0 comments

Review – Destiny Succeeds, But Doesn't Reach It's Full Potential (PS4)

by on 10/17/2014
 

Sitting down to play Destiny, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The hype has completely died down, as has the initial blowback. Reviews were, overall, pretty mediocre. There was a fair amount of disappointment to go around that, still, didn’t really stop anyone from playing the game. People are still plugging hour after hour into this game. And I get that – there is a fair amount that this game does right, as evidenced by the always packed online play. However, it doesn’t do everything right…
The story behind Destiny is straightforward. You play as a Guardian for the last safe city on Earth, armed with special powers and abilities. It’s your job to defend the city and defeat the enemy – at any cost. It’s that simple. That’s the story (seriously, that’s it).
I didn’t really pay attention to any trailers or reports for this game before it’s release, nor did I really care when it actually hit the shelves. I remember a few voice actor sites covered its rather impressive cast, but, outside of that, I didn’t dig any further. It was the furthest thing from my mind. Keep in mind, I’m someone who’d get more excited over a video game’s voice cast list than director or developer (which I’m sure is sacrilege to some of you). But, after getting to put nearly a week’s worth of play time into Destiny, I gotta say… I enjoyed the hell out of this game. It has more than a few problems, totally, but the time I’ve put into it has been fairly rewarding.
What I find primarily rewarding is how it manages to jam so many different genres into one. It mixes in a lot of the classic tropes and beats we find with sci-fi shooters, RPGs, and online multiplayer into one pretty successful mish-mash of a game. When you look at it objectively, that’s actually pretty impressive. Given that I’m not a massive fan of online multiplayer, I found I was still able to get plenty out of the sci-fi shooter aspect out of it, even with some of the more under-cooked RPG elements. Same with the character creator selection, since whatever character we chose didn’t really seem to matter in the end. That being said, the action is awesome, and I enjoyed the hell out of it, but at times it didn’t feel as deep as it should be because the story wasn’t 100% there.
destiny fps pvp Venus shores of time skirmish 01 668x300 - Review - Destiny Succeeds, But Doesn't Reach It's Full Potential (PS4)
To touch upon the action, Destiny gives the player a plethora of options to dispatch the most dastardly of foes, everything from an multitude of bitchin’ guns to full-fledged super-powers. The makers behind the game, Activision and Bungie, deserve major props for the work on the weaponry. Every gun works and handles differently, and you can feel it in the game player. The powers are excellent too and sometimes provides a nice quick out when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or just want to speed things along. It goes without saying that, especially in the multiplayer, those powers will save your behind more than once. The neat thing is the amount of leveling you can do for your character. Now, take note, I’m not super well-versed in RPGs and stuff, so there’s a good chance that, like the character creator, the leveling system here is kinda half-baked too, but I thought it worked well for what I needed it to do. I had the story campaign to do and my power upgraded up accordingly through lots of action and purchases and allowed me to take down some tough opponents.
Now, to swing back to the story for a moment, that is the weakest point for Destiny here. As I said earlier, at times it feels like we’re not getting the whole story – like a very, very, very light CliffsNotes rundown of everything. And, because of that, the story campaign at times feels repetitive, with the player just going through the same mission over and over, just slightly tweaked each time. There’s no deep, engaging story to really make us want to propel forward. Personally, I was more interested in seeing how far I could push my character, and it got to the point where the story was more of an afterthought, just something to do to get what I needed. As much as I was enjoying myself, at times I found the story kind of sucked out some of that enjoyment. The story just wasn’t clicking and, as a result, I wasn’t as invested as I should have been.
There does seem to be lore here, but you just have to freakin’ access it through a convoluted and frankly bizarre system that has you going online instead of just having it accessible through the options menu. It’s cumbersome and yanks the player right out of the game. True, true, our laptops and phones are always within reach, but why can’t they just be accessible via my character’s inventory? Frankly, having that information more at hand likely would’ve added some immediate weight to the skimpy story. Still, I guess it’s a smart way for the company to get players to visit the website or download the app and spend a good chunk of time thumbing through it.
One of the craziest aspects about this game is the immense acting pedigree it has… and how they all seem to be wasted. Peter Dinklage, as the AI companion, sounds bored and out of place. I get that he’s an AI and there won’t be any real vocal inflections for his character, but he just sounds so… flat. In fact, a lot of the dialogue really seems inconsequential and not at all important. The lack of a really layered, massive story trickles over into the rather bland dialogue. In fact, the narrative shortcomings seem to affect so much of the game. As much as I enjoyed it, the whole “go here and kill a bunch of folks” does get tiring when it’s not dressed up with some compelling characters and writing.
destiny fps pvp Moon anomaly salvage tp 3v3 01 668x300 - Review - Destiny Succeeds, But Doesn't Reach It's Full Potential (PS4)
It’s easy enough to push past the voice acting and story. The game is just so damn gorgeous. The visuals, matched with the superb cache of weaponry and power, can get pretty overwhelming at times. The scope is staggering and the accompanied soundtrack nicely compliments the game beat for beat. Whether it’s quiet exploration or a fast-paced shoot-out, the accompanying score knows how to push your pulse or when to ease your heartbeat. In fact, the game puts a lot of work into the little details, which actually gives it the kick it needs. While it can’t fix everything that’s wrong with the game, it does help show that extraordinary detail was put into it. Even the multiplayer portion, which I spent a fair amount of time on, is incredibly strong when compared with other aspects of the game. In fact, there were times when I found myself neglecting some parts of the story campaign just so I could get caught up in the online combat (and get absolutely creamed, but still).
And I think it’s that online play that will ultimately keep this game in the consoles of countless players for some time to come. When you break it down  the campaign is rather conservative and paint-by-numbers. Shoot, plot “development,” shoot, AI does something, shoot, success, repeat. And that happens a lot. It’s not until the online play when you get to really mix things up and just… do what you want (to an extent). I suppose that’s no different than most games, but the story mode here feels pretty restrictive. And if I had to point out a favorite online mode of mine, I always get a kick out of the “capture the flag” scenario.
I mentioned above that the online component will keep this game in heavy rotation, and that’s true, but it also looks like Activision and Bungie will be actively supporting that going forward. There’s been a plethora of hints to suggest that we’ll see plenty of additions to the online mode in the future, and I hope the same goes for the story. While this gives the impression that the game is incomplete, it does have me really curious about what they have in store for the future.
Combat is where this game excels, bottom-line, but almost everything else falls a little short. Activision and Bungie are planning to support this game for a long time to come so, possibly, the game I’m looking at right now might be significantly different in six  months and that has me intrigued. Granted, Activision and Bungie should have released more at launch if they have this content just ready to go but this seems to be a frustrating industry trend that isn’t going anywhere.
Where was I? Oh yes – Destiny! Would I recommend it? Absolutely. The price is a bit steep and the package as it is now doesn’t reach it’s full potential, but the long term support plans might fix that. The story is lax and the voice acting weak, but the action is incredible and the graphics are gorgeous. Despite its flaws, I think the game is overall a success at merging all these different genres into one package. More importantly, it’s enjoyable. The storyline can be a bit of a slog, and the online portion doesn’t feel 100% refined, but the action is second-to-none right now. As long as the publishers don’t callously push this game aside, I think it’s one game that fans will come back time and time again, and rightfully so.

Be the first to comment!
 
Leave a reply »

 

Leave a Response