Will gamers have ‘Just Cause’ for joy?

by Drew Nordman

Being the final month of 2015, you’d think that video game releases would be abounding with the holiday season right around the corner. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your level of disposable income) the majority of triple-A games launched last month. That being said here are a couple noteworthy titles dropping in December, along with my gaming predictions for 2016.

The Just Cause series has always been little more than a 90s action movie simulator, and it knows it. The games’ plots never venture far outside archetypal “weary hero tasked with toppling a corrupt dictator” trope that action movies fans should be more than familiar with. That being said, the over the top machismo and never ending explosions clearly place its tone well within the realm of parody, which somehow never makes you feel like any less of a bad ass. Released in 2010, Just Cause 2 was a remarkable improvement over its predecessor, offering a much more detailed and populated map that spanned nearly 1050 square kilometres. The mechanics of the game are what truly made it shine however. By providing a grappling hook that could attach itself to virtually any surface in tandem with an infinitely deployable parachute, the developers gave players the tools they needed to have a nearly limitless sense of creativity. Oh, there were also fighter jets, tanks and bazookas. The world map was literally a glorious playground of destruction. Say for instance you need to highjack an enemy plane to cut off their weapons supply, only problem is you’re stuck on the ground. Simply find a fuel canister, shoot it, then grapple onto it and rocket towards your objective, meanwhile feeling like a genius for inventing your own means of transport. If Just Cause 3 is even half as inventive and fun as 2 was, then it’s certainly worth your time. Look for it to explode onto shelves for PS4 Xbox One and Windows December 1st.

If you’re looking for a slower paced shooter, then you’ll be interested in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. A far more tactical experience than say your Call of Duties and Halos, Siege pits two teams of five players against each other in a strategic game of tug of war. Instead of mindless team death matches you see in most multiplayer shooters, Siege is heavily objective based. One team of special forces works to covertly rescue the hostage(s) or disarm an explosive, as the other more nefarious team attempts to thwart their adversaries by placing deadly traps and eliminating them via guerrilla warfare. As an ever changing game of cat and mouse, Siege should prove to be a pulse pounding experience as players adapt on the fly to other teams’ strategies. Look for Rainbow Six Siege to take hostage of your free time on December 1st for PS4 Xbox One and Windows.

2015 has been a pretty remarkable year for the gaming industry. With the current generation of consoles entering their third year, we’ve received some truly masterful games over the past 12 months. From the mind numbing terror of From Software’s Bloodborne to the irradiated wastelands of Bethesda’s Fallout 4, it’s been a great year to call yourself a gamer.

That being said, I believe we are about to enter an entirely new era of gaming. What if instead of just playing a game, you could be entirely immersed in the game’s world to the point where it almost seemed real? This past October, I was lucky enough to experience such a sensation when I tried demo for the Oculus Rift. A virtual reality headset that uses glass lenses, motion tracking and 3-D technology to ostensibly put you in the game, the Oculus could change the way we play games entirely. Virtual reality isn’t a new concept. When I was a kid, I vividly remember going the Red River Ex and seeing a booth that was showing off a VR demo. It was awesome and futuristic at the time but to give you some frame of reference as to how far the technology has actually come since then, that demo I saw back in the day was like rubbing two sticks together to make a fire; the Oculus is more akin to a flamethrower. When you put that headset on you really are transported to another world.

With this technology coming to market somewhere in the second to third quarter of 2016, I think there will be a huge paradigm shift in the way we experience games. The implications of this tech doesn’t only apply to gamers though. Imagine Skyping with somebody who feels like they’re right in front of you. Moreover, VR could have a huge impact for the disabled community. Speaking as a guy who’s in a wheelchair, who will probably never reach the top of Mount Everest, it would be pretty surreal to get a virtual peek at what that might be like. Look out for the Oculus rift and other products like it to make virtual reality significantly more real in 2016

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