Game Review: Destiny

DestinyOk, I’m not going to mince words here.

The story in Destiny blows.

Seriously, Destiny’s script reads like the lead writers dug up every 1990’s D&D quest doodle they ever made, pooled together decades worth of accumulated piles of Star Trek/Wars fan fic, then took turns throwing the resulting scrap paper slush pile at the story concept board…

with blunt darts…

after collectively downing a 24 flat of beer.

I’d hate to have been the poor intern given the resulting bulletin board of beer-soaked scrap paper and told to come up with a script.

And I’m not alone in coming to this conclusion. Just do a Google search for “Destiny Story” and you’ll see what I mean. As usual Penny Arcade manages to compile my sentiments into a single panel cartoon. And don’t get me started on the waste of Peter Dinklage as your AI companion, Ghost. I’m a big fan of his work in Game of Thrones but I don’t think there’s much anyone could have done with the dialogue in Destiny.

Developed by Bunjie, Destiny is an open world, first person shooter (FPS) set in a “mythic science fiction” universe. Technically it is an interesting game as it blends FPS game play with a massively multiplayer online (MMO) experience- basically an MMO with better game mechanics than traditionally available- and that’s where it manages to redeem itself.

So what is the story about?

Fantastic question. One your character asks early on in the game, to which the answer is, “I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.” As far as I was able to piece together there is a “Darkness” threatening…well, everyone- but in particular a benevolent space orb called the “Traveler” and you, a “Guardian”, (note the loosely linked together sci-fi buzz words) are supposed to save it through a series of quests that amount to little more than an expansive game of FPS capture the flag. Thank God that’s where the appeal of this game lies otherwise it would have been dead in the water.

Am I being too harsh criticizing story in a first person open world shooter? Maybe, but here’s the thing. Games are constantly evolving and properties like Border Lands, Metal Gear Solid, and even Halo (which Bungie also develops) have raised the bar for story expectation in an FPS. Destiny’s dismal attempt at a story would probably have cut it five years ago- maybe even three years ago considering what the game does manage to accomplish.

Which leads us to where Destiny does excel. For starters it’s gorgeous. This is the prettiest game I’ve seen all year. Though the world map left a little to be desired in range and size for a game that was supposed to be open concept, what they do have is esthetically pleasing. The multiplayer FPS game play is well designed and a blast to play. If what you’re looking for is a pretty place to do battles with your online buddies and you could care less what the game characters have to say, you won’t be disappointed. In most cases player to player chat will be an improvement over what the game offers in the way of dialogue.

One of the most awesome aspects of Destiny is the Dance exploit. While you are defending a flag, the best thing you can do is dance, AKA Destiny Dance Marathon. Not only do you get a 360 3rd person view as enemies storm the area, I swear you aim and shoot faster as you boogie down around that flag pole. Don’t believe me? Check out this Kotaku compilation -for entertainment value if nothing else.

Is this game worth playing?: Do you love story in game? If the answer is yes then dear God no, you should not play this game. Borderlands Prequel is coming out next month; save your money and play that instead.

If, however, all you expect from an FPS is a pretty arena reminiscent of every single sci-fi/fantasy trope you remember from childhood where you can aim and fire at your in game buddies, and listening to an audiobook in the background instead of game dialogue strikes you as oddly appealing, then this game might just be for you.
Kristi Charish

Kristi Charish – AISFP Contributor

 

Kristi is a scientist and science fiction/urban fantasy author who resides in Vancouver, Canada. The first installment in her debut urban fantasy series, OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS, is scheduled for release Jan 2015 through Simon & Schuster Canada/Pocket Books.

She received her BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and her PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

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Comments

  1. To be honest, Kristi, I rarely understand what stories in games are about, other than the basic loose framework. The stories just tend to get lost in the carnage of gunfire, platform-jumping, vehicle-chasing, maze-running mayhem. At least for me. Maybe it’s just my ageing brain. When I was in a Game store in Scotland recently, Destiny was everywhere – on the store’s TV screens, posters, shop windows, and I did wonder if it was any good. Your review is useful to read, should I ever come across a £2.99 copy in the future (that’s my budget, generally). I do like Mass Effect, though, and this was before I discovered that the narrator of my first two audiobooks, Robin Sachs, played one of the aliens in Mass Effect 3, so that was seriously cool for me. And Mass Effect does seem to have a sort of comprehensible story.

  2. Hey John!
    I think it really depends on the game- there are some fantastic story driven games coming out of companies like Telltale and Bioware (Mass Effect is a Bioware game) but not every game concentrates on story. I think you also have to remember videogames are still a relatively new story telling medium with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. There are some incredibly cool things they can do with visuals and cypher characters, but the game play adds it’s own challenges. A lot of games still use a story as an excuse to get from point A to B but I think that’s changing. If you are interested in interactive stories, I recommend Telltale’s Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us- they are also coming out with a Borderlands and Game of Thrones interactive, so keep your eyes out for those.

  3. Kristi,
    I tend to avoid games that are based on something else, like a film, a TV series or a comic book. I’m not exactly sure why, but it may be something to do with having already experienced the story I have no interest in going through it again in a different medium. I much prefer original material. One honourable exception was The Darkness, which I hadn’t appreciated until after I bought it that it was based on a comic book. And very good it was, too.

  4. Great review!
    MY RATING: 8.5/10

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