The thing is, it's what you can do with vehicles that will set Just Cause apart from the other slew of sandbox games on the market. Sure, you can nick them GTA-style, or order them in from a drop-ship chopper, but who'd have ever thought you'd be able to paraglide behind every one, or ride the roof of an unsuspecting enemy car like a surfboard?
Rico can grapple-line any vehicle, then deploy his parachute, sending him high above the action. He can then cut himself free and drift over the islands, going wherever he likes. If he's bobbing about in the brine as a speedboat tries to mow him down, during a pass he can fire out the grapple, paraglide high above the boat, then drift safely into the hills or onto a bridge.
It gets better too, because there are some seriously impressive ways of losing a tail or evading a squad of government cop cars (they work on the same principle of notoriety as GTA does). Simply drive over the edge of a cliff, and as the car tumbles away into the tree tops below, Rico climbs out and swoops to safety. It's more 007 than Roger Moore's eyebrows.
There will be around 100 cars alone, as well as a glut of helicopters, boats, planes, gyrocopters, bikes, and just about anything else that can float, fly or floor it. And these
vehicles need to be in numerous supply as well. The islands are huge, maybe a little too huge, in fact. As much as we love large game areas, we can't help worrying if Avalanche has gone overboard? Surely no one is going to want to explore everywhere. That's where the juicy incentives come in, to get you off the beaten track...
"There are plenty of things to do. The side-missions are very important," Sundberg says. "You can go and find more equipment than you would by just taking a car and going into a city. We have kept some cars real rarities, so people can have a reason to explore the island. There are also races - we have collect missions in which the packets will allow you to unlock extra weapons and treats. There's plenty to do."
We can't argue with that. All the towns and villages (they total in excess of 100) are held under government force, so just freeing a smattering of settlements is going to be a game in itself. There are also those races to indulge in, all of which are checkpoint-themed and require a lot of steady steering up high on those mountain tracks. Win, and you're rewarded in cash for extras like more ammo and weapon upgrades. Then there are the collect missions to get stuck into. Try to imagine finding ten packets as small as a bag of sugar somewhere on an island too big to walk across. Too much hassle? Then, how about for your troubles you get to pilot a chopper so powerful the downdraft of its rotors is enough to knock enemies off their feet?
"You can pretty much do any mission any way you like, so long as you get it done," says Sundberg. There's the mission where you have to destroy a coca plantation, for example. You can just blow the crap out of the place with grenades, but more subtle options include stealing a truck laden with poison and spraying the crops with it, or bombing it to the local airstrip, nabbing a crop duster and doing the same thing from above. It takes a little longer, and you're likely to meet some resistance on the way to the airport, but it has its benefits - that island is large, and remember, being airborne is a godsend for the short-sighted. Which gets us back to that incredible 32km draw distance. You'll see no scenery-obscuring fog - unless it's actual fog that's part of the real-time dynamic weather system. Impressive.
But how does Rico get from being inside a car, to suddenly riding air currents and gazing out over misty mountains and far-off villages? Well, thankfully, with great ease. The game plays super-smoothly, as we find when Sundberg offers us the controller to give us a hands-on.