In Destiny you are a Guardian of the last city on Earth, able to wield incredible power. Several hundred years in the future, and after mankind survived the Golden Age, Earth and the inhabited planets are decimated leaving few survivors. A mysterious Traveler now hovers above Earth providing the only safe refuge - for now. As a Guardian you must reclaim all that we have lost.
But stepping back, the first step in this game is to create your character with the choice of three classes - Titan, Hunter or Warlock. The Titan class built the wall (no, not the same as that in Game of Thrones!) and protected those behind it and specialises in heavy weapons, the Hunter Class once prowled the wilderness and wastelands and took big risks for big rewards similar to a bounty hunter while the Warlock class have studied the Traveler and mastered arcane energies and are similar to wizards or magicians. You will also need to select your race (Humans, Awoken, or Exo), gender (see, it's not too hard Ubisoft!), and then the armor and weapons which will be collected from loot drops and crates as you explore the lands. This configuration is used through all modes of the game including campaign (co-op or solo), or multiplayer.
In terms of gameplay Destiny ticks all the boxes with responsive controls, multiple weapons, a grenade and knife and of course customisation of your character. As you play through the game - in either the campaign or multiplayer modes - you will pick up weapons, armor, engrams, ammunition. Naturally your character can be customised with different weapons and armor, each of which not only changes the look of your character, but has different properties and which can be upgraded after a period of use. Engrams can be decoded for special items, but ultimately aren't too different from simply picking up a new item. Each character also has a "Super" move which provides, well, super powers for a few seconds - with our Hunter class it gave a massively powerful hand cannon with three shots - perfect for taking out tougher enemies.
Destiny was initially touted as a MMOFPS however Bungie have since shied away from calling it that in recent times, and perhaps rightfully so as the game has multiple game modes and does not have a monthly subscription as was rumoured some time ago. While this game is indeed a FPS it does have multiplayer components with both co-op and PvP matches available and while you can create a squad of three Guardians in the main Fireteam co-op mode, you will also encounter other Guardians in the world, often needing to work together to take down larger enemies.
It must be pointed out that not all new content is as tough as "Vault of Glass"with this week seeing the addition of "The Queen's Wrath" which provides new challenges and bounties for lower ranked players to attempt. It's still tough mind you, and you'll want to be above Level 20, but there is plenty to do - well until October 6 when it ends and a new mission will go online.
In our preview of Destiny we quoted the PlayStation Blog (read here where the developers stated that "We no longer have mission designers, but world designers, instead. They’re building places worth visiting, exploring, and reclaiming from your enemies." That's an interesting statement as, now that we have played the game and completed the campaign one of our biggest complaints would have to be the lack of variety in the missions - yes, they probably should have kept some mission designers on. Too many of the Story based levels see you getting to a location, sending Ghost off to hack into something, and then have to fight off wave after wave of enemy. What's worse is that even if you leave Ghost alone to hack into something, the enemies don't seem to bother attacking him and concentrate on you instead. It makes the game feel a little under developed and rushed.
Funnily enough we actually found the enemies in Destiny to be a bit disappointing. While The Fallen are somewhat unique as your earliest enemies, The Hive reminded us of the aliens in District 9 or Predator, Vex look like the aliens from Independence Day, but then turn into Terminator styled machines when their outer shells are gone. Finally, the Cabal look like the big aliens at the start of The Fifth Element. It's nice to pay homage to classics, but too similar.
The game also suffers some pretty lengthy load times (often well over 30 seconds) which, given the game installs 21GB to the HDD, is pretty disappointing. Finally, as you play through the game and meet set objectives you unlock Grimore Cards, but you can't actually see them from within the game and need to access the website or the Spartphone App to see them.
Ever since Destiny was first unveiled at E3 2013, we knew this was going to be a great looking title and this final release looks very impressive with some super slick cut- scenes and menus while in-game the 1920 x 1080p visuals are presented in a rock solid 30fps frame rate as expected. Each of the locations (Earth, Moon, Mars and Venus) look different and are instantly recognisable while the enemies are also varied, detailed, and look realistic enough.
If there is a slight downside it's that it just lacks the "wow" factor which games such as Killzone Shadow Fall or inFamous: Second Son managed to achieve. Sure, there are some gorgeous cut-scenes, slick menus, and each of the worlds has a different visual style, but it just lacks that special something to push it to the next level.
Destiny doesn't reach the lofty heights of Bungie's Halo franchise and nor does it set benchmarks for the new consoles, but it's a competent, polished and enjoyable enough experience for FPS fans. This is only the first step in a new franchise and there is plenty of opportunity for the developers to make it the jaw-dropping experience we all expected in the coming years.
Review By: Dave Warner