Destiny Review – Hyped Up Edition

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Developer Bungie’s much hyped game Destiny has long been talked about, with both a public Alpha test and a public Beta test. We have been traveling around the the Destiny Universe for days and have experienced all three classes of soldiers in action. Is the game worth your cash, or is better off lost in space?

Read our review to find out.

*Quick disclaimer: Destiny requires an internet connection at all times in order to play any aspect of the game so if you are without internet access, the game will not let you play.

Developer Bungie has long been known for its flagship Microsoft exclusive Halo video game series. XBOX and PC gamers have long praised them for creating a lengthy series based on futuristic firefights and weapons, with endearing characters and decently written stories. Destiny marks Bungie’s first jump into multi-platform creation, with both the PS3 and the PS4 getting their own editions of the game alongside the XBOX 360 and the XBOX One, with PlayStation platforms even getting a few exclusive items not found on the XBOX platforms.

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Destiny is set seven hundred years into the future in a post-apocalyptic setting following a prosperous period of exploration, peace, and technological advancement known as the Golden Age. In a universe where humans have spread out and colonized planets in the Solar System, an event known as the Collapse saw the mysterious dissolution of these colonies, the end of the Golden Age, and mankind teetering on the brink of extinction. The only known survivors of the Collapse are those living on Earth, who were saved by the Traveler, a white, spherical celestial body whose appearance centuries before had enabled humans to reach the stars. The Traveler now hovers above the last safe city on Earth, and its presence allows the Guardians the ability to wield an unknown power, only referred to as The Light.

Upon mankind’s first attempt to repopulate and reconstruct after the Collapse, it is discovered that hostile alien races have occupied mankind’s former colonies and civilizations and are now encroaching upon the City. The player takes on the role of one such Guardian, and is tasked with reviving the Traveler while investigating and destroying the alien threats before humanity is completely wiped out.

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Destiny centers on the journey of the Guardians, the last defenders of humanity, set to protect Earth’s last city. Guardians will be divided into three distinct races: Humans, Awoken, and Exo. Humans are described as being re-latable, tough, and uncomplicated. Awoken, described as exotic, beautiful, and mysterious, were inspired by fictional depictions of elves, vampires, ghosts, and angels. Exo are described as being sinister, powerful, and tireless.

Along with your race, you’ll also choose a class. There are three distinct classes to choose from: Hunters, Warlocks, and Titans. Hunters are a reconnaissance class meant to be reminiscent of the classic bounty hunter. Warlocks combine weapons with special powers from The Traveler, and are meant to be a form of space wizard. Titans, which favor heavy weapons and melee attacks. You also have a Ghost with you at all times which is a robot AI voiced byPeter Dinklage.

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Destiny isn’t your typical first person shooter. The game almost feels like a cross between a first person shooter (FPS), a role playing game (RPG) and a massively multiplayer online game  (MMO) as it shares many MMO and RPG elements, all the while playing as an FPS. With a shared online world  map, other players are jumping in to your game (or you into theirs) without you ever inviting them, help can come when you need it most without ever asking for it, but that’s not a bad thing as help is sometimes needed. The game is more of a shared shooter than anything else, and co-op play is a must in order to play through some of the missions. While we are big fans of co-op play, forcing this down your throat isn’t always welcome to some, but the match maker system for these co-op missions works quickly and effortlessly for those in need of a couple of teammates.

The Destiny universe is separated out into three planets and our moon, with a brief excursion to the Reef in a distant asteroid belt. Your central location is the Tower which is located on the Traveler, and this is where you’ll be able to buy upgrades, pick-up earned awards, and interact with other gamers from around the world. It is strictly a social area with no weapon usage and no combat to be had. The Tower is where you’ll also be able to sign up for some bounties to earn extra XP and Glimmer as you play through the game. These can be objectives like earn 9000 XP without dying or take out 100 enemies using accuracy kills (scoped kills). Bounties are either related to story missions or are related to multi-player games.

