It’s a very modern interpretation of what Halo can be, pulling from the kinds of games that are as big today as Halo was when it first launched. Rather that feeling like a Greatest Hits of modern video gaming, though, it still feels distinctly like Halo. Meanwhile, its potential to grow and change seems like it will have a much more lasting impact than any amount of bopping aliens in the head. Maybe “combat evolved” just means something new now.
Really, Guardians Of The Galaxy is just like the ragtag space heroes it revolves around. It has a lot of messy bits that overcomplicate things, it lets interpersonal conflicts get in the way of its action and its story, and you may get a good laugh from its characters one second and then wish they would leave you alone the next. But, again, like the Guardians, it works because of those messy bits, not despite them.
Lightsaber combat is rarely as fun or interesting as it is in this game, and the plot hits some tragic notes that the bigger Star Wars stories tend to skip over—the Jedi Purge got a sorrowful montage in Revenge Of The Sith and the Rebels cartoon dealt with Jedi having to hide who they are, but this is one of the first times a mainstream piece of modern Star Wars canon has emphasized just how horrifying it was for the Good Guys to suddenly realize they had been totally played and that the Bad Guys had already won. It took a long time, but EA finally figured out how to put the Star Wars rights to good use.
Rather than just pushing the control stick forward, though, walking in Death Stranding involves navigating difficult terrain or finding ways to cross deep rivers without getting swept away and losing the gear on your backpack. These navigation challenges constitute the major bulk of the game’s actual gameplay, and force you to reckon with its connective themes on an extremely personal, almost-granular level.
By the end, you’ll know what brought Jesse to the FBC, how and why The Hiss have taken over, and why Jesse talks to the you in her head. It’s a shame that you have to work a little harder than necessary to get those answers, but Remedy has once again managed to put out a game that is so much better than the sum of its parts.
State Of Decay 2 occasionally feels like the perfect “podcast game,” the sort of experience best served by shutting your brain off and checking off items on a to-do list while gradually improving your little community. But its best moments don’t click when playing that way.