Top Five Video Games of 2015
More than any other form of entertainment, video games are a highly subjective experience. You're colored by your particular path, your play style, your general preference toward genres, your skill level, your immersion level. Even things like your TV and stereo system can greatly change how you play and experience a video game.
That is to say, if I was to open this up for conversation in our editorial room, we'd have several different sets of top fives.
So I didn't. Here, instead, are the top five games I was thrilled with this year. Of course, while we like our top fives here, that does mean there are several that didn't quite make the list. So first, a shoutout to some honorable mentions:
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, LEGO Dimensions, NHL '16 (seriously, best sports game of the year, and best hockey game in about twenty), Just Cause 3, Arkham Knight, I salute you. I spent a lot of time with all of you this year, and enjoyed quite a bit of that time.
Marvel Heroes 2015
The reinvention of Marvel Heroes technically started in 2014 (they named it like sports games or cars, apparently), but Marvel Heroes 2015 was definitely one of my best gaming experiences of the year. The game, which honestly failed to capture my imagination (or precious gaming time) when it first came out, became a consistent part of my year. Collecting Marvel characters and building them up, seeing how they can take down the baddies of the Marvel Universe in new, exciting ways is an utter blast. The constant reshifting of those characters from abilities to enhancements, from costumes to total conversions, and the general support that Gazillion gives the game, has been spectacular, and more importantly, a blast.prevnext
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
Assassin's Creed really needed a strong 2015 showing. After the disastrous bug-riddled release in 2014 failed to continue the momentum of a solid couple of years, the series needed a bounce back. Luckily, it got one with the excellent Syndicate.
If there's something holding this title back from being higher on this list, it's the fact that Jacob Frye is almost as awful as his twin sister and fellow protagonist Evie Frye is awesome. Luckily, she edges it out, and playing as her is a dream. The game found new, better ways to present the franchise. A re-focus on single player made all the difference in the world, as this version of London was expansive, fun, and exciting to explore. Throw in the surprise World War I missions, fight clubs, and better side missions than many of the primary missions have been in the last couple of years, and this one got a lot right. I'm excited for the Assassin's Creed franchise again, just in time for 2016, with new games and a movie on the way.prevnext
Rise of the Tomb Raider
There was a tremendous game that came out a couple of years ago, and it brought a franchise back from the dead. Tomb Raider made Lara Croft a three-dimensional character in more than just polygons, and finally gave us a real challenger to the years-long adventure/exploration domination of one Nathan Drake.
Rise of the Tomb Raider took everything Square Enix learned from that incredible resurgence and turned things up considerably. The game didn't innovate a lot, instead letting the Crystal Dynamics team take some time to perfect what they'd already done so well. It doesn't always need to be 100% brand new in a game series to also be excellent. Sometimes, it's more about continuing to explore what makes a character do absolutely bat-sh*t crazy things, while also letting them explore amazing areas, solve great puzzles, and have more action than several other games in the series combined. Rise of the Tomb Raider did all that.prevnext
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
If you have about 200 hours to kill, The Witcher 3 is the game for you. This game's world is just huge and has so much to do. My one complaint, and what made this not quite hit the top spot this year despite my general affinity to RPGs, was that I never felt quite connected to Geralt, the lead character of the story. I always felt like I was directing a film, telling a character where to go and what to do, rather than stepping into the shoes of that character, becoming them.
Despite this, the game's depth, especially that of the world and the people living in it, was worth giving up over a week's worth straight of time for in 2015. Honestly, I didn't do everything I wanted to yet in that game, and that's an exciting prospect, knowing I can go revisit it again in the future and still find something new.prevnext
Disney Infinity 3.0
If you follow me or this site at all, this shouldn't be too surprising. I love this game. Disney Infinity 3.0 is the ultimate realization of the promise of the franchise, finally giving us the true toy box feel for some of our favorite - and the best - characters in history.
The feeling when my wife and I fought Darth Maul with Iron Man and Jasmine was unlike anything I've ever had in a video game. Playing this game makes me feel like a kid and just fills my heart with sheer joy. The new Star Wars characters and play sets also gave us the best gaming with the Star Wars franchise in years, and showed how the stories from The Clone Wars, the Original Trilogy, and the new Force Awakens all hold up, even when told through a different, and sillier, lens.
It's not the deepest game in the world. It's not a game about connecting to characters or even really about exploring every inch of a wild world. It's a game about having fun and remembering what it means to play. And that's why it's the best game of 2015.prev