‘Destiny’ (2014) review (Week 1): Just what is ‘Destiny’?

Editor’s note: So, “Destiny” is an enormous game, far too expansive to review within a week’s time. So I decided to follow the lead of several other outlets and break it up into smaller weekly updates about the game with a comprehensive review when I’ve completed the main story line. Check back here for further updates.

‘Destiny’ a strange but engaging mash-up of genres

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what “Destiny” is. For the few hours I’ve played it, I felt as though I was taken to worlds reminscient of “Halo” or “Borderlands” or “World of Warcraft.” Epic firefights, beautifully lush worlds and interaction with live and non-playerable charcters (NPCs) abound. You can level up and buy or locate better armor and weaponry similar to role-playing games (RPGs). Add to that an always-online system that rewards cooperative gameplay much more lavishly than going it alone, and you can see why I don’t quite know how to describe “Destiny.”

The problem, though, lies in a simple adage: Too many cooks spoil the broth. While “Destiny” is shaping up to be fantastic overall, its seem each individual component is outclassed by games that focus purely on that one aspect.

For instance, story-wise, “Destiny’s” tome of an intergalactic Traveler — a city-sized alien sphere that ushered humanity into a golden age of space travel and the being that gave humanity a fighting chance against its greatest foe — seems engrossing. But it doesn’t take long for the promise of that lore to fall to the wayside mainly because you’re never given more information than “Here’s your mission, now go.” What little you do learn on your point-and-shoot adventures as a Guardian (aka savior of all that is good and holy) is gleaned from the Peter Dinklage-voiced Ghost who travels with you. The Ghosts, a floating ball of incredibly advanced technology, are a gift from the Traveler in “its dying breath” and act as AI supports for the Guardians.

Other than that, though, there isn’t much meaningful dialogue to intrigue you or scripted events to illuminate you.

On the flip side, though, “Destiny” does have quite a nominal dialogue with its NPCs roaming about. Every character has something to say or do for you, which a notch above most massively multiplayer online games (think “WoW.”) Then again, if we’re talking about MMOs, it should probably be mentioned that the levels are a bit constrained in comparison. Not that they’re lacking in areas in which to use your increasingly awesome weapons and powers, “Destiny” is closer to “Borderlands” than “Guild Wars.”

But all of this comparison leads to another problem: “Destiny” isn’t “WoW” or “Borderlands” or just a first-person shooter like “Halo” (though, being designed by Bungie, you would be forgiven if you thought you were playing a “Halo” game; even the controls feel familiar). So if you go in thinking you’re getting something specific (like an FPS or an MMO), you’re probably not going to find what you want.

And a note to those who don’t enjoy playing their games with other: “Destiny,” which you can complete mostly solo, should come with a big caution flag for you. “Destiny” is made for multiplayer. The missions and fights are built for cooperative intelligence. Besides, the games losses a bit of its luster if you try to run it alone. So be warned.

As of now, “Destiny” is a gorgeous burst of firefights and multiplayer bliss, but it would be hard to say exactly what type of game this is. It’s divisive and loose in its focus, though I’m still having an amazing time trying to save humanity from the Darkness trying to overwhelm us. Still, “Destiny” comes with heavy expectations, and it’s up to the game and the players (and maybe the extra content coming out later this year) to make those expectations a reality.

Editor’s note: This limited-edition version of “Destiny” is being reviewed on the PS4 and will be completed cooperatively to the best of my ability. If you feel like joining the adventure, my PlayStation Network ID is domo0025.

This game will receive a rating once completed.

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Above, a scene from "Destiny." (Photo credit: Activision)

Above, a scene from “Destiny.” (Photo credit: Activision)

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