I played Just Cause 2 today, the "sandbox Rambo" game others at Kotaku have raved about. My "Rambo," named Rico, got killed by ninjas, but not before I learned some new terms and laws of physics.


"Pinata Kill": Just Cause 2, an open-world third-person action sequel set on 400 square miles of southeast Asian tropical island (snowy mountains included, of course), recognizes user-instigated mayhem and defines it. If the player makes game hero Rico shoot his grappling hook at an enemy and then, while still holding the left bumper, aims the targeting reticule onto the ceiling and releases, the enemy will be made to dangle from the ceiling. Kill him with a melee attack and that's a pinata kill, which the player will be informed of with a notification in the game screen's upper left corner.

"Hang Kill": See "Pinata Kill"; replace "melee" with "gun."

"Drag Kill": See "Pinata Kill" but replace most of the words with "drag the enemy at high speeds with the car you have tethered them to.

"Wrecking Ball": Oh, you know... Use grappling cable to tether vehicle to helicopter; fly helicopter; swing suspended vehicle into bad guys.


"Stunt Position": When driving gets boring or not dangerous enough, a single button press puts Rico on the hood of his still-moving car, allowing him to shoot from it, while still allowing the player a tiny bit of steering control. Rico can also cling to and move around the side of vehicles, which helps if the truck Rico zipped over to jack is loaded with enemies. Note: It is also possible to surf the hood of a car an enemy is driving, shooting at his buddies in their cars.

"Chaos Points": The series' new Mercenaries-inflected rewards system offers points for things blown up. The points automatically feed several progress bars that unlock new story missions, areas of the island, black market items and faction strongholds. This system was implemented to help space out the main story missions and compel gamers to go to what the developers promise is a more varied and enjoyable batch of side missions. (Another main change made supposedly at the behest of Just Cause 1 fans: The original's heavily auto-aimed shooting has now been replaced with less forgiving aim-assist shooting.)


"Ninjas": The surprise new enemies who killed my hopes of finishing the one Just Cause 2 mission I had, and this was after I had blown up four huge vents and many generic bad-guys-with-machine-guns at an enemy base in my search for a hostage. Ninjas don't like the grappling hook and just vanish in a puff of smoke, even if Rico is dual-wielding a machine gun and a Magnum against them.


"An Advanced Move": The phrase used by a Square-Enix representative today to describe the action I finally figured out how to do that got Rico airborne via his grappling hook and a parachute. Both the hook and the parachute are infinite-use items, the former activated with either a tap of the left bumper (shoots the hook and pulls Rico to the target) or a hold of that bumper (shoots the hook and pulls the target to Rico); the latter with a tap of the A button when Rico is high enough in the air and moving swiftly. So, Rico is standing. Shoot grappling hook at the ground about 20 paces ahead. Rico zips toward that point. Activate parachute during that zip; it puffs open and Rico gets a little lift. Shoot hook ahead at ground again and floating Rico lurches toward target with more momentum. Release hook and pull back on the chute. Rico is now sailing high into the sky.

March 23: The day when Just Cause 2 will be out on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 with unspecified downloadable content to follow.

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