Destiny – Not destined for greatness

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THERE was a lot of hype for Destiny but then that was to be expected. It’s the first big non-Halo property Bungie studios have produced since their mega-franchise, it had voice acting from current ‘it’ actor Peter Dinklage and the prospect of having a high quality first-person shooter that doubles as a massively multiplayer experience. So it’s with great disappointment that I tell you all, it’s good. It’s as good a game as you might expect Bungie to make but within the first few hours, it’s never great. It is basically Halo with a bit of Mass Effect, a touch of Borderlands and an interactive MMO hub world.

The game begins with a standard introduction to the world of the game. Earth is ravaged, aliens are attacking anyone who lands, you are a mysterious figure who has lost their memory but play the key in a greater fight between the Guardians and the aliens. The plot is relatively simple but suffers from weak voice acting that struggle to enliven a relatively generic script.

There are some recognisable favourites from sci-fi past like Firefly‘s Nathan Fillion and Fringe’s Lance Reddick who try to do something with what their given, but big name draw and for some the major selling point was Dinklage. He just sounds bored reading such sparkling dialogue as the now infamous ‘that wizard came from the moon’. A poor performance all round on that front. It also doesn’t help that with some of the less dynamic cut scenes, there isn’t an option (or at least not one I could find) to skip them and get straight to the action.

Gameplay-wise, it handles well. The shooting feels like there is weight to the weapons, the range of customisation and play styles of different classes is fun but not too complicated, it all just feels like very little is new. If you’ve played any of the games listed above, it will feel all too familiar. The third level involving a goon summoning wizard plays well on its Horror style but seems a little too similar to Dead Space. Even the music, menus and hubworld style feel like Skyrim in space. That said, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from it’s ‘greatest hits of video game’ stylings especially in some particularly tense confrontations and well co-ordinated boss fights.

The multiplayer aspects of the game are it’s real trump card. At almost any point during a mission, you can find other players dropping in and small community missions start, usually involving defending from waves of enemies. The enemy design itself is nice if unspectacular though it does have some very fine and intimidating boss designs. The ability to engage in these brief co-operative encounters really expands the universe and makes it feel more alive than simply a first person shooter with a market you can interact with strangers in. The hub itself is functional but suffers from weird gravity issues and poor user animation especially on an increasingly frustrating floaty jumping system and lack of any facial dynamics.

In the end, it would be very difficult for a first person shooter to reinvent the wheel at this point. Maybe all you want from a game is something fun and I will readily admit that there are not many more satisfying things to do in a video game than a perfectly executed headshot. It is far from a perfect experience. It’s like a Michael Bay film, there are explosions and fight scenes galore, the story is paper thin and lifeless but that’s not the reason you should buy this game. But then again, for the price of this you could probably pick up both Borderlands games plus DLC and still have change. Even adding Peter Dinklage can’t beat that for value.

Disclaimer: This preview is based on a pre-release beta build so details may change before full release.

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