Review: Destiny (PS4)

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Title: Destiny
Format: Blu-Ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (17.4 MB)
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bungie
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
Destiny is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
The PlayStation 4 disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was purchased by PS Nation for this review.
PS Nation Review Policy

Golden Minecart Award Winner 2014:
– Best Newcomer (New IP: PS3 Disc-Based)
– Best Multiplayer (PS3)
– Best Multiplayer (PS4)
– Game of the Year (PS4)

Gameplay:
Destiny has, built within it, all the elements needed for a blockbuster hit. It’s no wonder it has become the fastest-selling new IP of all time. Beautiful graphics, fantastic gameplay controls, minimal yet informative menus, and superb multiplayer elements are all on display. Add in that this is the first title from Bungie since their Halo days, and that it has the backing of the behemoth publisher Activision, and it is easy to see the reasons behind Destiny being successful.

Yet, in the end, what do you get?

The hard part is coming up with an answer. It almost lies within what type of gamer you are and/or what kind of game you are expecting out of Destiny. Do you cherish story-driven games that give a deep and fantastic lore with great characters to pull you in? Or, do you relish the thought of an experience where the gameplay takes precedence over everything else? Luckily for you, you don’t have to choose. Destiny succeeds with flying colors in gameplay yet suffers when it tries to tell you things. The firefights and loot grinding take center stage while the story and characters quickly become second-string. Bungie succeeds at creating the same adrenaline pumping fun gameplay they became famous for from their Halo series and that element is what allows you to forgive the rest of the shortcomings of Destiny.

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Opening seven hundred years in the future, Destiny tells a story where humanity is under threat of annihilation by an alien force, and it’s your job to stop it. A friendly celestial being known as ‘The Traveler’ has made its home above the last remaining city on Earth. Its presence has granted specific people the power to use ‘The Light’ in the battle against the invading aliens. Playing as a Guardian you’ll work with other allies to push back the alien threat from human colonies on other planets and stave off our extinction.

Destiny is the result of the hand it was dealt: a game with a boring, uninteresting story due to its open-world nature. Speckled throughout the twenty-plus hour campaign are cut scenes that do little to progress that story, which is normally given through a series of in-game dialog dumps from your floating companion called a Ghost. Speaking up before, during, and after missions, your Ghost gives details of the world and events around you, providing a melancholy description of what is happening. The story begins on an interesting, and very Bungie, note that quickly loses all form of intrigue as you see the story get easily overshadowed by other aspects of the game.

Throughout the Halo series Bungie perfected their skill at creating fluid, adrenaline fueled gun-play. Instead of just a copy and paste of their proven gameplay mechanic, Bungie upped the ante by adding in speed and movement, creating an even more enjoyable experience which makes each firefight feel fresh and dynamic. Character movements have been increased and the inclusion of sliding and jump packs offer multiple ways to tackle the same group of enemies over and over. It is this single element, the firefight, that makes Destiny one of the best games in recent memory; erasing all negatives the game possesses.

Each battle can lead to various results based on how you use your environment, gear, and mobility. As you will be fighting the same group of enemies many times on your path through the campaign of Destiny, it is nice to know that just by trying something a little different, a firefight can drastically change in difficulty.

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Story missions will take you to four separate planets in our solar system: Earth, the Moon, Venus, and Mars. Though the setting and enemy types will change from planet to planet, the missions will not. You will partake in the same mission structure over and over with the only form of incentive being the (not-guaranteed) loot that will drop throughout and at the end of the mission. The promise of loot, fantastic gun-play mechanics, and level design are more than enough to keep you entertained for hours in Destiny when the story won’t.

Bungie has achieved something very special with being able to nail down such a solid game, gameplay wise, with it being an always online experience. Not once during my twenty three hour campaign trek did I run into a slowdown of framerate, a stutter or any form of lag. This single fact could be the biggest “game changer” that Bungie has created within Destiny – I will dive into the huge multiplayer part later in the review.

Enemies are everywhere in Destiny which is a good thing as you’ll be tasked with killing a lot of them. The best part though is how each alien race has their own form of combat, even changing their tendencies and their rules of engagement mid-combat. The Fallen, the first alien race you come across, are strong in using cover and flanking maneuvers to get a better position on you. While they are reluctant to come out and deal with you face to face, they will indeed run straight at you if there are no other options available. Likewise, another race met later will smartly use flanking maneuvers and close-quarter combat skills and periodically throw in cover mechanics. Having so many instances of how enemies will be dealing with you keeps the already very enjoyable firefights from ever getting old and boring.

Visuals:
From its opening seconds to the closing credits, Destiny is a stunningly beautiful game to look at. Everything in the game seems to be hand-crafted and unique, providing a sense of realism to enemies, players, weapons, and even the world. You’ll stop your character moving every so often just to look at the beautiful artwork that is before you.

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Destiny is a visual masterpiece. From the stunning backdrops to the fantastically designed levels; there is always something new that pleases your eyes when you look at it. Every planet has their own unique and interesting theme, providing a true sense that you are traveling to various locations and each is a world unto itself. Earth is a barren land that shows signs of how the flamboyant lifestyle of humans can harm a planet and the early stages of nature taking it back. Venus is covered in a lush and beautiful forest spotted with decaying buildings from a civilization long since passed. Even the normal copy-and-paste caves are each made unique. From the beginning of Destiny all the way to the end, your eyes will never be bored.

Great visuals though don’t stop at just the level design and assets through, enemies and weapons look just as good in their own right. Though you only come across four different types of enemies throughout the Destiny campaign, each stands apart from the others.

