Saturday, 13 September 2014

DESTINY - Gamertroll Review - Xbox One (ver. rvd), Xbox360, PS4, PS3

Destiny is a highly polished game, lets get that out of the way. The art direction is a marvel, making for a terrific atmosphere only complemented further by a soundtrack which is second to... well, Halo at least. It is good though, choir and all. Of course Destiny has cost $500 Million to create so you'd expect presentation to be 'good'.
Once the thrilling introduction sequence is behind you, It won't take long before you find yourself in a shootout and it's then that you'll realise Destiny plays exactly like Halo. And Gamertroll does mean EXACTLY. Right down to the good old slightly too easy but satisfying head shots. This is a good and bad thing. Good because Halo is spectacular. Bad because Destiny isn't Halo. It's supposed to be a 'new' game.

That's just the beginning of
an endless list of intrusively uncanny similarities. Character classes and skills are an extension of the power abilities Bungie introduced in their last multiplayer focused Halo outing, 'Halo reach'. The floating 'Ghosts', your A.I. assistants in Destiny are clearly the bastard children of Cortana and Guilty spark. You'll be rushed by invisible sword wielding enemies and realize that they're just Golden Elites in a new guise. Shotguns will still feel like your firing rock salt (shottys were never Bungie's strong suit). You'll find enemy classes, command hierarchies and A.I. will be very familiar.. Ah.. sod it, if there's a point where duplicity pays off it's here. Reproducing this aspect of Halo is no bad thing, enemy diversity and behavior was, after all one of Halo's greatest strengths and so it is also with Destiny.

However much Gamertroll tries to impress on you how close Destiny is to Halo, nothing will prepare you for the overwhelming sense of Deja vu. You'll even find large red box canisters lying around exactly like the Covenant weapons supply boxes found in every Halo game. The level design is samey too, in both look and feel, sometimes you will stop dead in your tracks and swear your playing a level from Halo 2 with different textures. It feels like returning from a holiday only to find somebody has re-wallpapered your bedroom.

Gamertroll likes to be reminded of Destiny's great gaming heritage but doesn't want to see it at the expense of nothing new. There in lies one of the greatest drawbacks with Destiny, it's constantly referencing a game it's not quite as good as. Whisper it.. once you get past the fabulous new graphics, it's all a tad derivative.

On the plus side, in a hardware generation plagued with games that hardly look better than their last gen versions I can happily say that Destiny is a game that comfortably escapes that criticism.

Thanks in no small part to it's perfectly applied Vector shadows, lens flare and superior firework pyrotechnics, Destiny topples Titanfall from it's position as best looking of the current generation shooters. Destiny takes things to another level and draws a line in the sand for graphics. It's release now marks the moment where the last generation's iterations are really struggling to keep up.

In regard to the campaign. you'll acquire your own ship that does nothing more than look nice on the menus and act as a taxi taking you back and forth between mapped game locations. That's good because Open-world goodness is best right? Maybe. For good or bad, Destiny is part Open-world or at least sandbox in nature. There's even a location you can go to play that the all important multiplayer. Although the multiplayer element is something only time will reveal as successful or not, suffice to say Gamertroll observes that it's good...ish. Nobody likes to be killed by a higher-level equipment and only time will tell if the online community takes to higher level players having better advantage.

Something that puts somewhat of a damper on proceedings is the niggling suspicion that Destiny is just a modular platform from which to drip, drip, drip overpriced content to the gamer from yet another game that hasn't enough meat on it right out of the box. Destiny isn't as big as a Halo game, if you don't count the repetition and farming it's about third of the size. The order of the day here is farm farm farm. Rinse and repeat. With many missions the only variation is a different mission voice over. "Gamertroll you have just received an additional mission over the radio from Captain lazy developer."
Let's hope that the future DLC will beef up the game properly. Shame to have to pay again to get a decent dose.

Whilst your getting your wallet out, get ready also to stand around seeing off waves of enemies waiting for your stupid flying assistant to hack old computer terminals. Warning: You WILL get tired of the endless repetition of that contrived gameplay mechanic.

