Video game review: Destiny (PS3, PS4, XBOX 360, XBOX One)
Although it was “only a video game” the Halo series made a significant cultural impact on the millennial generation when it was released in 2001. This Sci-Fi shooter was a breakout hit like Star Wars was in the 80’s and put Microsoft on the map by giving people a reason to want the first Xbox. Six years later, Halo 3 broke all records and generated a staggering $170 million in 24 hours upon its release in 2007. Created and developed by Bungie Inc. this franchise has garnered $3.4 billion to date on game sales alone.
That’s why fans worldwide were desperate for any details about Bungie’s secret game entitled “Project Tiger” when artwork and plot details were leaked in November 2012. Lead Writer Joseph Staten ambiguously announced his plan was to “build a universe” and that the game would “take on a life of its own”. With a budget of $500 million dollars anything seemed possible.
When it arrived on September 9, 2014 it was called Destiny.
The game itself is told from a “mythic science fiction” perspective which should be familiar to Halo fans. This setting is reminiscent of themes from movies such as Blade Runner and Star Wars depicting a dystopian society that is able to star-travel but has recently suffered a major setback called “The Collapse”.
You are the last defender of humanity known as a “Guardian” which is basically a Jedi, and it’s your job to discover why all these aliens are attacking the last city on earth as you learn to harness “The Light” which is basically the Force.
The character flies around to different planets fighting alien hordes, doing missions, and saving the day. It’s pretty average stuff as far as first person shooters go but Bungie attempted to up the ante by blending MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) elements such as in-depth character customization, diverse weaponry, and a shared world environment.
The programming wizards at Bungie wanted to make a hybrid game by mating World of Warcraft together with Halo for the ultimate nerdgasmic experience but this baby has been mostly a disappointment; alienating many in the process. A half billion dollar freak of nature in fact.
Although the graphics are stunning and the art direction is fantastic, hardcore fans of the Halo series are angry with the length of the game. An entire play through of Destiny can be as quick as 6 hours and the majority of gamers expect more for the hefty price tag of $69.99.
Your character can be one of three classes: Titan, Warlock or Hunter which in theory create a Rock, Paper, Scissor balance. The seasoned gamer may expect drastically different stories and gameplay from each class but will find fairly generic abilities and with slightly different flavours. At least the online PVP portions of the game are good.
When the story mode is over Bungie is expecting gamers to continue to search for increasingly powerful weapons and gear in raiding parties called “Strikes” utilizing the MMO aspect of the game. Sadly the most efficient way to upgrade your gear is by ‘farming’ in predetermined locations: killing the same enemies over and over as they spawn on a set schedule.
Not exactly what was promised in 2012. Even worse, you can spend hours or days looking for gear that is unusable for your character. That might not be so bad if you could trade with other players but you can’t. You cannot even exchange items with others.
A friend of mine said that he was “hoping for a MMO version of Mass Effect” when he bought the game but in retrospect “it’s not”. A fundamental problem with Destiny is that someone will be disappointed whether they are FPS twitch gamers or RPG number crunching stat-mongers. Casual gamers may be entertained.
On a bright note, the entire world agrees that the soundtrack for Destiny is absolutely phenomenal. It was written and scored by Bungie composer Marty O’Donnell and recorded at Abbey Road studios with the help of Sir Paul McCartney. Can’t beat that, really.
All in all Destiny is an overly ambitious attempt by Bungie who under-delivered on promises to create a new universe – proof that there are some things that money cannot buy. The conspiracy theories of the internet have claimed that parent company Activision will milk this cash cow by selling DLC (downloadable content) over the next ten years in $20 increments.
Destiny tries to be the Chief of all genres but ends up being the Master of none. (There’s a Halo pun in there somewhere).
Pros: Stunning visuals, pleasing aesthetic, huge variety of weapons and gear, epic soundtrack, PVP.
Cons: Short story mode/campaign, repetitive gameplay, monotonous farming, disappointing and insulting reward system, RNG, lack of trade, lack of variety of gun models.