This article was originally published in PC Gamer UK 223.
A while after I finished Just Cause 2 I couldn't really remember why I liked it so much, or why I stopped playing once I'd completed it. And it might have stayed dormant on my Steam account forever, but someone released a Superman mod for it.
When you'd normally activate your parachute, you just zoom through the air unaided. It's breath-taking. Deeply daft - a little man with silly hair ducking and diving in front of the craggy mountains as they zoom by - but breath-taking all the same. Everyone must try this. Not to any particular end, just to floop around for half an hour. Swoop under bridges. Track highways. Hug snow-caps, then air-ski down their slopes. Skim the glinting waters between mainlaind Panau and its satellite islands. Do, basically, all the things you'd do instead of saving people if you actually were Superman.
On missions, it's just funny. When a gang boss asks you to stop a paparazzo who's fleeing by motorbike, he's not prepared for you to fling yourself into the sky, weave between a suspension bridge and swoop down onto him inside of ten seconds. Grab the photos? Done. Take them to the- done. Next!
I swooped around some more, tracking traffic, confusing guards, driving cars off cliffs and flying off their rooves before they hit the ground. And by accident, I discovered a quirk of this mod: the minimum flying speed is actually very low. You accelerate fast, and you can't lose speed easily, but if you don't start with any you just kind of... float.(opens in new tab)
So I hop onto a slow moving vehicle, hit the Superman key and hover. You inherit the velocity of the vehicle, so you can drift above them like a creepy helium balloon - particularly hilarious on an open-top car. You gradually lose momentum and fall behind, but a single tap of the thrust key more than catches you up.
Pretty soon I find the perfect rhythm to track people, and from that point on, it's all I do. Guards loitering at a petrol station find me wafting ominously past the pumps, peering blankly into their eyes as I float glacially past them, then banking and moving on.(opens in new tab)
I veer seaward, ride the ocean breeze out to the channel, and zero in on a woman in a headscarf piloting a speedboat. She stares at me as I zoom along beside her head for a while. Eventually I struggle to keep my speed in check, so I land on the prow of her boat to get my bearings. She flings herself into the sea. The military show up in a gunboat.
I float above the guards, staring down at them as their M60 fire zips past me, then reach out with grappling hook and yank the gunner from his seat. The driver is lost. He seems to have second thoughts about trying to chase me now that his only means of attack is gone, but he can't lose me that easily. As he sploshes along on a trail of spume I hover, spreadeagled, unsettlingly close to his face. Yes, little guard, I am the strange new god of this world. And yes, this is how I have chosen to use my powers. To become a weird, floating creep.(opens in new tab)
Suddenly I remember why I loved Just Cause 2. Even before I was Superman, I spent most of my time confusing, tormenting and bewildering the inhabitants of Panau. I'd rope their sports cars to roadsigns to make them loop like a child's swing. I'd tie boulders to helicopters and watch them try to fly. I'd stand on runways and tie jets to the ground moments before take off. It was easy to forget because, like a dream, it was so completely surreal.
I'll probably forget this bizarre flying episode too, but it's hilarious while it lasts.