Advertisements

DESTINY Review: Dodge This Fate

2014 has become a year of disappointment for AAA games. Bear in mind that AAA isn’t every game released in 2014, but rather the hyped, most publicly visible games released. Destiny, the first FPS from post-Halo Bungie, was hyped for years till its release September 9, 2014. Bungie’s ambition was to create a “Shared world FPS” that would last ten years. A world with increasing content that one may never truly beat it. So the eager public had to wonder if Destiny would become the big game of 2014 many hope it would be? Alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Story

In the future, humanity has finally achieved travel to Mars and discovered a white orb, the size of a small moon, called the Traveler. After somehow bringing the Traveler back to Earth, a golden age is brought forth thanks to the knowledge and technology bestowed by the grace of the Traveler. Lifespans triple, world peace is achieved, and humanity was taught the ways of the light and technology, advancing thousands of years.

Naturally, things are going too well to continue forever, so one day a force known simply as the Darkness came for the albino orb. The resulting cataclysmic war reduced humanity to a single city and the traveler to a severely weakened, comatose state hovering over humanity.

It is now the further future and much of what was learned during the golden age and the resulting war was lost. Many do not even remember the details of the war, how humanity survived the onslaught of the Darkness, or why there are sentient robots called Exo’s.

Your player character is resurrected from the dead by a Ghost, a tiny fragment of the Traveler’s light. You are now a Guardian, a protector of the last city and you have been assigned to patrol the lost vestiges of humanity for lost tech, knowledge, and to eliminate any potential threats to the city.

On paper, the setup seems typical and boring, and it is. NPC’s are treated less as characters and more like vending machines. The four enemy races: Fallen, Hive, Vex, and the Cabal are given so little context with how they relate to themselves and the world at large. Only the Hive is shown to have a direct connection to the Darkness, the way the game presents it the other three just happened to show up after humanity got the collective crap beat out of them.

The environments are curious because they are well designed in that they are distinct enough so you always know where you are but lack any form of environmental storytelling beyond generic dilapidation. As you board enemy ships to kick-a** and chew bubblegum, you never see anything resembling a living area for any of the enemy factions. In fact, you only see one chair between all of them. This may seem petty, but when you are trying to build a living, longstanding universe these are queries and sights you need to oblige or else the world starts to feel fake.

There are digital “grimoire cards” that detail the lore of practically everything in the world of Destiny; in universe design process of the different gun models, details on enemies and so much more. The primary issue is that next to none of this is in the game. No context for enemies like why these four factions are crawling all over the place or why they hate each other but hate you more, no details on the war, nothing. In fact, the game in general is stubborn in telling you anything beyond the point of nonsense.

A seemingly random gynoid out in the ruins of Venus states “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain,” and just tells you to go to Mars. So when she comes back after you slew the threat that she had “no time to explain,” she gives you a gun from arguably the worst weapon category and vanishes, telling you nothing. This exchange is indicative of how the game treats story. As entirely insignificant and to be added later through expansion packs and DLC. There is a problem with this market strategy, namely that you have to care about the story to be motivated enough to spend money to continue it.

Gameplay

The gameplay is the best part of Destiny as well as the instantly recognizable aspect to improve. Gun-play itself is superb, all gun categories have a distinct feel. Stats matter more in this game than many others because in multiplayer your damage output is scaled to the other players. You either get a double jump or a hover jump depending on your class and it is a joy traversing the environment. Your light bestowed powers are useful and very satisfying to use.

On the other hand, the enemies you play against aren’t nearly as thought out. The four factions each have different tactics in theory, but in practice, only the Vex truly stand out. The Fallen lean toward guns while the Hive lean toward melee and darkness-based powers, but their tactics are so similar that you will frequently mix them up.

The Cabal are identified by their Gears of War-like bodies and ludicrous amounts of health and shields. Cabal are the most cautious enemies which has the side effect of making them the easiest group to deal with on lower difficulties because they’re the only group that doesn’t Zerg rush you. On higher difficulties they have truly ridiculous amounts of health and shields to counteract this. How ridiculous? 3-5 headshots with a sniper rifle after the shields are down for everyone above buck private and riot shield grunt.

The Vex are, from a design standpoint, the best enemies in the game bar none. They’re a race of robots who take no cover and rely on short-range teleports to evade damage. What makes them special is twofold; their critical spot is in their stomach as opposed to the head-shots on the other three factions. If you do shoot their heads, they become enraged and forsake teleporting in favor of walking toward you and gunning you down. The ability to manipulate an enemy’s AI based on where you shoot them is a fascinating aspect and something Bungie should continue iterating upon. As things stand, the Vex are the only enemy group with so much as a trace of originality to them.

Also unique to the Vex is the ability to lose them. When they are alerted to your presence than every enemy knows where you are at all times, it becomes practically impossible to maneuver around enemies because they are always pointing and firing their guns at your direction. When it’s just you and a few Vex, you can actually give them the slip and they won’t instantly know where you are — at least until you shoot them again. It’s a crying shame that the Vex deliver the largest Zerg rushes in the game drowning out their unique properties in a sea of lasers and bullets.

