; I mean, you can, but that won't unlock it. Military vehicles require the conquest of military bases, another feature to get you actively doing things in the game to benefit the people around you, instead of just screwing around.

Now, don't get me wrong: Screwing around is still phenomenally fun in this game. Rico's grappler has been upgraded, allowing as many as six different tethers to tie various items to other various items. These tethers can also be remotely retracted, pulling said items together. This can be used towards the game's ends, for example by pulling down statues by just tethering them to the ground, or destroying fuel tanks by tethering them together and slamming them into each other; this can also be used towards hilarity's ends, for example by tethering a body to two tall buildings and launching it like a giant slingshot. Further, there are scores of different challenges all over the countryside: Races, combat, skill challenges and the like, completing which will unlock various upgrades for Rico's weapons and abilities.

One of the things I was really surprised to see was just how much they tried to return to the roots of the original game, Just Cause. As a game, it wasn't much to sneeze at; the grapple hook was largely useless, the parachute was incredibly slow, and the gameplay just didn't exist. But, one of the things it did was allow you to liberate areas, clearing out waves of enemy forces before allowing the rebels into the area to try and push forward. Just Cause 3 has a very similar mechanic with its police stations. These are absolutely military police outposts, structured more like fortresses than an actual police station; once you grapple inside, you can either kill everyone nearby or just go for the control panel for the gate straight-away, letting in rebel forces to fight alongside you. These stations very often have multiple gates to push through, feeling very much like the original game. (Which is good, because quite frankly it was the only part of the original game I actually enjoyed.)

Unlike in Just Cause 2, in JC3, if you liberate a city or town, military presence within it is completely removed. Same with military bases or strategic locations; if you clear all the challenges, enemies will stop spawning within that area. Once you completely clear a province, military presence is diminished greatly (possibly even removed; I really wasn't paying attention when I cleared the first province), meaning the chances of being randomly attacked while in friendly territory is reduced almost to zero. This was done because, you're basically fighting in a civil war; as you liberate areas, the rebellion's forces move in and drive the incumbent military out. It's also entirely possible to destroy landmarks and such without acquiring any heat at all, unlike JC2; so long as you're hidden and authorities can't see you when you do it, you can absolutely get away with destroying everything. (I actually managed to get through the entire first town, up until the police station, without acquiring heat even once.)

Finally, there's one new mechanic added to this game that really puts it over the top: The wingsuit. While flying around with the parachute and grappling hook in JC2 was fun, the wingsuit takes it to a whole new level. A lot faster, still able to use the grappler to increase your speed, and physics that really make you feel like you're flying more than falling with style, the wingsuit is exactly what it needs to be for this game. It's difficult to get the hang of at first, and naturally any glancing blow to a rock or tree while flying sends you reeling with a large chunk of health suddenly missing, but it's loads of fun to get around with it, or even to screw around with it.

I've only been playing the game for about 2.5 hours, but everything I've seen thus far has led me to the conclusion: If you loved Just Cause 2, you will love Just Cause 3. And if you're just looking for a big open-world sandbox in which to steal vehicles, jump from really high places and glide to safety, or otherwise just be an action hero screwing around, I cannot recommend this game enough.