Considered on its own, Starships is a little tactical treat. Give it a few hours of your day and you'll be lifted by its modular pieces and its battlefield puzzles. But do not linger: It simply does not have the strength to punch through gravity and carry you to the stars.
And Hardline could be better. There are shades of it here, now and then. Games in general can be better. But they never will be until we raise our expectations. When even the best of us feels limited to writing "narrative rosaries strung with beads of pure chaos," how do the least of us stand a chance?
I realize now that I wish that this game could make me feel like an outsider in a strange town: That feeling is America. And The Crew has none of the licentious anticipation for the fictional pile-up, nor any of the guilty pleasure of rubbernecking—American pastimes, both. The missions never just say "Get to Wyoming," and then let me plot my own foolhardy, American route there. They don't even let you look at the map. Just trust the waypoints and go.