Destiny User Review
At it's best this from-the-ground-up multplayer shooter offers good fun with one or two companions, looking lavish in it's sci-fi dress with it's slickly polished environmental lushness while doing it. There's an assortment of missions to choose from that vary in location and alien opposition. The game feels a lot like Halo in play while wrapped around the basics of a more MMO-like system of progression. It takes what feels like a lore based breadth-only approach to it's story by dropping your super soldier “Vanguard” into a universe about to be consumed by “darkness.” It's your job taking the role as a titan, hunter, or warlock to accept missions to fight back this darkness.
The missions provide plenty of frantically-tactical fun in the most ordinary of ways. It's as if I stepped into FPS mission design that predates the original Halo, or even Half-Life for that matter. It has this positively “oldschool” feel to both the way a mission progresses and the boss battles. Bosses that largely feel like something from out of Doom or from about that era. Gone are the dynamic characteristics of Halo's battlefield's where a multitude of vehicles populate the playing field. Instead, it's back to basics with a solid shooting mechanic that's solid enough on the onset but eventually reveals it's weaknesses later on.
I'm going to delve a bit into it's playing depth as I place a premium on such things when it comes to a Bungie game. To improve upon the Halo formula, the shields associated with the stronger baddies now have an elemental weakness associated with them. If an enemies' shield glows orange (solar) then it's best to use your solar infused gun to bring them down. There's a handful of attack infused elements to consider here. For many, just plowing through on default settings with any high powered gun is enough to get the job done during most encounters but when taking it to the harder battles there's a definitive payoff for being attentive to these dynamics.
Yet, for all of it's combat dynamics it feels cumbersome fumbling between guns on a one-way carasel for weapon selection. But maybe Bungie doesn't expect that from you, maybe each member is supposed to commit themselves to being “solar” powered while your buddy is “void” powered and so on. Either way it'd have been nice to decide for myself in play.
Each character class is given a subclass. Many subclasses seem to own a particular elemental affinity. The Warlock, for example, can act as either a 'void walker,' dealing void damage, while they have the option of being a 'sunsinger' for a more solar based approach. And while the frantic action begs for this, the game gives you no quick selection to swap between the two subclasses. Personally, I developed a hunter. It would've been greatly appreciated to swap between being a 'gunslinger' and a 'bladedancer' on the fly, as certain situations were better accommodating to one subclass or the other. And to think there's a D-pad left reserved for near useless communication gestures I have to wonder why Bungie didn't put that pad to more meaningful use, like for hot-swapping subclasses or consuming items. Sure, I can consume an item to instantly restore a gun's ammo but it first requires me to pull up a menu then page over and move my slow cursor before it could happen.
Progression in the game becomes grindingly slow after the first play through. Once a player meets level twenty they're presented with a different way to build up a character. Instead of xp a Vanguard needs 'light' points associated with their gear to move up in the ranks. The more light you have equipped the higher your level becomes. And yes, a person can decrease their own level by removing an item this way (but who would do that? =). Your level represents a percentage based change for a mission difficulty. If a strike mission says it's a level 22 strike, being one level higher than that gives you a 20% advantage over your enemies. Likewise if you're one level below, you'll receive a 20% disadvantage. If you're two levels below 22, you can make that 40%.
Getting to the high levels and legendary equipment requires lot's of grinding through the same levels or many competitive matches in the Crucible. A mode that offers four different games. Even the online offered level 20 “story” mission was just a repeat mission from the main story, just amped up in difficulty and enemy aggression. The same goes for the “strike playlist.” A playlist that randomly selects strike missions you've already played before.
I'm going to bring this review to a close. There's more to know of course and the information is out there. To put it as brief as I can, Destiny makes you expect more from it. It looks and sounds the part. It has the developer and budget to rightfully have high expectations. We should expect better.
At it's best it can and does offer good fun preferably with friends. Let's just maintain hope that Bungie can eventually live up to the potential we all know they're capable of.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.