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Destiny [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Destiny is a really good game that shys just short of true greatness by being a fairly standard feeling FPS game at its core. It has the potential to be a really great game franchise down the road, but the current iteration is held back by a lot of little things that annoy slightly, like taking a lovely family vacation but not being able to ignore the mosquitos. 

The Pros: 

+ Solid mechanics

+ Addictive 'bread-crumb' style gameplay

+ Large, expansive scenes to explore

+ Plenty of varity in game modes and play styles

The Cons: 

- Derivitive feeling story and characters

- Nagging UI/flow issues

- Character fatigue online (not enough customization)

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

The amount of hype that Destiny has been able to generate, for a new IP, is simply unprecedented.

Some of that is natural; the fans saw something new and exciting, and they flocked to it.

Some of that is manufactured. The amount that was spent on marketing the game was a little beyond ridiculous as well… But it all in all it’s paid off.

Bungie has made over a half a billion dollars with the production of Destiny, which is sure to be just the first in a new series franchise that we’re going to be playing for the next decade or so…

I mention all of this because in that big mess of marketing and excitement, the opinion of one (and for the record folks that’s what a review is: an opinion) doesn’t really amount to much.

The people interested in Destiny likely lined up at midnight, or launch morning, to get their copies. Launch day my Facebook and Twitter feeds were bombarded with posts of people either playing the game, anxiously waiting for their copy to show up, or lamenting being at work not playing the game they had already purchased the night before.

All of this is superfluous for a review, I understand that… but the reason I bring it up is this: With all the hype, marketing, and the sales that game has already done we have an unprecedented opportunity for me to say whatever the hell I want about the game. I can be completely honest with my opinion, entirely without fear.

So, here’s the one-liner from Casey White: “It’s a great first chapter in what is sure to be a long-run franchise from the group that created the money-making machine that is Halo.”

Destiny is a whole hell of a lot of fun. It evokes a special blend between the addictive nature of MMO and FPS gaming.

 It’s a prime example of ‘bread-crumb gaming’ stringing you along from minute to minute and hour-to-hour with the quest for new gear, new experiences, exploration, and trying out new class features or weapons. All of this while being a more than competent first-person shooter, with a fairly competitive multiplayer experience.

Too many hours of my life to count have been stolen away from me this week as I put pretty much everything else I had to do on the back-burner in order to get my character a little bit further each day (even after hitting the games ‘level-cap’). The quest for new gear, the desire to try out new modes, or to simply explore the vast planetscapes offered by the dev team is absolutely worthy of the praise that they have been receiving post-launch.

But the best thing about Destiny, the mash-up they’ve opted for with MMO gaming and competitive FPS, is also potentially its biggest stumbling point.

For those that have invested time in MMOs, a lot of little things don’t feel quite as good as they should. It’s not quite as easy to use, or ‘intuitive’, as it perhaps should be. Compared to games like World of Warcraft, or more recently WildStar, the menu systems, inventory, and customization of the character all could stand to be improved in the next iteration of the franchise.

This is why I say that this feels like a really good first chapter. The game is pretty solid, but there’s still a lot of room for Bungie to hit their stride.  Destiny is the first entry in a franchise that is likely to go along way, and we can expect a lot of improvements ahead (via either the expansions for the game, or subsequent sequels).

Though people won’t really want the obvious comparison to Halo, I have to say it’s the most apt analogy that I can make for Bungie’s new franchise. When Halo originally launched I felt the potential, but the game seemed a little clumsy and unrefined. The game still needed to mature. I think most people would agree that Halo 3 is kind of where everything was locked down and established (though some may have a personal love for Halo or Halo 2, we’re talking about the mechanics and structure of the game here).

Destiny has a lot of little things that are holding it back from being a truly great game.

Menu navigation, lack of any kind of trade-system, unskippable cut-scenes (regardless of how many times you’ve played the same mission), things just feeling a little less… intuitive than they should, these are the problems that on their own seem a little nit-picky, but as the game goes on you feel like the weight of their combination brings the game as whole just shy of true greatness.

Not only that, I have to say that I feel that the story is a little bit derivative.

Again, I appreciate that Bungie is probably looking to get away from Halo at some level, but the average gamer has to acknowledge the similarities. Like the fact that you’re main character is some sort of legendary hero that travels the galaxy with an AI companion who acts as the game’s deus ex machina (opening doors, hacking computers, basically being a damn Swiss-army knife of solutions for any technological barrier the game throws your way).

Then there’s the fact that you’re also acting as an intermediary for warring alien factions. Though, to Bungie’s credit, they didn’t stretch out the introduction of the various players in the story over three separate games.

Not to mention that a lot of the mechanics fill similar to the end-results of the Halo franchise evolution; specifically the customizable competitive-multiplayer characters abilities, weapons, etc.

The part where I think the internet and I will disagree (other than me making the comparisons in the first place) is that this isn’t a bad thing.

The story being a completely original, or the game’s core mechanic being radically different than anything else out there doesn’t automatically count as a win for a new IP.

It’s important to remember what your fans loved about your previous works, and it’s exciting to see Bungie is keeping some of what made them so wildly successful in the first place.

There’s an old writer saying that goes: “Write what you know” and I feel like devs changing that to “Make what you know” doesn’t seem like an all-together terrible design mentality.

Again, just as Halo matured and evolved before, I think we’re going to see Destiny evolve as it continues to grow as a franchise in the years to come. I say this not only because the game sold over a half a billion in retail copies of the game and it would be stupid not to keep that train rolling, but because there is that potential that I referenced earlier.

Destiny plays well, for the most part. The story might not be the most original, but it’s engaging enough to keep you on track as you head out into the solar system and explore your way through mission objectives. It is a good game. It just might not be the perfect 10 that a lot of people have tricked themselves into believing it was going to be because they got caught up in the hype.

 

It is the definition, in my opinion, of a really good game. It might shy just south of true greatness but my personal feeling on the matter is that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what Bungie has in store for us with this new universe, story, and game play that they have unleashed on the teeming masses of console video game fans.