Map of the Tower

Map of the Tower

The Earth and Moon are great for getting your character started, and are fairly east to complete, but once you head to Venus or Mars, you’ll really need to be prepared as the difficulty really starts to ramp up. The leveling system is the key to all things Destiny, so yu’ll want to earn as much XP as you can on the Earth and Moon. The bad guys on Venus can be pretty strong, but the dudes on Mars make them look like powder puffs. Mars has a suggested character level of 15, and we still ran into some tough spots at level 16. Going it alone on Mars is not something you should take lightly, so we strongly suggest you find some friends to help.

You can get some friends together prior to selecting missions and Fireteams can have between three and six members, depending on whether you are playing story missions or are going into the multi-player competitive areas.  Story missions can be played as a team, but with the exception of Strike missions, teammates aren’t required. You can go it alone for all of the main story missions (see our sentence above about Mars), but if you are going to go that route, you’ll want to head out on patrol on the various planets to earn much needed XP and in-game currency called Glimmer, as well as weapons that are occasionally dropped by the bad guys you are taking out.

The Map of the Destiny Universe

Navigation Map for the Destiny Universe

Destiny is a great looking game, regardless of your platform of choice, but there are some difference between generations. We played the game for a couple hours first on the PS3 and the game looked great on the older console, even though only running at 720p. Once we installed it on the PS4, seamlessly picking up where we left off on the PS3, the 1080p graphics were much better and when switching between the two consoles, we began to see differences in the overall quality. Don’t get us wrong here, the game looks great on the PS3, it’s just that it looks much better on the PS4. Much better. The coolest thing, though, was that since our game save is stored on Bungie’s servers, it is shared between both PlayStation consoles. For those of us with both consoles, this means we can play with anyone on our friends list, albeit using the same console, and still use the same characters without copying anything to the cloud. Genius.

Destiny’s audio is another strong point for the title. The bits and pieces heard in the Alpha and beta tests gave us an idea of what to expect, but the final soundtrack is worthy of a blockbuster movie. The music ranges from a nice relaxing ambient piece for the menus, to a heart racing, in your face piece that fits the tempo of a battle to a T. The building and falling crescendos will get you amped up and have you racing into a fray, with the music falling off and rolling right into an ending that adds to the feeling of success when taking down a massive beast.  Explosions ripped through our surround sound system with a resounding thump, while weapons blasted and pulsed through the speakers in destructive fashions.

Can a death machine look any sweeter?

Can a death machine look any sweeter?

Speaking of weapons, there are more in the game than we have ever seen in one title, ever. From hand cannons, to fusion rifles, to heavy machine guns and rocket launchers, it seems like someone spent months coming up with all of these. Some seem based on reality, with a touch of futurism, while others seem ripped right out of sci-fi movies like Terminator. Add in all kinds of armor pieces for your head, chest, arms and feet, and you’ll have a soldier ready for battle in no time. Most weapons and armor have upgrade features that can be earned by using them, so if a weapon seems a little weak at first, the more you use it, the better it becomes.

Xbox has long been known for its pay-to-play Xbox Live online system and PlayStation has brought something similar to the PS4 and are using PlayStation Plus as its paywall keeper. Keep in mind that PS3 players have no restrictions and have no paywall, so if you own both consoles, and don’t have PS+, that might be a better option for you, if you don’t mind the slightly degraded graphics from the PS4 version. You can play through all of the story without hitting that paywall on the PS4, and the value far outweighs the price for PlayStation Plus, so that’s worth an investment anyway.

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Bungie has done a great job of introducing themselves to PlayStation Gamers, all the while doing a decent job of reminding Xbox Gamers that they know what they are doing. While Destiny’s story is a little weak and on the short side, and the voice acting in the cut scenes could use better actors, the game play is solid, with plenty to keep people busy for some time to come. Add in the future expansion packs to come, and you have a solid title worth to be played on your console of choice.

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