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Sept 26 2014
Destiny - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
9/9/2014ActivisionActivisionBungie12-?
Media HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating
Disc21GB1080pYesNoMA15+

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Destiny has fully customisable characters.
Destiny isn't just another game, it's an event. Developed by Bungie who many would know from their Halo franchise on XBox this is the first release from the company to also release on Sony's consoles, with publishing duties handed to Activision. With a reported development, production and marketing budget of $500 million (which was later denied somewhat) this is a big release in anyone's books, and in fact may well be biggest of a new IP ever. There's a lot riding on this game, and future franchise, and we've taken our time with this review to truly reflect this mammoth release.

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.

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This guy is a bullet sponge!
Early in the games development Destiny was touted as an MMOFPS, however in recent times Activision and Bungie have shied away from this description. In reality, the game is a lot more restrictive with 3-player fireteams being formed for the Story based missions, and typically only a couple of other players in the same areas in which you are fighting.

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.

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Vehicles can be used to get around, or attack.
Those who played the recent Alpha or Beta versions of Destiny will be right at home in the initial stages of this final release. Indeed, the final game is pretty much a carbon copy with only minor tweaks so you'll know what to expect. That though, is some of the initial problem as the first couple of hours will be overly familiar with nigh on identical level design and enemy locations.

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.

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Characters look fantastic when powered up!
Destiny actually takes a whole new tone when your character reaches the "soft" Level 20 cap. At this point the XP bar disappears, and it initially seems like the game is pretty much over. By this level the main campaign should be finished, as well as some additional multiplayer matches and grinding. However, that isn't the end as you will so move to "Light" power where it's not about the enemies you kill or matches you win, but rather the loot (read: items) you collect that have the Light power built in. It will take quite a bit of work but it is possible to reach Level 30, and potentially higher.

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.

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Destiny's multiplayer is polished, if somewhat lacking.
Bungie have promised ongoing support for the game and already we've seen some new addition including a "Vault of Glass" Raid which not only required characters to be Level 26 but provided a challenge that has rarely been seen in games. Admittedly I'm not up to that level yet however, Mike Allison (our long time reviewer here at Futuregamez), has attempted the Raid and has made some progress after 6 hours of game time and enjoying the very tough challenge. As a side note; the first team to finish the Raid took 14 hours to complete it! Now that's hardcore gaming and potential longevity if the developers keep pushing out new challenges.

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.

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Earth has been destroyed by war.
We have a few other issues beyond the generic level and mission design. First of all the game is pretty static with enemies not only respawning in the same locations at regular intervals, but also with the same number and type of enemies. The campaign is actually quite a bit shorter than we expected at around 10 hours, although the game is lengthened by the numerous strike and Raid missions and multiplayer modes however the multiplayer certainly isn't anywhere near as developed as many other top-tier FPS titles - something that may change with time but right now, if you want customised matches, clans and other niceties you may want to look elsewhere.

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.

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Destiny is going to hit shelves on September 9.
Speaking of which, Bungie have also released a Smartphone App (on iOS and Android) which allows you to track your progress, get news updates, check Grimore Cards (which are rewarded as you complete tasks in the game), check your bounties, access the forums and much more. It's a nice App worth downloading to your phone to reduce the need to access in-game menus.

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.

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Visuals are, generally, very impressive.
When it comes to sound Destiny manages to impress for the most part with some fantastic orchestral music setting the tone perfectly through the levels. Sound effects from weapons to enemies to ambient are all handled superbly while the voice work is probably the weakest aspect. Peter Dinklage (who most would know from Game of Thrones) as the voice of Ghost being much improved from the recent Alpha build, but the poor scripting, which affects the story as mentioned earlier, disappointing.

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

GRAPHICSIt's a great looking game in places, and decent in others. It feels somewhat restricted by last-gen requirements.
81%
SOUNDMusic and effects are top notch but the game is let down by some average voice work.
83%
GAMEPLAYWe expected something revolutionary, and while a very competent shooter, missions becomes repetitive and a poor story.
80%
VALUEThe story is weak, but you'll play the missions. Co-op campaign is fun, but the multiplayer is lacking compared to the best on the market (I'm looking at Battlefield and Call of Duty of course). Long-term support may boost this score in the, well, long term.
78%
OVERALLDestiny is a very good shooter, but does little to redefine, or even advance, the genre. Bungie promised a lot, delivered on most, but still missed the mark to make this essential for anyone but FPS fans.
81%

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