I’m not sure how many video gamers are clamoring for a new “Grand Theft Auto” copycat game. For that matter, I’m not sure how many gamers are clamoring for a new “Grand Theft Auto.”
The genre is so old at this point, it has whiskers and a walker.
But here’s the rub: “GTA” copycats keep getting better and better. The latest is bloody “Just Cause 2,” an embarrassingly addictive adventure, where (of course) you hijack vehicles and kill people.
But hold on. It’s far better and more creative than that description allows.
You portray a vaguely foreign-tongued supersoldier. Your goal is to work with three rival militias, while blowing up towns, in order to create havoc that will inspire islanders to rise up against their evil dictator.
But unlike the usual “GTA” outing, you are armed with a supernatural grappling hook. You can stand in a forest, point it at a bad guy’s helicopter, fire the hook at the helicopter, zip line up to it, throw out the pilot, then fly it.
And instead of running (since running is so 20th century), you fire the grappling hook at a tree or a car (or vertically up to the top of a building), then you zip line really fast to that point.
That means you typically zip across 100 meters in one or two seconds. And if you jump off a building, you are equipped with an always-reusable supernatural parachute that lets you float to safety.
In other words, “Just Cause 2” feels like “GTA” but with some “Spider-Man” abilities to pull off superhuman stunts. The game makers have executed this great idea excellently.
The scope of this game is unbelievable. You are on a gigantic, gorgeous island that makes “GTA” cities seem small. The island has jungles, cities, snowy mountain towns, and even a stripper pole-laden disco airship, which is carried in the air by two zeppelins. (I love that disco airship!)
To get to that disco airship, hijack a helicopter and land on its bridge. Oh, that reminds me: This is the best helicopters-battling-in-the-air game I’ve ever seen. They are oh-so-fun.
I’ve played this game for about 11 hours, and I believe I’ve explored only about 8 percent of the island.
Unfortunately, the game starts ploddingly and too easily. At first, it seems like any average solo adventure, before it turns entertaining and sometimes hard to beat.
And the controls can take some getting used to. I threw hand grenades instead of my grappling hook about 12 times before I stopped making that mistake.
But after a few initial missions, I got the hang of it all: walking with an enormous machine gun; using my grappling hook and parachute to slingshot for 100 meters at a time; and blowing stuff up real good.
I have to say, from bazookas to triggered explosives, I am enjoying “Just Cause 2” more than I enjoyed “Grand Theft Auto IV.” I know — that’s heresy! But whatever. “Just Cause 2” is good stuff, copycat or not.
(“Just Cause 2” by Square Enix retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 — Plays very fun. Looks great. Challenging. Rated “M” for blood, drug reference, language, sexual themes and violence. Four stars out of four.)
Contact Doug Elfman at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.NEW IN STORES
“Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City” (Take Two) already came out for the Xbox 360 as downloadable bonus content for “GTA IV.” Now here comes the bonus content for the PS 3 and PC.
“Episodes from Liberty City” is wrapped with two stories. In one, you portray an interim gang leader who has to deal with a turf war when the gang’s old leader wraps up rehab. In the other story, you portray Gay Tony, a main henchman for a nightclub owner.
The plots, violence, dialogue and cinematic cut scenes feel like “GTA,” with slight variations.
The usual: You get a lot of guns, from grenade launchers to sawed-off shotguns. And you have to do gnarly things, such as handle heroin, and kill, kill, kill.
What’s slightly unusual is a periodic, lesser demand for you to carjack and drive. So you shoot even more than usual, perhaps, which is saying something indeed.
But carjacking fans, don’t fret. You get to hijack a train and carry out many other “GTA”-esque missions. I don’t mean to mislead you into thinking otherwise.
The April 13 release retails for $40 for PS 3; $30 for PC. It’s rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of alcohol and use of drugs.
“Cabela’s Monster Buck Hunter” (Activision) is a hunting simulator. I can’t tell you much more than that. Deer and geese, and other wildlife, frolic about green pastures, ravines and other natural locales.
You shoot them. They die. That’s all I had heard by deadline from Activision about the game.
The game retails for $30 for Wii; $50 for the Wii package that comes with a plastic play-along gun. It’s rated “T” for violence.
“Sushi Go-Round” (South Peak Interactive) is a sushi game. Yes! A sushi game. It’s based on the hit casual game players have been downloading online for PCs.
The point is to work in a sushi restaurant. There are puzzles. There are quick-cooking time challenges. You memorize ingredients in recipes. And you try to expand your sushi empire.
The game retails for $30 for Wii and DS. It’s rated “E” with alcohol reference.
— By DOUG ELFMAN