Something all enemy groups share are how they handle bosses, that is to say; take one regular enemy, make him physically bigger, have him use two attacks a melee and range attack, and have him swarmed by legions of groupies in identical waves until the boss dies. Every boss fight lasts about 15-20 minutes and higher difficulties only make this longer. This design is lazy, harmful to the game’s lasting appeal, and increasingly boring as you grind bosses for gear with light gear, the only way to increase your level beyond 20. Even the last boss is a let down as what could have been a fight against the shoggoth becomes a Monty Python skit.

Non-boss missions don’t fare much better as they will involve having your ghost investigate something while you fight waves of enemies. Even the patrol missions, where you are given free rein on one of the worlds, either gives you a fetch quest or tell you to slaughter more enemies. There are chests and dead ghosts to find, but chests just give you vendor trash and dead ghosts reward you with access to more grimoire cards on Bungie’s website, not much of a reward for exploring the environment.

PVP arenas are better than their mission based counterpart, so much better that you will inevitably gravitate towards it once the repetitive nature of everything else sets in. It’s fast, it’s flashy and the maps are well-designed for taking advantage of your jump and in subtly directing you toward certain areas so you will never go too long without shooting something. Multi-player maps take place in the four playable areas: Earth, Moon, Venus, and Mars. There is a fifth location, Mercury, that is multi-player only and is currently exclusive to whoever bought the collectors edition.

Graphics

Say what you will about the mission and enemy structure, the environmental artists deserve applause. The levels look beautiful from a technical and artistic point of view. Every local is loaded with many little details and the lighting system is one of the best on the market. You will never feel lost exploring a planet as every area has distinct layouts, obstacles, and architecture. A feat many games past and present struggle with.

Character designs are fairly stock. If your familiar with science fiction than you’ve seen some variant on these designs before. Nothing to get excited about. What is worth mentioning are the cape physics, you will almost always have a cape, cloak, or long coat on and they seldom clip. If you look for it you’ll find clipping but it isn’t painfully obvious, outside of when you ride vehicles.

Sound

The sound is good when you notice its presence. Sound effects are nothing special though having the different alien factions all speak their own language was a nice touch; even if they only speak about three lines. The score is forgettable to the point that you could be forgiven for thinking this game didn’t have a score as it is usually drowned out by gunfire. Weapons sound good with sufficient impact, but that is to be expected.

Overall

Destiny is a disappointment, plain and simple. It has virtue, namely in the form of the Vex and the environment, but the implementation of enemies and the mission structure drag this game into the mud and never lets it surface. You can have fun, mostly in PVP and with friends.

The sad truth is that unless Bungie addresses these flaws and fixes them immediately, then when the hype and fan goodwill inevitably burn out, Destiny will struggle with player retention. This game needs more content, it needs better variety of content, and it needs it now. It needs to stop telling you there is a wide interesting world out there and show you, and simply show you. Destiny’s graphical and technical design is fantastic, but it has a long way to go as far as the actual game is concerned.

2.5 out of 5 stars

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cover image via

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Video Game Reviews

Author:Abdullah

From the tender age of two when my ma put a snes controller in my hand and let me fool around in Super Mario Kart I have been playing video games. I want to share my opinions with people willing to listen. Original I know...

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

4 Comments on “DESTINY Review: Dodge This Fate”

  1. 10/07/2014 at 9:32 AM #

    I agree with everything you’ve said. I do really like the boss battle music though, I find it stands out. Some days I can’t decide whether I hate the Vex or Cabal more lol

  2. 10/07/2014 at 1:15 PM #

    The game struggles with it’s endgame, I’ve noticed. The reasons to come back to get light levels and up your gear seems to make things that frustrate people about this game very obvious. Lack of trading, mindless grinding, pure RNG, etc. Destiny is fun with friends but it has so many good traits that can be improved upon to make the game feel less like what feels like a early access version of a retail game. It will start to feel more complete in time, I’m sure, but what shipped is just what you say it is for some. Disappointing. The level of disappointment varies based on your personal feelings/playstyles. Good review. :)

  3. 10/07/2014 at 9:59 PM #

    I agree that the story elements are in need of some serious improvement but I find the AI to be excellent all around. Pvp is great as noted aside from the lengthy load times, but I love the end game system. Personally it’s a 4/5 for me since it’s a great shooter with really fun systems for co-op play with friends. I keep wondering if the amount of marketing a game receives should have anything to do with the review scores. Every review I’ve read has mentioned it. Who cares if they marketed a lot? Marketing is about making cash…which they did. A review is about gameplay and content irrespective of anything else. “Is this a quality game worth buying and playing?” Seems like the only question worth asking and so far the answer has been a resounding yes, at least for me. Sorry to hear you’re not enjoying the game though!

  4. 10/07/2014 at 11:29 PM #

    Joseph, I did have fun with it, largely because this was the first MMO-like game I ever played for a serious amount of time. I also had some friends to play with. My major gripe was that when I sat down and though about it, i struggled to think of good gameplay points outside of the PVP, and quite frankly it isn’t good enough to sweep everything else under the table. That said I don’t regret my time with the game, i just try to not view it through a rose tinted glass
    That said I am glad to hear you are enjoying the game though I genuinely worry about this title’s long term viability. By the way, no I didn’t mean to imply that you were viewing the game through a distorted lens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: