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Just Cause 1 — Lovely wrapping paper, little present.
Rico Rodriguez, star insurgent, glares at the air mattress that defeated him. His trusty machine gun slaughtered a drug cartel, but it cannot even mark this rubbery nemesis blocking the ladder. He cannot pick it up. Jumping, he bounces off the ladder. As they warned him in spy school, ladders only work at the bottom. He shall never reach the helicopter above.

All around me are lush visuals, from the voluptuously toned beaches to the misty mountains in the far, far draw distance. At my feet lies a trivial, but broken and niggly thing ruining my sense of immersion.

I drive to a story mission. Sheldon and Maria are waiting on a beach by their mobile command post. It may be mobile but they aren't. They stand rigidly still — a life-sized Ken and Front Heavy Barbie. Rico is reasonably realistic. Maria is roughly human above the neckline. Sheldon's mum appears to have had an affair with Mr Potato Head.

In the driving section the bad guys can shoot me, but I cannot shoot back. If I stop to kill them on foot, more will respawn. On foot, fights happen inside a nebulous cloud of respawning baddies. There is no logic to their materialisation, hence cover can cease to have meaning in an instant. They respawn behind me when I employ even rudimentary tactics.

The baddies die quickly, being as dumb as concussed ducks. I can soak up their bullets, but die from the gentlest tap by a car, often driven by my own side. I just run for the objective: I'll take a few hits either way. These baddies look unnervingly like Raoul Duke from Doonesbury.

Earlier I turned off the looping music and blinding bloom. Then the sound, because of the endless irritiating drone of inexplicably Ricophilic helicopters and sourceless voice spam: "Halt, Citizen!" over and over. Now I'm ignoring some bad guys as being unavoidable, unthreatening, unending and unrewarding.

I find a plane that isn't locked away by an air mattress. Airborne, the world looks luscious. I move my view to admire a river dotted with sandbars and small islands. The game jealously snatches the camera back.

There is fun to be had. Rico has some neat grappling gun and parachute tricks, and makes some things go boom. But exploration yields duplicated and brain-dead sidequests. Go get a car. Go kill Raoul Duke again.

They made a much better sequel. Play that.
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