You'll be pleased to hear that the controller interface is excellent and intuitive on Xbox One because, you guessed it. Same as Halo.

However, there is one fantastic innovation, Now pressing y to switch between primary and secondary weapons is augmented by pressing and holding Y for access to your equipped heavy weapon. This is a masterstroke of interface design, really adding to the gameplay experience. It's one of the rare demonstrations in Destiny that proves Bungie still has the magic to create.

Essentially Destiny is the game Bungie has been making for various Xbox platforms for the last 13 years. The catch is that Destiny really isn't quite the best one they've done. It's a real shame that if you've already hammered your way through the Halo series you have already mastered all the skills needed to plow straight through Destiny. It's like riding a bike and as a result, too soon you'll find yourself at the credits.
If you've never played Halo or played Playstation or Nintendo exclusively, playing Destiny will be a new found wonder. You've been missing out on a party and turning up late won't diminish it. As for the rest of us it's a good game but you will have better enjoyed playing it years ago as the Chief.

Destiny is a fine game which introduces a truly charismatic new world married to Bungie's trademark robust game design. It's just a disappointment that Despite their efforts, it's no match for the epic worlds and lore they created for Halo. Worse, Destiny's individual play elements don't gel with the same symphony that Halo's do and the new sandbox organisation is not as exciting as the Master Chief's carefully scripted narrative either. Destiny just lacks.. focus. By aspiring to the contemporary concept of ongoing game worlds, Destiny has sacrificed direct structure for perpetuity. Like the new multiplayer dynamic only time will tell if this paradigm shift has paid off.

The last crucial thing that I need to point out is that by observing the current fad of obsessive individualism and customisation options, Destiny's main protagonist is everybody and nobody. One look at all the absurd armour combinations and garish colour schemes people pick out and you can be forgiven for thinking Destiny is like Halo in drag. Think Prince in armour. 

You may have created a Billy-badass character but essentially it's just you. I don't mean to offend here but you ain't the Master Chief. He's scripted, He's one of videogaming's most iconic Heroes, he certainly never gimped around like a prancing twat. Which brings me to the dancing, It would seem that just because you can, everybody does the stupid dance animation in Destiny - Whoooosh! Good bye atmosphere! Your just you... nobody will remember the hero of Destiny or their narrative and that's a huge disadvantage to the franchise's appeal and longevity in Gamertroll's opinion.

Gamertroll, like everybody else, dared for a moment to expect more. But Destiny just screams 8/10, Damned Good, great even, but not special. A special 9/10 could have only happened had it only been less a derivative of their former games.

Executing a near identical replication of every feature of the Halo franchise for a new game and forgetting to find a rival creation to the MasterChief is like identically replicating a successful race car and then forgetting to place an engine in it.

Gamertroll was starting to think that the mesmerising graphics and continuous addition of new enemies, planet's and guns would eventually push Destiny into the top ranks... then the game just ended, quite prematurely.

If Bungie didn't want to have Destiny scrutinised so closely against their legendary Halo games, perhaps they shouldn't have so ruthlessly plagiarised them.

7.9/10  Not the landmark title it could or should have been, Destiny loses crucial marks with it's poorly balanced PvP mode. Two weeks on and 7.9 is the revised Gamertroll score. Destiny is proof that once the campaign is over, a sci-fi shooter lives or dies by the quality of it's multiplayer. once you've bored of the level grinding subsequent to story completion, it becomes painfully obvious that this hasn't the staying power of Titanfall.

1 comment:

  1. After much deliberation, Gamertroll has decided to drop Destiny's score to 7.9
    At the time of review it was not clear how the multiplayer modes would mature. After playing them at length Gametroll is making a necessary score revision..
    It would appear that against all odds, Bungie has produced a Player Vs Player experience which is less than satifactory. For most modes found in the 'Crucible' PvP portion of the game the leveling, exotic and legendary items have contributed negatively on the play experience. As initially feared the over powered wargear has rendered the multiplayer too arbitrary and unbalanced. Down you go to 7.9 Destiny.