Nerd Nook Review: Destiny

Jack of all trades, but master of none. Is Bungie’s highly anticipated sci-fi shared world shooter worth the wait?

September 26, 2014

Price: $59.99
Rating: T
Genre: Action role-playing, First-person Shooter, Massively Multiplayer Online
Modes: Multiplayer
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Released by: Bungie
Release Date: September 9 & 11 (PS3 + PS4), 2014

Initial rating: 7/10
Final rating: 7.8/10

+ Rich aesthetic
+ Clean design
+ Huge interactive world
+ Large variety of character customization options
+/– Optimized for multiplayer
– Too many genres crammed into one game
– Poor storyline
– Inadequate script

After being introduced to the game by my friend (and feeling a bit doubtful about the game concept overall), I decided I would keep up with Bungie’s updates. I mean who doesn’t want to shoot some aliens? It didn’t take long for me to become hooked on the idea, and my excitement welled when I watched the game trailer during an E3 livestream. Several hours of testing the beta version later, I knew I had to have it. A few months passed and the game was finally in my hands. I waited in awe as the loading screen stretched across my screen.

Old Russia’s landscape (Photo credit: Bungie)

Put simply, Destiny is a beautiful game, and that resonated at the very start of the game. The opening scene pulls players into a war
torn, post apocalyptic Russia, littered with burnt grass steppes and rusted structures. This theme of stunning scenery is prevalent throughout the entirety of the introduction, as the camera pans through the Moon and the galaxies, until finally it lands on the character creating display. At the customization screen, players have a choice of three distinct guardian classes; Warlock, Hunter, or Titan, each with their respective abilities. However, there is not much distinction between the classes, save for outward appearance and minor melee abilities. Guardians ultimately have one goal: to shoot things and to survive, and all three of these species accomplish this task in fairly the same way. All classes equip the same weapons and armor, save for one unique clothing option.

This lack of prominence is only the start of Destiny’s undermining.

The game is heavily compacted with elements from MMO, RPG, and FPS which renders it unable to appeal to each corresponding genre. While I do admire the execution of the FPS element, I don’t care for the MMO or the RPG aspects of the game. For one, Destiny’s multiplayer feature diverges from a traditional MMO setting. Rather than having servers that players may join, Destiny includes a matchmaking alternative, where players are placed in a world with other players they have been “matched” with. This takes away from the choice that other gamers may have, leaving world population to the game. Another concern within the MMO element is the Crucible, the game’s PvP platform. The concept itself doesn’t make much sense to me, that in a time of crisis, Guardians would draw their weapons against each other rather than to the Fallen? While it is not a major concern, it may strike some people as a bit illogical.

And it is not only the MMO aspects of that game that lack zeal, but the RPG aspects as well. Overall, the story is dry, a bit cryptic, and certainly flawed. There were elements that were left underdeveloped, leaving me questioning parts of the game. What is behind The Traveler? And how did Ghost come to be? Isn’t there more? Even the dialogue felt off to me. While I can say I never really cared for the script in a video game unless it was absolutely horrendous or wonderfully well written, the speech in this game was at times long and rambling, skirting the boundary of boredom, and other times so short it didn’t seem quite right.

Exo, Titan, and Warlock in Old Russia (Photo credit: Bungie)

Yet, despite all of that, I can’t stop playing. There are a large variety of weapons to buy and collect, the controls are simple and logical, and the alien antagonists have a wide set of characteristics, making them very dynamic targets. The gameplay is engaging and verging a level of addictive. And of course, knowing me and my affinity to video game soundtracks, I find the audial accompaniment to this game superb. Soundtrack audio should never be intrusive upon the game, but should act instead as an ambience to fuel riveting battles or stealthy missions. In Destiny, the music does just that, setting the atmosphere for a world shot far above the skies, filling the player with a sense of mysticism and awe in this land among the stars.

I do have one complaint though, and that is on how difficult the enemies are to defeat without the aid of others. And yes, I know, I know — it is a multiplayer game after all, but I was hoping I would make it by myself, being an exclusively solo gamer. But I suppose tackling four lackey aliens and one captain with a self-regenerating exoskeleton isn’t the best endeavor for a single player.

In the end, it boils down to one question and one question only: Should you spend $60 of your hard-earned cash on Destiny? And my answer to that is: Sure. Why not? The graphics themselves would probably get you your money’s worth and the gameplay is enticing despite its dull storyline and minor hindrances. It is a good game, just not a great one.

If you’re a trigger happy gamer go ahead and get four or five of your buddies together and go kick some intergalactic alien booty.

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