- Stable Network
- Overly Hyped
- Bland Story
- Online Only
In reviewing Destiny I approached it without the hype machine in mind. I am not looking at the game from a view of what was promised, but what was delivered. This review is also based on just the base game with no add on content included. I tried to highlight the most that I could without giving too much away and without drowning on the little idiosyncrasies that can easily be done on a game of this scale. Enjoy.
There is a story, but unfortunately you just don’t feel very connected to it. You are brought back from the dead and told that the giant sentient bowling ball that came to save us was followed by some bad guys, and they are handing us our buttocks on a platter. There are three groups of bad guys who don’t like each other and it’s your job to take them all out. There is not a motivation beyond that. You do not form any relationships with the blandly voice acted NPCs and they treat you not so much as a person, but as a personal attack dog. By the finish of the base game you are left off in a way that leaves question unanswered and a feeling that there is more to do. It does this however in a way that still feels like you have done something important up to this point. We’ll have to wait and see how the expansions keep the story going.
The player characters give you some freedom of choice, but mostly the choice is only skin deep. You can choose a class, race, sex, customize their face, and later buy different ships and hover bikes. The ship, race, and sex you choose have no effect on your stats. You can buy faster and tougher hover bikes, but this affects the game very little. Why are there no guns on the hover bikes..? You can only see your and others faces when walking around the tower which seems a little pointless.
Your class makes a big difference in your play style. There are three classes who are satisfying different; Titan, Warlock, and Hunter. The Titan is the bulwark character who can absorb the most damage. The Warlock is better at sitting back and attacking from a distance. The Hunter is the sneaky, sneaky turn invisible and stabs you in the back character. If you opt to not play each character to their strength you will have a hard go at it. You get to choose the armor and weapons you want, but let’s face it you are going to go with whatever gives you the best stats so until you hit level 20 and can change the colors, you all run around like the Mighty Morphing Hobo Rangers. To get past level 20 expect lots of repetitious grinding.
One nice touch is that you can do change gear and skills during load screens.
Everything is online in this game. There is no offline play option which will eliminate some people from the experience. The single player maps are gigantic by any standard and you can see where the other players are in the background. There is so much to explore that to cover an entire map above and below ground would take you at least couple of hours each. If you go straight though the levels with minimal distraction you can probably finish the game in about 12 hours which is shorter than most expected. By the end you’ll be hard pressed to defeat the big bad without doing some side missions because your level will be too low. I faced down the final boss at level 18 and found him challenging but not frustrating.
Be cautious if they call you the Wanderer, as you can venture into areas that you are not ready for yet. If you shoot an enemy and their force field just says Resistant or Immune, then you should come back to these guys. Enemy AI is usually competent; they will usually dodge and seek cover. Too often they will stand there and let you shoot them repeatedly with no reaction. They are also easily fooled when go from one side of cover to another.
The multiplayer is more similar to Halo than Call of Duty. The futuristic weapons and personal shields definitely show where Bungie’s roots are. Headshots are vital to beating out your opponent in a direct firefight. Sniper Rifles work well from a distance and the maps are mostly large enough that they feel like a relevant weapon to carry. In close quarters the shotgun is absolutely menacing, but lacks any power with distance between you and your enemies. Grenades and rocket launchers can satisfying pulverize multiple adversaries, but if you miss the reload times are killer. The special powers can be a game changer in a battle. Sticking together is best practice but not too close as a well placed explosive or special attack can take you all out at once. There are not a lot of options when it comes to multiplayer, but what is there is well grounded.
Combat is fantastically solid and unpredictable. When you come upon a group of baddies you’re not really sure if the five you see are the only ones, or if you are about to disturb a hornet’s nest. Adding an Ultra or Major enemy soldier to the mix can cause you to drastically change your attack approach. Falling back and regrouping is not just a good idea, it is sometimes necessary to stay alive. In boss battles, you must use your terrain to your advantage. Using high ground and cover works best and reveals the only negative to the AI, the enemies can be a little daft from time to time. While you can sometimes exit a doorway to escape and recover, be watchful as they will follow you. For the first couple of bosses you can linger in the entrance and whittle them down from a distance, but as you progress this tactic becomes less useful until ultimately it fails you completely.
Simply put, the game is gorgeous. Levels are giant and well detailed up to 1080p. They believably look like there was a civilization at each of them at one point. The lighting effects are amazing. The character models are intricately detailed. Even with that and the action going on, my XBOX One experienced no slowdown. For the graphics to be this good with so much action going at the same time, Bungie has raised the bar on presentation. Yes other games have looked this good, but not with so many other things going at the same time.
The music is a good fit with all the other elements. It does feel a little over dramatic at times and definitely has a Halo vibe to it. Granted that is being nit picky, but after about 40 hours of playing it really starts to stand out. The sound effects are spot on with the action. Explosions and special attacks thunder around you and the gunfire from each gun sounds believable. I would have liked at least one “pew pew” gun. Just to have something to complain about.
Unfortunately, there has there been a lot of hype on this game and it does not quite live up to all of it. It’s not the best game ever created, but with so few flaws it is well above average. A few flaws does not stop the game from being a technological feat. The audio and visuals are both top notch. Since its launch any network issues have been almost nonexistent. The game play is as solid as it gets, but if you want a maxed out character then expect an inordinate amount of grinding. The variety of game play is on par if not better than many other games in or out of this genre.
Haters are going to hate, but many people who are complaining got sucked into the hype. They are complaining more about what they thought they were going to get, rather than the game that they got. It is a beautiful looking online first person shooter with the customizable characters, huge maps, and a plethora of play options, all while maintaining solid game play. If you like first person shooters and have a good internet connection this is definitely a buy.