If you wanted to be uncharitable, you could voice the suspicion that a great many baseball caps were turned backwards in the echoing board room where this project was greenlit, but with the campaign done and the city freshly filled with challenges, I don't really feel like being uncharitable. Beneath the glorious tech, and once the writing relaxes a little, Sunset Overdrive's wonderfully lurid and heartfelt - a bit like playing an old 4AD album sleeve. If you get that reference, you'll probably get this, too.
Civilization has always had something to say about this stuff (and civilisation has always had something to say about this stuff) but Beyond Earth goes further than ever, suggesting that even if we do eventually live on Pluto, the distractions will have joined us there, and will probably have multiplied. When we get into space, the real danger - and the real wonder - will be the fact that we have brought ourselves along.
The Temple of Osiris is a welcome throwback, and for the five or six hours it took me to barrel through the campaign, the rest of the world blinked away as the sands swept in and the ancient machinery started to turn. As with Osiris, I'm not sure Lara's reassemblage has gone entirely to plan, but the spirit remains intact - and the spirit is still strangely powerful.
For a game I've complained about a lot, I was pretty engaged with it at three in the morning yesterday, of course, shoot-'em-up headache setting in and an annulus of empty teacups starting to form. The problem, ultimately, is a philosophical one. I'm not sure if Lucid really gets the mentality behind this series, and that makes for a perfectly serviceable shooter when the lineage requires something more.
While Valiant Hearts struggles to make sense of itself as a game, in its odd, playful innocence and in its focus on four friends (and a dog) it at least offers a fleeting human perspective on a new kind of war that turned out to be far, far worse in its mechanised violence than anybody was quite expecting.
These issues aside, Vanguard's created a decent blaster which offers a couple of moments of genuine bullet-dodging glory: Halo's touch-screen debut is good-looking, colourful, and fun. It's all rather bittersweet, really. If Spartan Assault was terrible, nobody would ever have to know about it, since the combination of release platforms makes it a bit of a curio from the off. In the end, it's actually pretty entertaining stuff. Here's hoping it eventually gets ported around a little.
Sadly, the biggest problem with this whole package may be that Arrowhead has already made a truly great Gauntlet tribute anyway, and it was Magicka. There was a game with the freedom to choose its own first principles, while still having Gauntlet's mean-spirited playfulness baked into it. The difference, I suspect, is between being creatively inspired by the spirit and ethos of a legendary design, and being cast as a kind of well-intentioned caretaker.