Ah, 2015… it feels like so long ago, and I suppose, for some, it was. For me, (Nick), it was when I switched jobs and switched states, so it was a big year of change and upheaval. In the long run, it’s been great for me, but it did have an unfortunate side effect of making it so I was always short on space… and that eventually led to me giving up my LEGO collection entirely. But hey, back then, there was all kinds of great stuff coming out.
For this series, we’re going to walk through the years and go through some of the touchpoints that we’ve been through in the big focuses of our site… movies, video game, and of course… LEGO.
Ace’s Pick: At some point I put down the 3DS and started playing more on the maligned Wii U, and that point was sometime in 2015 when this gem came out:
Holy smokes was it a great game. The mechanics of killing opponents were nothing I’ve ever seen in a shooter. Not only was the gameplay fun and unique, the in-game culture, the language, and the aesthetics of it all showed just how much work Nintendo invested in making this original IP stand out. And it paid off when it won multiple awards that year. It remains one of my favorite franchises.
Eric’s Pick: As Reggie Fils-Aimé said – “If it’s not fun, why bother?” There’s obviously a lot of counterpoints about that, but I get the spirit of what he’s saying.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is…an incredible game. The story is a complete mess, floating between messy and, uh, cringey. The open world is kinda empty, and while I’d say Kojima could have shrinken it down, it also feels really legitimate.
But the very fundamentals, the moment-to-moment gameplay is top-notch and the absolute freedom has never been match by anything. ANYTHING. I don’t care, Breath of the Wild, you didn’t come close. By, like, Mission 5, the amount of tools you have at your disposal is astounding. You can sneak into a base all stealthily via cardboard box. Or shoot out a light, distract a guard, and move while he’s distracted. Carefully tranquilize every guard and fulton extract them away. You could use D-Dog, your half-wolf, half-unknown, eyepatched friend, to bark really loud over in one place while you run the other way. You could use inflatable versions of yourself to distract guards. Or a charged up stun prosthetic arm. Or just go in shooting everyone. It ain’t stealthy, but it’ll work.
Of course, you could just use a sniper rifle from barely inside the mission area to pick off the target, and then you’re done in, like, three minutes.
The amount of systems in the game that work together to provide unique experiences is completely crazy. If you take too long, the shift could change and more guards could show up, which could mess you up if you’re going the tranquilizer route. But, if you checked the time and then parked your horse, D-Horse (yeah, I know) down the road where you know the car carrying guards will be coming from, that’ll buy you another five or so seconds. The more guards you kill, the more geared up they get, to the point where they have basically impenetrable body armor, and then you have to get really creative.
Some games that offer “freedom”, like Fallout (sorry, Nick), never really encourage you to change up your strategy. MGSV forces it, and it’s all the better for it, because there’s so much crazy stuff you could go with, and so many ways you can approach the missions.
Death Stranding, which I haven’t talked about on the site yet (and may not), offers a similar freedom, but it’s all focused on walking from point A to point B, and therefore the route itself never really changes, just the tools you use to get there. It’s a bit more restricted, but at the same time more refined.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bloodborne as well. Everything about 2011’s Dark Souls has been transferred over to this new game and elevated – the atmosphere, the combat, the design. There’s a few issues, as with every game, but it’s an extremely solid – and very difficult – addition to the Soulsborne family. It’s a shorter, but more refined experience.
Nick’s Pick: I’m writing this before Ace, but I’m going to guess he puts Splatoon on this list. There are some truly great games that came out in 2015… Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was Kojima at his best and Konami at their worst (for forcing him out, focusing on gambling machines, and shorting the game development). Undertale is one of the best, if not the best, indie game ever made. Bloodborne and The Witcher 3 are both classics that I wish I could have gotten in to more than I did.
Bethesda is a hot mess of a company that lies to our faces and is more than willing to destroy the shreds of its reputation for short term gains. Fallout 76 is a tire fire of a microtransaction front, and I have zero faith in whatever they come with next. Fallout 4 wasn’t a perfect game… it had great side quests and a messy main quest. The villages wouldn’t stay saved, Preston Garvey made me want to go evil and turn him into jerky… but I’ve still spent hundreds of hours in this game. The base building system, combined with mods on the PC, were fantastic, and it has a charm that I doubt Bethesda can ever produce again.
Ace’s Pick: This was a tough year to pick from as there were several stand out films that I still enjoy watching to this day. In spite of the current state of the franchise, I’m going with this one:
This was the first movie after the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm. Yes, this was more or less a reboot of A New Hope, but I’m okay with that. We’ve seen what George Lucas can do with the prequels and the constant edits of the original trilogy when given 100% control. It was time to pass the baton to someone else. If we ignore the majority of TLJ and assume ROS never happened, this movie is still enjoyable and fun to watch.
Eric’s Pick: Aaron Sorkin is my favorite writer, and Danny Boyle is one of my favorite directors, so when they came together for Steve Jobs…
It’s an incredibly well-written movie. It’s not 100% accurate to life, nor do the actors look exactly like the people they’re portraying, but it’s a movie. It’s elevated reality. I love both of the other two guys’ picks, but Steve Jobs is the only movie that could take place in an empty box and I would be completely enraptured. Hell, it basically does.
Nick’s Pick: There were several different contenders for the top movie in this year. The Martian was basically engineering porn, and I loved it (the book was good too). This was the year we got Star Wars: The Force Awakens, our first movie in years that set off the current renaissance in Star Wars (seriously, it’s so good to be a fan right now, toxic manbabies notwithstanding). Creed somehow managed to reinvent and revitalize a movie series that was played out after the underrated Rocky Balboa, and Inside Out gave us one of the best Pixar movies ever. There was, however, one movie released in 2015 that remains one of the most stunning visual achievements ever in film…
This movie is a spectacle and a visual feast. It may be called Mad Max, but it was the story of Furiosa and the Wives, and she was one of the most kick-ass characters in modern cinema. It showed the power of practical effects, and was likely a singular event in cinema we won’t see again.
Ace’s Pick: And the pick goes to:
I had my copy built as part of a speed build. That may or may not explain why the cars keep hitting the side of the platform. Still, it’s one set I haven’t dismantled or even let dust collect on. The engineering is impressive and as long as you can get past the freakishly LOUD motor, it’s soothing to watch the wheel turn. It’s probably the only set I’ve considered buying an aftermarket light kit for.
Eric’s Pick: Alright, my dark period of Lego was over. It only lasted a year, but I came back swinging with:
This is the only set I’ve never dismantled. It’s a solid build for sure: it’s large, looks impressive, and it’s really fun to swoosh around. I’m not as big a fan of Return of the Jedi as Nick, but I’ve always enjoyed the scene when they descend down to Endor. Check out Nick’s review from back in 2015 – it pretty much lines up with how I feel.
Nick’s Pick: I was very tempted to pick the UCS TIE FIghter in this spot… I reviewed it for our site, and loved it. It was somehow swooshable, despite its size, and just drew your eye on the shelf. It was also one of the first sets that I sold when I decided to get out of collecting LEGO. I only have a handful of LEGO sets still put together… the UCS R2-D2, the Lunar Lander I reviewed earlier this year, and 21303 WALL-E.
One of the best Ideas sets ever made, even with the flaws that required a service pack to fix the headbanger fun, he just looks so sweet and innocent sitting on a shelf. What this build did so well was to capture the wonder of the character in the movie.