The season of gaming has begun. If you’re a video game fan, you know that autumn is loaded with dozens of major releases… and your wallet is going to become significantly lighter as a result. However, I’m sorry to say, don’t waste your money on this opening act.
“Destiny,” the latest release from developer Bungie and publisher Activision, kicks off the 2014 gaming season with a whimper. It’s an overhyped, well-marketed attempt at creating a Halo MMORPG. It’s a great effort, but it never grows beyond the initial sparkle. It sunk its hooks into me quickly, but, after a few hours, you really start to feel the monotony settle in. It’s neither deep enough of an RPG nor satisfying enough of a narrative to keep you interested in its shallow attempt at a sci-fi world.
Let’s get this out of the way now: “Destiny’s” gunplay is flawless. The shooting is very smooth, very responsive, and every gun feels great. Each weapon is quite weighty and each bullet fired feels just right. However, after the first few hours, nothing changes. You see every gun type, every enemy type, and every trick the game has to offer.
You get to travel to a few different planets, but they all play out the same way. There is a central hub, “The Tower,” where you can talk to a few merchants and NPCs, but they have no story. No background. The world is just so shallow and it kills the immersion. It does not feel like a huge intergalactic adventure; it feels like “Guild Wars” in space, and that’s not a good thing.
I applaud this game for trying to take aspects of “Halo,” “Borderlands” and recent MMORPGs for PC and putting them together, but it’s just not as fully realized as any of the above-mentioned games. It’s just Halo with numbers. It’s a less stupid Borderlands. It plays great, but just has no personality. It feels like a disconnected series of tasks rather than one fluid narrative structure.
I can understand Bungie wanting to try a little bit of the “Monster Hunter” mantra: maybe the campaign isn’t important; maybe it’s just about getting your friends together to kill big monsters. But they haven’t created a “Monster Hunter” – they have created a very boring and monotonous first-person shooter.
After completing the campaign, half of your character’s skill tree is left empty, and you haven’t unlocked any high level armor, gear or skills. But who cares? The game’s RPG elements are initially very inviting, but it turns out to be very shallow. There just isn’t enough armor or weapon variation to want to continue playing. There is no sense of reward – only more level grinding.
The loot system isn’t expansive enough to appeal to the RPG crowd or the “Borderlands” fans. The narrative is very poor, and there are so few NPCs and story related characters that the campaign just feels dead. That’s one of the biggest problems with the game: it just never comes alive. The story, the characters, the gunplay, the leveling systems, the looting – it’s all very drab.
I also appreciate Bungie trying to incorporate the single player into the multiplayer, but it’s not very good either. Players take their weapons and skills from the single player game and use them against other players in competitive play, but what you get is a wildly unbalanced game with very stereotypical FPS game modes.
I’m surprised that the creators of “Halo,” a series known for competitive play, did such a ham-fisted job with the multiplayer. It’s so unimaginative and boring.
You earn gear and experience from multiplayer and use it in your single player adventure, but it all comes around to the same fact: this game is an unsatisfying grind through repetitive missions surrounded by a terrible, clichéd sci-fi narrative.
At the end of the day, this game just isn’t very fun. The initial sparkle of the game is never built upon. Don’t believe the hype. Buyer beware.
Final Grade: C-