Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Games Review: Destiny

One of the games I was most looking forward to on the PS4 was Arkham Knight, which I'd avoided on the PC due to it's extremely buggy release state. I'm sorry to say that it's a crushing dissapointment, deciding quite deliberately to move away from what was fun the earlier games - hanging around on rooftops being Batman - towards being an underwhelming Batmobile driving simulator and anti-tank shooting simulator. What good ideas and execution it has is lost on constantly being forced to use a bloody car that is no fun to use, and in the end I gave up in disgust, a sad end to a pretty great series. On the plus side, I've been playing a lot of Destiny, which I'm finding pretty damn great. 

On the face of it, Destiny is a co-op, persistant world First-Person Shooter, set across a future solar system devastated by a future war but also with aliens, cyborgs, superpowers and Diablo-style loot showers. So sort of like Borderlands, but much, much, more self-serious.  You get a series of missions from a central hub (the expansions add additional hubs and zones) to fly to zones in your spaceship, where there is a mix of public and instanced sections containing lots of stuff to shoot, get more guns and xp, to take on more missions, etc. It's a very familiar core format, right? 

Well, yes, but Destiny shines in two main areas. The first is that the main gameplay is really, really fun. It's fast, busy and diverse. The guns pack a good punch and the enemies are a good mix of threats from little fragile swarms to larger targets that need a little more finese to take down. You get two main weapon slots, plus a heavy weapon with sparse ammo, and a special, class-based power, giving a good sense of power and flexibility. Each slot has a number of options so found I stuck to only a few weapon types that suited me, but I like the choice, even if I didn't use it. My one reservation is that the game feels resolutely mid-to-short range, so the sniper rifles and similar don't feel too useful. 

The other is the ease of co-op and progress curve. I've played it mostly with a freind and it's been a largely seemless experience, with the game adding extra people to our fireteam when we've done 3-player missions as neccesary. Objectives are shared as one of us does them, loot is unique. It's basic stuff in many ways but so many games don't get it right so it's worth applauding when they do. The game also doles out a steady stream of increases - gear unlocks, for instance - and currency to buy things like shinier spaceships on the loading screens. It feels like a complete, slick and finished package.

In fact the only quibble I have is that the story itself - much like Bungie's Halo series - is nonesense. It's really full of itself too, expounding epic dialogue in earnest as if it's telling a great epic where really it's sort of SF Word Salad, so much so that I'd be hard pushed to explain any of it to you. Look, no-one is playing Destiny for the story or characters, but the game wants so hard for you to take it seriously, and I just can't. But this shouldn't put you off from what is a rich and fun shooter experience, now with a bunch of additional expansion content. It's really great, and I've enjoyed my ongoing time there.