Just Cause 2 has everything I love about games: an open-world, bonkers vehicle physics, things exploding, more things exploding after that, meta-explosions, and grappling hooks. But it missed multiplayer like a phantom limb. Unbelievably, two years after it came out, it's about to get it: the JCMP2 mod takes the huge, gorgeous, chaotic world of Panau and somehow manages to drag it online.
The mod development team launched a stress-test of the servers this morning, and I hopped on alongside 90 other players. It's everything I hoped it would be: I spawned at Panau City, and watched as a car driven by another player screeched past. It was on fire, there was another player riding on top of it, and it was being chased by another player in an Agency Vehicle, the game's ubercars: he was pounding it with heavy-gun fire. The guy on top seemed unconcerned. Then a shadow passed overhead and I looked up to see a jet-liner crashing into skyscraper. This all happened within ten seconds of me joining the server.
The chaos is nothing new, but usually I'm instigator of it, not a specator. I peeked at the map: the only thing missing from the online game is the story and the NPCs. There are airports, cities, towns, even the blimp-based club is here. The hand weapons were missing, but they'll come: I headed to the nearest military airport, grappling someone off a bike as they passed (accidentally) and headed along the highway.
Without any formal structure, you make your own fun: races, group skydives, stunts. You'd be surprised how something as anarchic as JC2 brings about order. At the airport I found a small jet and took off back to the city, where some others were circling: a few of us all tried to fly level with each other, before diving into the crowded skyline and testing out the building's strength. Sure it's fun flying in formation, but eventually you just have to blow something up. I headed to the civilian airport, where things were so chaotic most of it was spend dodging wreckage falling from the sky.
It being a stress test, the developers decided to see what would happen with everyone in one place: they teleported us all over the island, from the party blimp, where we all partied hardy, to an accidental spawn underneath the ocean. I then found myself in freefall with a bunch of strippers above a mountain range. Whether it's racing cars in a helicopter, or grappling with friends onto the spinning blades of a windmill, it's wonderful. If Square-Enix have any sense, they'll put the game on sale just as the mod is finally released: this should shift a few copies.