DestinyXbox One, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 ¦ first person shooter
How time flies. It's hard to believe that we're fast approaching the first year anniversary of this next-gen of game consoling. And to date, it's hardly been the future of gaming we were all promised. In fact, there is one word that beautifully captures our emotional response to what we've witnessed thus far in this latest generation: meh.
We'd be lying if we said we weren't disappointed. Sure, it's a period of transition, and it takes a while before the really good stuff kicks in in a new console's lifecycle, but nothing we've seen has truly impressed us.
We were hoping Watch_Dogs was going to lead the way, but we were less than blown away by its unoriginality.
Then we pencilled in Destiny – the big-budgeted collaboration between Bungie and Activision. If anything was going to kick start this next-gen, it would be this game.
It's here that we have a slight confession to make: we have never been fans of the Halo series. There, we said it. Bungie's gaming opus left us nonplussed as a gaming experience, one that we'd be hard pushed to admit that we enjoyed playing. It was an average shooter but the world was drab, with some truly ugly enemies, and a dryness to its story that could give a Weetabix a run for its money.
And although these two games are fairly different animals, it didn't take us long before the déjà vu kicked in.
The story is about... well, we'd love to be able to tell you, but it all went on a bit rather, so it passed us by. Needless to say you play a Guardian and you've got to travel between worlds a lot and shoot stuff. That's Destiny in a nutshell.
Unlike Halo, this game has quite a heavy RPG element to it. The character you choose goes through quite a sophisticated levelling up process throughout; everything from weaponry to clothing from head to toe. Some of it feels a little unnecessary however, and there were times when we levelled up and we had no idea what happened next. Basically you upgrade new tech, so you have to make sure that everything you're carrying matches the level you're currently on.
This is where we encountered our first major issue. You can only carry two weapons at a time. It's just a question of hitting Y to swap between the two, but it's trickier to swap over with other weapons you may have. For example, we were carrying a shotgun, which is great for up close and personal, but not terribly effective at distance. Unlike a sniper rifle. Now to swap these over, you have to pause the game, go into another menu, swap them over, then return to the game. The problem is, there appears to be no pause in the game. Whilst you're swapping items around in the menu, the game appears to be still playing on: so while you’re doing all this enemies are still able to shoot at you, and being the cheeky alien tykes that they are, they do.
Now our bladders behave themselves for the most part, but they do need emptying from time to time. The idea of having to take your character somewhere quiet, perhaps behind a tree, whilst you answer a call of nature yourself, seems a tad extreme. Does this mean then that next-gen consoles are so next-gen that they don't have time for pausing? Just plain silly.
Considering how it's sold as a multi-player experience, it's surprising that you can still play through the game on your own; you still have to be connected to the internet to play, mind, but if you're feeling solitary, you don't have to be bullied into co-oping.
That said, it was quite fun to see other players pop into our game at various times. At one point they decided to join in and take a few aliens out – after all, there's nothing quite like a gang mentality to get the blood flowing – and then everyone went their separate ways. This is one of the most positive elements of the game. And of course there's always your proper multiplayer side of things to dive into, if you're so inclined, with all the standard modes available.
There's also no denying that it looks rather lovely. The worlds are visually striking, making it less of a chore exploring them. The problem is though, you will see rather a lot of them. Whenever a new mission comes up, you will board your trusty spaceship and zoom down to the surface. You will end up doing this a lot. Unfortunately, many of the missions are of a similar theme. Land on planet surface, shoot enemies, move from A to B to C, before finding yourself in an area where you are warned that respawning is restricted. This means you're in the section of the game that will culminate in a boss battle of sorts, but to get there, you have to endure wave after wave of baddies. Die at any point, and back to the start you go. It's a fine line between being challenging and annoying and this game often crosses it.
We hate to say it but at times it really does feel like playing Halo 2.0. It has a rather dull approach to its storytelling, with characters completely devoid of any personality. And yet it no doubt succeeds in other areas; if you like your multiplayer games, this one certain ticks all the right boxes.
Maybe our expectations of what next-gen consoles should be delivering are just too high at present. But despite it being a new franchise, it feels like we've already been playing Destiny for years.
It's a solid, competent shooter, but like its predecessor, there's just not enough here to get excited about.