Like any other person on the Internets with an opinion, I am obligated by galactic law to fart out some banal list of things that I enjoyed over the previous year. It fills some calendar space and allows for time off to do Holiday business. On top of this…NO EFFORT REQUIRED.
This list is intentionally short and has been culled down from a much bigger list. Look, you don’t need a top ten, twenty, or fifty list to know what was truly good or not. At a certain point, it kind of doesn’t matter if the list is so long. What is the true difference between something that’s #8 or #6 on a list?
In addition, I don’t have any “best” music on this list because I’m not in to music as much as I am with movies, television and video games.
With all that out of the way, let us do this list! In no particular order:
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
MGSV is a fantastic game; it controls beautifully, looks great and has a lot on offer when you initially sit down to play it. I couldn’t count the number of tense situations I would find myself in as I tried mightily to go as stealth as possible. In my younger days, with previous Metal Gear Solid games, I would mostly play them Rambo style. It didn’t really affect the game in any tangible way, and MGSV is no different. Now that I’m older, and my old man hands aren’t nearly as nimble as they were, I did not want to be caught. On top of this, the enemy AI is a lot more intelligent than in previous entries. Don’t get me wrong, they are still pretty stupid and once you learned the give and take with the AI, the game becomes excessively easy.
I loved the way the game adapted to my play style and started adding little touches like helmets and body armor to the guards to mix up the interactions.
What story was there was decent, engaging and propelled the game along only bogging down in the back end as you tried to unlock the “true” ending and other nonsense that fleshed out MGSV’s story, but was ultimately more to it’s determent as it showed the games troubled development and seemingly stitched togetherness to get it out the door nature.
Saying all that, the initial forty or so hours of MGSV make it a great game in 2015.
I loved Dead Island for really only one reason: the jank. Barring that, the game would’ve been unplayable and not worth anyone’s time. Nevertheless, the games developer, Techland, seemed to learn a fair amount of game design lessons from their time with Dead Island and corrected them for Dying Light. Thankfully, they kept the jank in too!
I spent countless hours with Dying Light this year and enjoyed all of them. This would’ve been impossible if not for the jank. I spammed countless weapons and money for myself, which didn’t make this supremely difficult game any easier mind you, just gave me some much-needed room to breathe.
While I initially purchased a PS4 for Far Cry 4, Dying Light really proved to me the need for a console upgrade, and for that, it is put on the list.
Depending on the month and the current game I’m playing my mood on the PlayStation Plus program ebbs and flows. I would say that it’s worth the $50 for a year membership, but then need only look at the meager December 2015 offerings of Gauntlet and the first chapter of King’s Quest to say that it is not. But then I think back on how much fun I had with Rocket League.
I won’t lie; I haven’t played much since the first DLC pack was released. I gladly gobbled that up and gave Psyonix my money as a huge “Thank You!” for the sheer month of fun I had with their game. I’ve kept up with the news and dutifully downloaded all the patches in the vain hope that one day I’ll come back to this ridiculously fun game.
Rocket League was my go to “drunk game” in July. I loved nothing more than being fucked up and playing the game, somehow becoming one with my car and scoring on fools repeatedly. The short game lengths lend perfectly to this notion of “Just one more game!” until hours had passed by in a blur.
2015 wasn’t nearly as good a year for movies as 2014 was. For me the dark sinking pit notion of every summer being glutted with staid, banal superhero movies set in.
Enter Ex Machina. For a modestly budgeted movie, Ex Machina absolutely proved that you don’t need hundreds of millions of dollars to tell a great science fiction story. The movie reminded me a lot of early Christopher Nolan films in that it used nuance and story to great affect, eschewing the crutch of CGI as much as possible.
While the film needs you to empathize with Alicia Vikander’s Ava, the true stars of the film are the conversations between Oscar Isaac’s Nathan and Domnhall Gleeson’s Caleb about what it means to be essentially human on the planet earth.
Rick and Morty (Season 2)
While I loved Rick and Morty’s first season, I was skeptical if it could have a second season as strong as it’s first. I was stupid and wrong. Rick and Morty’s second season picked up where season one left off and went to previously unthinkable places, all while keeping the overall arc of the season grounded. When the show went to dark places, it still maintained the humor and always paid off, even if it didn’t look like it would initially. Although I’m bummed that it’s going to be a long wait for season 3, I definitely want Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon to be well rested and ready to spill all kinds of sci-fi ridiculousness up in my face.