After seeing what Freestyle Games has done, Rock Band's enormous library, and the promise of making it available across releases feels like a crutch by comparison, tying that franchise to its established model. I'll still hop back to Rock Band to play drums, but right now, Guitar Hero Live is where you'll find me clanking away, waiting for the next time I get to perform Ida Maria's "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked."
Warhammer: End Times — Vermintide gets so many things right, and its designers have made enough smart decisions about how to deviate from the Left 4 Dead, that it makes the difficulty knee-capping and technical mishaps all the more disappointing. It's absolutely worth a look if you're looking for something to do with friends and love slay hordes of monsters. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself quitting earlier than you might want to.
Blizzard promises that this isn't the end of StarCraft, and there are already plans for more balance updates and story campaigns. And I'll probably end up playing more of it, just to see how those plans play out. I still think I like the series' characters and world enough to check in with them from time to time. I might even go back and play through the whole series in the future. But at this point, StarCraft will have to find a newer, weirder place to be in if it really wants me back.
The constant pull to repeat a set of activities to see numbers go up permeates every game like Devilian. Even now, I'm thinking about running a few more dungeons and seeing if I can't get some Heroic gear out of it. But almost any game with loot will make you want more of it, so hitting that part of the brain's reward center isn't enough to make for a good game.
Controller incongruities aside, Amplitude works as both a look at what rhythm games used to be and as testbed for some interesting new ideas (even if they don't all work). It doesn't offer a new instrument you can pretend to play or change how we think about music games, but it doesn't have to do any of that. It's content to give you a solid, lasting sense of satisfaction from pushing buttons in the right order and hearing some good music.
But that idea has so much potential, and when it's implemented eloquently I'm uplifted by it. When it gives you tasks that complement your powers, Gravity Rush transcends its mediocrity through the sheer power of flight. But then it tumbles back down into complacency, leaving me to wistfully pine for the skies again.
Divorced from the need to spotlight its commentary or be clever, Superhot's shootouts make its case better than its narrative layers ever could. Its methodical take on shooter combat forces you to linger on the consequences of your actions without saying a word. And that's all it needed to be. But when it tries to connect the dots for you, it feels overbearing and self-congratulatory, diluting the potency of its novelty.
Playing by the rules can still be fun, and despite my misgivings I'm interested in seeing more Hitman in the coming months. Its lavish environments allow for enough outcomes and stories that I can't dismiss its decision to trade real freedom for bespoke scenarios out of hand. And most importantly, the illusion it offers of getting in and out without being seen and on your own terms lingers just long enough to be worthwhile. I'm just disappointed it was an illusion in the first place.