‘Destiny’ isn’t as revolutionary as ‘Halo,’ but visually stuns

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“Destiny,” the highly anticipated new intellectual property from Bungie — the creators of the revolutionary “Halo” series — has finally hit shelves. Set in the distant future, “Destiny” tells a story of humanity at the brink of extinction after narrowly surviving a mysterious event — known as the Collapse — brought upon by an evil and ominous enemy, the Darkness.  Although the last city on Earth is protected by a large sphere called the Traveler, its power is waning. As a result, humanity’s last hope falls within the hands of the guardians: newly resurrected heroes of the light who have the powers, abilities and skills to push back the Darkness and save the solar system from annihilation. As guardians, players must constantly level up and upgrade themselves in order to be ready for the ensuing war against humanity’s many foes.

This game is quite lore-heavy, asking for players to thoroughly engage in the game world and effectively immerse themselves in its universe. Unfortunately, this immersion is only a half-hearted effort due to the game’s disappointing story. In the 15- to 20-hour story, there are very few cut-scenes or strong supporting characters. In addition, the ending doesn’t represent much more than a cliffhanger, pointing players to the extensive list of activities to participate in after the game ends. Most of these activities are already available during the campaign, but can be accomplished at higher levels after the completion of the story.

While there is much to do in the game world of “Destiny,” most of these activities continue to follow the same formulas over and over again, resulting in a repetitive mission structure that starts to lose its pizazz. The mission structure for the campaign missions, for instance, follows a set trajectory: go here, have a guardian’s small robotic companion scan that, shoot them, hear some lore, rinse and repeat. While activities such as Strikes — triple-player missions with boss battles — can offer more variety to the experience, players also start to lose interest once they’ve been completed. While the Crucible — the player-versus-player game mode — allows for longer periods of continued engagement, there is little diversity in the game types. This lack of continual engagement becomes even more prevalent due to the infrequency of loot drops in the game. It becomes harder and harder to find the loot needed to upgrade, especially after reaching the soft cap of level 20.

But despite these shortcomings, “Destiny” delivers in many other aspects.

At its heart, “Destiny,” like its predecessor “Halo,” is first and foremost a sci-fi, first-person shooter. And in this regard, it fires on all cylinders. The range of weapons is extensive; each gun type feels different from the others, and the shooting mechanics are great. The controls are responsive and fast, rewarding players with quicker kills if they can pull off headshots. In addition, the use of double jump allows for a more invigorating feel of freedom and movement in the game world. Leaping over and around enemies comes in handy when cover is scarce or far away, and the power of each class’s melee attacks gives players an extra sense of bad-assery when in a tight spot.

The feel of character progression is also impressive. There are three different classes in “Destiny:”  Warlocks, Hunters and Titans. Each class feels a bit different from the other, as each type favors different play styles. The Hunter is better equipped for speed, the Titan is better equipped for strength and the Warlock is better equipped for recovery. As players progress, they can continue to further customize their guardian to the character of their choice.

Finally, the game is incredibly gorgeous. The game world is beautiful, resembling an oil painting in motion. Each world, whether it’s Venus, Mars, Earth or the moon, has its own unique environment, landmarks and enemies.

While “Destiny” is by no means as “revolutionary” as “Halo” was, it still proves to be a unique, enjoyable first person shooter with some well-adjusted role-playing game mechanics.

“Destiny” was released Tuesday.

Contact Evan Stallworth Carr at [email protected].