Audio:
Get ready for a fantastic game for your ears. Destiny has one of the BEST soundtracks in a game in recent memory. Throughout the entire experience the soundtrack makes up for all the shortcomings of the story, providing that emotional trigger. There are massive orchestra filled pieces and far subtler songs, but it never gets in the way of playing, it just enhances it. Music will organically crescendo as confrontations with enemies increases, instilling a sense of scale, adrenalin, and pure fun. The musical pieces throughout Destiny work with the game, never being any more than the game requires. It simply compliments the entire experience of Destiny perfectly.

On a side note, there is nothing like the pure enjoyment that comes from the sound of a three-burst rifle firing in perfect rhythm.

Frankly, almost all the sound found within Destiny is spectacular. The background music, the guns, grenade explosions, and even the wines of vehicles, with the only exception being the voice of your companion Ghost. For the most part you can ignore the monotone annoyance if you choose to, though remember you will be missing out on the bulk of the story. The rest of the supporting cast, while nothing outstanding, is far better than your constant robotic companion.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Bungie disregards the usual standards of an online/offline game by making Destiny an always online experience. They call it a “shared-world shooter”. Every single aspect of Destiny is multiplayer, even though it seems more often than not that Bungie is limiting the ability to play online easily. This is immediately clear when you encounter the first global event and you find that you can’t communicate with any of the other players that get summoned into your own world. The only way to vocally communicate with another player is to invite that person into your fireteam. Other aspects, like the lack of matchmaking in required co-op missions left me scratching my head trying to understand why these crucial multiplayer tools were left out. It kind of makes you wonder if Bungie really wanted to make the whole game co-op-ready.

Even with the confusing lack of critical multiplayer aspects to Destiny, there are abundant things to do with other player. From the hectic and always enjoyable competitive multiplayer, called the Crucible, to the strike missions and raids, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do with a group of friends.

If you prefer to go head to head with other players to see who is the best Guardian of them all, then once you reach Level Five you’ll be able to take part in the Crucible matches. The Crucible is where the competitive multiplayer aspect of Destiny takes place. Think of Halo multiplayer, just with all the gameplay mechanics of Destiny and absolutely fantastic maps. Bungie really flexed their level-building muscles on the maps found within the Crucible, showing that they are still one of the best teams at building spectacular levels that look amazing and give various, enjoyable areas to fight in.

On the other hand, if you prefer to join up with a group of people and take on the story missions, then Destiny allows you to do a lot of that. From the standard story missions, to global events, to raids and strikes, Destiny provides an ample amount of content to partake in with other players if you don’t want to take part in the Crucible. Each story mission is playable with a fireteam, which is a group of three Guardians. While adding in two other players during a story mission makes it multiple times more fun than it is solo, the mission itself doesn’t change. It would have been fantastic for Bungie to take a note out of Diablo and increase the difficulty and loot when other players are in your fireteam during a mission. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that feature in Destiny 2.

Strike missions have turned into my favorite aspect of the campaign part of Destiny, especially when I am going at it with a friend or two. You play through a mission that can challenge you multiple times and in the end face a massive, usually rather hard, boss that is accompanied by many minions to help kill you.

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Conclusion:
Destiny is a great game that suffers from the same problem a lot of games of its kind do – trying to tell a story within an open-world game. You’ll blindly go through the campaign missions just to uncover all the wonderful things that Destiny has hidden, ignoring the dialog of characters and cutscenes, yet, you won’t care.

If you play Destiny with the mindset that you’re in store for a spectacular story full of twists and turns, then you will deeply disappointed, as the story which is present lacks pretty much all of that. What you will find though is a wonderful game to play, full of fantastic moments, wonderful gameplay and the promise of new end-game content all the time. You’ll be coming back for more.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Kyle Jessee

Kyle Jessee

Your lone Kentucky writer on staff. Loves the Big Blue Nation, rock music, and Resistance 2 (the best in the series).

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  • тнe ғιgнтer

    No No no

  • Serc

    Did I play a different Destiny to you? I don’t recall any open world features, unless you mean patrol and then that is so badly designed, I expected a story and a vast solar system to explore not an epic telling of a space opera and I was still disappointed. The game itself is fun, but 3 planets and a moon and only 4 area’s to visit and even they are so similar it’s hard to call them new area’s. Each area is basically a section of borderlands but much more limited and you can’t explore because 4,3,2,1 go back oops I’m dead due to invisible wall for no reason on Mars/moon despite the area looking like it is explorable, you basically a flat land with a huge pipe and a short cut to another area but no I have to go down a corridor. Thinking of corridors all the area’s are like that area with mobs – corridor/tunnel of nothing – area with mobs, worse still they loop like a doughnut so imagine a doughnut with 3 playable areas all linked with a circle road.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m not a hater, the game is just so badly made it feels like a beta. They have some of the weirdest design choices, taking the worst parts of free to play and adding them to a AAA game. The whole game is rinse repeat 200 head shots in 1 area as it has the best spawns, kill 3 spider bots by heading to patrol walk for 10 mins kill it then orbit and back to patrol again because that’s the only way to do that bounty… Thinking of bounties they actually call that content – Complete mission one again = new content because it gives you rep with another faction and another of the many currencies in the game.

    I hope it’s an entry level and that Destiny 2 fixes everything as the game as it stands is not bad but certainly not good either.

  • Keith Dunn

    More than many recent games, Destiny really divides people. As we can see from this well-done review. If you look at the PS Nation FB Group you’ll see just as vehemently stated opposing ideas to posts about how bad Destiny is.
    Reviews state the opinion of the reviewer. They aren’t biblical scripture to be followed and believed whether you like it or not.

    • Jahonius

      Amen.

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