When you’re close to death, the screen turns to black and white, an ap­pro­pri­ate pun­ish­ment for a job poorly done in such a cheer­fully colour­ful game. In fact, it’s a fate worse than death, since Avalanche treats fail­ure with a gen­tle hand; die, and you respawn a short dis­tance away, your ammo re­stocked, and all pre­vi­ous de­struc­tion re­mem­bered. A par­tic­u­larly tricky base can be whit­tled down life by life, safe in the knowl­edge that a full stock of ex­plo­sives is only a trip to the af­ter­life away. It’s a more vi­able tac­tic on PC than on con­soles, where weary­ingly long load­ing times en­cour­age a rather more tra­di­tional fear of videogame death. PC users with an SSD, how­ever, can be as dare­devil as they like. towns and bases, they are no longer just op­tional dis­trac­tions but es­sen­tial, since they hold the keys to the up­grade sys­tem. Want more teth­ers? Get a three­star rat­ing in this Pilotwings- style wing­suit chal­lenge. Fancy a ni­trous boost for your boat col­lec­tion? Clear this speed­boat course, and it’s yours. Whether this is prefer­able to the tra­di­tional XP-and-skill-point sys­tem is de­bat­able, but in the con­text of a game that spends far too long giv­ing you the same thing to do and ex­pect­ing you to make it in­ter­est­ing for your­self, it’s a wel­come, de­signer-crafted change of pace. Pace is the game’s big­gest prob­lem, but it isn’t its only one. While our PC playthrough yielded sev­eral tech­ni­cal is­sues, many have al­ready been ad­dressed in a day-one patch, and more won’t be an is­sue on beefier rigs. But a brief test of the con­sole ver­sions sees fram­er­ate fre­quently sac­ri­ficed for ex­plo­sive spec­ta­cle, and some un­bear­able load times – es­pe­cially when retry­ing chal­lenges in the hope of a bet­ter rat­ing and a new up­grade. But even when Just Cause 3 is be­ing dis­ap­point­ing – when you’re pulling down your 20th Di Ravello statue of the af­ter­noon, watch­ing as yet an­other po­lice sta­tion fuel tank goes up in bril­liant flames – it is hard to com­plain too much. This, af­ter all, is a game that goes out of its way to em­power in a way few other games dare. It can have its lit­tle mis­steps. Shel­don, the Texan CIA agent who is quite ob­vi­ously not to be trusted, puts it per­fectly late on. “You need a more pos­i­tive out­look on life,” he says. “You’ve got an in­fi­nite parachute, for Pete’s sake.” Fair point.

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