-Platforms: Nintendo 64, Wii U, Wii
Nothing says winter fun quite like flying down the side of a snowy mountain on a thin piece of polyethylene. If you don't happen to have the time or money for that though, there are certainly games out there that can substitute the experience for you. 1080° Snowboarding is one such option that just recently became available on the Wii U eShop. This Nintendo 64 classic lets you enjoy lots of powdery fun while racing, tricking, or going head to head against a friend.
-Platforms: Steam, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Lost Planet is the snowpocalyptic Capcom third-person shooter from 2007. The game takes place on a desolate popsicle of a planet called EDN III. As a so-called snow pirate, your mission is to overthrow the corrupt NEVEC corporation and make the planet safe for human colonization. Along the way you will do battle with corporate soldiers, other snow pirates, and most of all, giant alien bugs. The game feels a lot like Starship Troopers with snow conditions (and mechs). How awesome is that? There's also an online versus multiplayer mode. So, if you can find some friends to play with, it can be a great way to kill several hours, away from the frigid temperatures outside.
-Platforms: Steam, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
It is probably safe to say, without hyperbole, that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is hands down one of the greatest video games ever made. The same could arguably said of the previous entry, Oblivion, but Skyrim took just about everything that was great about that game and cranked it up to 11 (quite literally, considering it was released on 11/11/11). Those familiar with Elder Scrolls lore will know that Skyrim is set in the mountainous, northernmost region of the land of Tamriel (around which all the games in the series take place). As such, quite a few of the locations in the game are pretty white and icy (much more so than in any other Elder Scrolls title). That makes Skyrim the perfect place to visit this time of year. And the game is so well-made, addictive, and content-heavy, you won't just invest hours into it, you could conceivably spend the entire winter season there.
-Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
Far Cry 4 is like the wintry counterpart to Far Cry 3. Whereas 3 took place on and around a tropical island with lots of summery, beachy things to see and do, Far Cry 4 takes place high in the Himalayas, and features a lot of the things you might expect to find in that much colder climate. While it is true that Far Cry 4 plays a heck of a lot like Far Cry 3 did, that's not really a bad thing when you consider how much fun they both are. The strikingly different setting also helps to add some fresh new experiences to the formula. And nothing says snowy Far Cry fun quite like taking a snowmobile from an enemy soldier and then using it to plow through a group of his buddies.
-Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Of all the winter sports out there, hockey is undoubtedly the most obvious and most popular. This list would absolutely be incomplete without a hockey game on it. And as far as hockey games go, there is but one. NHL 16. The only game in town. A bit sad actually, as the days of stiff competition between EA and 2K's annual hockey releases was really a better time for everyone. Luckily though, EA still seems to be putting out some pretty quality efforts most years, even without any competition. Although having more options would always be preferable, you could actually do a lot worse than NHL 16.
-Developer: Crystal Dynamics
-Platforms: Xbox One, Steam
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the most recent game to appear on this list. It was also one of the 12 titles that made it onto our 12 Best Games of 2015 list. (So you know it's good.) Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place primarily in Siberia. (So you know it's cold.) As Lara Croft, you will brave the elements and rugged terrain of the region while trying to overcome deadly traps, vicious predators and a dangerous paramilitary organization, all standing between you and your unrelenting obsession with exploration, discovery, and the indiscriminate raiding of tombs. Basically, the game is simply the perfect mix of action, adventure, and snow.
Well, that concludes the list. Did you warm up to it in the end or did it leave you feeling a little cold? Are there any good games that I missed? What titles do you like to play this time of year? Let us know in the comments.
[Images: Crystal Dynamics, Nintendo, Capcom, Bethesda, Ubisoft, EA]