"The law of the jungle, it's a grind: Destiny Review "

Destiny is grand, sci-fi adventure that could live up to its notorious hype with time


Game: Destiny

Developer: Bungie

Publisher: Activision

Released: Sept. 9 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PS4 (Played)

Grade: B+

As a Fallen drop ship plummets into Earth’s atmosphere and the clandestine aliens of the galaxy bounding from the massive red, rusty vessel fire at you, you fire back and lob a grenade at them.

The grenade explodes, eviscerating a few of your enemies and making a dent in the enemy’s strength. You still feel heavily outnumbered when suddenly players from all over the world arrive and help you riddle humanity’s intergalactic enemies with enough ammunition to win a battle three times the size.

At least that’s the experience players were promised.

The opening hours of Destiny – complete with being revived from the dead by a floating robot called Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), and warned of humanity’s impending doom – reveal a game begging to live up the to the grand sci-fi adventure Bungie, the creators of Halo, had promised gamers since the details of the game leaked in November 2012.

It’s big, it’s grand, it’s gorgeous and it’s full of bullet-laden, action-filled, cooperative adventures that have kept gamers around the world over logging millions of hours since Destiny’s release.

The always-online world of Destiny, which is two parts shooter, one part MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game), is always evolving and, with time, could be one of the greatest game of this generation.

After being revived, players are told of “the Collapse,” a period where humanity went from a Golden Age of space exploration and colonization to faltering on the brink of extinction. Humans hold one last safe city that was saved by a white spherical, celestial being known as “the Traveler,” who helped humankind reach the stars, but now it’s imperiled – the Darkness that caused the Collapse is returning and the Traveler can’t stop it this time.

As Guardians, players choose one of three classes – either a Warlock, Hunter or Titan – and use light energy given to them by the Traveler to devastate enemies, save humanity and uncover the mysteries of the Collapse.

Life in Destiny is rarely a dull tale. It can be repetitive, grueling and unrewarding when it shouldn’t be. But it’s always fun, intense and entertaining when it needs to be.

The experience is packed with pristine production values like stunning vistas that jut out from the edges of each landscape, meticulously detailed levels, gaudy enemies and a remarkable soundtrack – things Activision reportedly spent part of the game’s $500 million budget on.

On top of that, the game is sound mechanically and comes with a control scheme that not only streamlines the experience as a whole but is also one of the most satisfying in beyond recent memory. The game’s responsiveness is truly remarkable and there’s never a time that players wonder what button they should press – they already know and Destiny doesn’t waste any time trying to remind them.

Between the highlight moments of adrenaline-packed Strike missions and high-level raids, there are plenty of story missions to blast through and areas to patrol. But the downtime between missions is where the gaps in Destiny begin to shine.

Raids and Strikes rarely loose their allure, even after multiple playthroughs.

There are plenty of moments throughout the story in which players just hold the square or “X” button on an Xbox controller while Ghost does something and they wait for more action to ensue. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing if the story knew when to mute itself, if the levels weren’t filled with repetitive enemies or if bosses didn’t take more than 10 minutes of soaking up thousands of bullets to die.

Destiny is also home to the Crucible where Guardians fight to the death. It’s full of game modes familiar to anyone who has picked up a multiplayer shooter in the past few years and grants high-level players some great rewards. Just be aware, it isn’t exactly balanced - low-level players will have to contend with the highest echelon of Destiny enthusiasts.

Mechanically, visually and audibly, Destiny hits all the right notes in all the right places, save for a few.

The game has the key pieces for an iconic sci-fi story and one players have seen in one way or another plenty of times before: Humanity is almost extinct, an evil force is returning to finish the job and the player is all that stands between annihilation and survival.

The story is full of tropes and predictable moments and somewhere between the Ghost’s globs of uninspired exposition and the clumsy cut scenes the story lost the same polish and game design fervor maintained by the game’s other elements of the game.

Destiny is inescapably a grind, both of leveling and searching for precious rare, legendary and exotic items that may have players talking like Gollum when they find the right one. And the best moments the game has to offer, like the Vault of Glass Raid, aren’t unlocked until players near and exceed the level cap.

It takes about 15 hours to reach the game’s current level cap of 20, after which players need to find armor that contains light to keep leveling – armor that’s quite rare, considering bosses don’t drop loot despite taking 10 or more minutes to conquer. Chests are sparse and purple – legendary – loot doesn’t always equate to a purple piece of armor or legendary item at all.

Thankfully, Bungie announced it’s working on making legendary items easier to obtain.

With its hands on the controls, Destiny is an overseer that always knows what to turn the dial to. It surely has its faults. But when the music amps up, the action intensifies and the screen becomes filled with glorious action, those faults rarely feel memorable until they’re encountered again.

As a constantly changing and improving experience, Destiny might occasionally leave players feeling unrewarded for their time. It might present them with a seemingly endless amount of hoops to jump through and it might drag on from time to time. And at times it doesn’t live up to the hype.

In the middle of a Strike mission or raid those times don’t matter.

The future looks bright – Bungie is hard at work.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com