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.DDS or "DirectDraw Surface" is a way of storing textures. It's a common format that is used in games including Just Cause 2. Just Cause 2 natively uses .DXT1 as the compression format but any can be used in the game.
DDS in Just Cause 2Edit
DDS files are the primary way Just Cause 2 stores textures and are easily modified. Any one texture can use up to three different DDS files:
This is the base texture. If you want to modify only the texture (i.e. color Rico's shirt red), modify this file.
This texture changes the shading and specularity. Shading makes the texture darker. Specularity makes it more "shiny". This is accomplished through the different color channels:
RED CHANNEL: It's not completely sure what red does. From the brief testing that's so far been done, it seems to be used in conjunction with blue for shading, but it's not certain if that is how it works. It may also be AO (Ambient Occlusion).
BLUE CHANNEL: More blue shades the texture. This can be seen in the Pell Silverbolt 6 where the dark grey parts are actually the .mpm .dds's blue parts whereas the actual .dif texture is white.
GREEN CHANNEL: This controls specularity. The more green there is, the shinier the texture looks. If you want a chrome effect, set this to the maximum but be warned - it can look ugly if you overdo it (jagged edges of polygons, aliasing in the reflections, etc).
The MPM texture also appears to control parts of a texture that might light up ingame. For example, an airplane's cockpit controls light up ingame when the player enters the plane.
ALPHA CHANNEL: This controls which parts of the texture light up when desired. White color means that part of the texture does not light up, while black means that the texture does light up.
Main article: Normal mapping (at wikipedia).
These are normal maps. They make a model look more detailed than the actual polygon model below it. It's difficult to edit these too much because it's a guessing game as to how it will look. Gibbed and some other community members have managed to extract the models of the game with UV mapping, so those of you with the tools to do that kind of stuff (like Mudbox), should look into it.
Climate textures (found in the climate folder) are unique in that their normal maps have a completely blacked out blue channel.
There are some tutorials out there about how to do this, and if you understand some programming, it is recommended that you go here for a more detailed explanation and tutorial.