Rico Rodriguez stands, head in the clouds, 1200 feet above sea level. The Southeast Asian island of Panau shimmers far below, a colourful patchwork quilt of diverse terrain, all couched within a Sonic-blue ocean upon whose surface ten thousand pricks of sunlight wink lazy. There's no time to fully take in this National Geographic photo spread of a vista, however. In twenty seconds a helicopter gunship will tear bullet holes through the cirrus wisp and silence - a problem when your feet are planted on two giant zeppelins' worth of compressed gas.
The twin 40-foot balloons are arranged side-by-side to look, from the ground, every bit like a gigantic pair of floating breasts. Beneath them hangs Just Cause 2's most recognisable skymark and seedy dance venue, the Mile High Club, a heaving celebration of juvenility and business ventures birthed on the strength of a pun.
Ten minutes earlier, Rodriguez leaped from a stolen jet at 1400 feet before falling 200 and latching a grappling hook into the airship's side and swinging overboard, the only way to gain entry to this most exclusive of videogaming's erotic venues. Five minutes earlier, Rodriguez skulked through its neon-lit belly, taking a moment to enjoy the dancers gyrating on tabletops, and to scout out the position of every barman polishing a hidden shotgun in between serving daiquiris.
Rodriguez is working for a US agency, initially on a job to confront his boss, who has gone rogue on the island, and later on to overthrow the dictatorial regime that has the island's inhabitants in its grip
There are just a handful of core story missions for the agency for whom Rodriguez works, unlocked sequentially every few hours as you gain enough chaos points. As a result, the vast majority of your missions are delivered by one of the three factions on the island looking to overthrow the government, all of whom you ally yourself with.
There are moments of brilliance, such as the mission in which you stumble across a smaller island, off the mainland's coast, which is home to 50 or so octogenarian Japanese soldiers, unaware the Second World War ended 60 years ago and as a result hostile to any visitor.
The world of Just Cause 2 is deep, rich, beautiful even! The voice acting is beyond parody, but somehow that adds to the experience. Just Cause 2 succeeds in delivering both the best-looking and most pleasant open world to explore and some of the most thrilling and diverse ways of moving through it! Nice.