Just Cause 2
Although the original Just Cause impressed with its vast open-world and exotic setting, the game proved slightly too repetitive for most gamer's tastes. Visually too, JC failed to measure up to its sandbox contemporaries, never looking anything more than functionally nice, if you catch our drift.
Good news then for fans of Just Cause and the game's swarthy Latino uber spy superstar Rico Rodriguez - the sequel is looking to outstrip its predecessor in just about every department, adopting the bigger, better, faster, louder, harder, meatier, genetically-modified, steroid-enhanced approach to building a superior follow-up.
Despite proudly boasting an impressive draw distance that stretches as far as the eye can see, achingly gorgeous environments and a remarkable attention to detail lacking from most open-world titles however, it's more than likely that JC2's ardent devotion to mission variety will likely win the game the most plaudits.
Addressing the criticisms levelled at the first JC head on, Swedish developer Avalanche has iterated its powerful proprietary Avalanche Engine to version 2.0, allowing for a much larger world than before. 400 square miles is the figure we're given by Squeenix's PR people, which sounds slightly excessive if you ask us. Perhaps they meant square kilometres.
Visiting what was once Eidos' HQ in London - the offices now bear the Square Enix Europe brand since the Japanese giant bought out the ailing company - we're led past Rhona Mitra's iconic Lara Croft costume carefully stowed in a glass cabinet, through reception and into a room where the game is rigged up and ready to go.
Beforehand, we're given a hands-off demonstration of an action-packed rescue mission, which sees Rico having to locate and extract one of his important contacts - a drunken Swedish operative by the name of Karl Blaine. The objective is the perfect intro to Just Cause 2's Hollywood action movie inspired lunacy, featuring an intense gun battle (during a casual dialogue between the two characters), a head-to-head with a tooled up helicopter and multiple teeth-rattling explosions.
As we eventually sit down to play, we have to admire the fearless, slick ex-CIA agent Rodriguez. Not only is he cool and calm in a heated gunfight, he'll also happily leap off a vertigo-inducing cliff edge with nary a thought for his own preservation.
Fittingly, our hands-on session opens on top of a dusty precipice, which we're encouraged to brazenly leap off of. Thankfully, Rico is still sporting an ever-lasting supply of parachutes that can be deployed at any time, so a safe landing is (almost) always guaranteed. Taking Rico to the brand new sunny climes of Panau island in south-east Asia, our hero is now rocking a fully integrated parachute and grappling hook combo that allows him to tether objects or enemies to any object and traverse around his environment at speed like a gun-toting Spider-Man (with a parachute). The scope for experimentation is enormous as you connect baddies to explosive barrels, suspend them from tall masts or catapult them from great heights or over great distances.
Chaos is the watchword for Just Cause 2 and as such there's more than ample opportunity to create it using the array of weaponry at your disposal and the hazardous incendiary items carelessly scattered around the environment. Anything bearing the crimson star of Panau's ruthless dictator Baby Panay represents a target and destroying water towers, pylons, propaganda stands or any marked object increases your chaos gauge, eventually unlocking additional missions for you to attempt.
Our introductory mission takes us to a heavily guarded base, where we decide to implement a loud in, loud out approach, flying in by attack chopper, attracting far too much hostile attention for our own good, which immediately shows up on the heat gauge.