Before its shooter Destiny came out last week, Bungie, a game developer known for creating the Halo series, warned that early reviews of its new game won’t likely reflect the actual experience. Well, it’s been almost a week since Destiny’s release and the trickle of reviews have now turned into a steady stream of analyses.
Here are some snippets from a few notable Destiny reviews:
But Destiny is so smooth and polished that it feels antiseptic. Worse, the game is monotonous and poorly paced. There are different aliens on different planets, but they all behave in very similar ways. There’s always the big one, the nimble one and the one that charges you. The shootouts are akin to listening to the same pop song for dozens of hours straight. Catchy, you think. Wait, is this all there is? And then: Oh no, not again.
The biggest problem Destiny faces is that, despite the technical magnificence of blending its shooter, MMO, and RPG components into a cohesive whole, and delivering a lag-free online experience, it doesn’t really feel like anything new. Strip away the polish, the finesse, the dazzle — of which there’s plenty — and you’re left with a few new ways to shoot dudes in the face. Or alien bug monsters who may not technically have faces in the traditional sense, but you get the idea. It feels as though Bungie has tried to catch lightning in a bottle again, but that’s rarely a feat that happens by design. Halo became a phenomenon through word of mouth as much as marketing. Will the same be said for Destiny, a decade on?
So here’s the thing: I love Destiny. I love every minute of it. I love repeating quests. I love grinding for gear. I love doing it all with my friends. I love the tactics you need to succeed. I love how colourful everything is and the matte-painting like vistas. I love the stupid arch-Shakespearean goofy self-seriousness of everything. I love how distinctly weird Peter Dinklage’s performance is. I adore the soundtrack.
I played 20 hours of the game over the course of a day-and-a-half and I want to play more right now. This game has its hooks in me fiercely. And that’s why my review’s score is a 9.5. However, I very much could see a player being turned off by having to repeat missions, by overly-long boss fights and the very specific storytelling techniques or the fact that everything feels ripped out of a pulpy sci-fi novel that thinks it’s important.
Destiny feels like a very specific kind of ice cream made just for me (and people like me). I hope you’re one of those people too, because Destiny is a treat.
Destiny is a great prologue, but it is still just a prologue. It’s like telling somebody all about Middle Earth; the races, the lands, the set up for the story, but not telling them of Bilbo’s adventures in The Hobbit or the fellowship’s journey in The Lord of the Rings. While it is not the story, there is a certain pull to Destiny that keeps me coming back for more. Bungie have created something special that I think we will see continue to bloom in their persistent support of the game. Destiny is organic in presentation and execution, and like going on a hike on your favorite trail, is never quite the same each time you play. I am still having a ton of fun in this world and can see myself getting many more hours of fun in the weeks and months to come.
It’s somewhat ironic that Bungie makes a big deal about how “alive” Destiny is, because of all the games I’ve played recently, few feel quite so static and cold. Indeed, the overly hyped deal between Halo’s creators and Activision has been home to all manner of pretentious attempts to call an orange a banana – it’s not an MMO, it’s a “shared-world shooter” in a “mythic science fiction” universe. Except it’s not really those things. At its core, Destiny is an MMO, in a derivative science fiction universe.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the gamut of Destiny reviews, it’s that the professional critics don’t seem to have some sort of consensus this time. Sure, opinions among reviewers may vary; I’m just a bit surprised that Destiny’s ratings are all over the place. There are a few near-perfect scores, some are in the 80s, and there are a few in the 70s and 60s.
Some praise the game for its polish and performance; others love grinding for gear; while others are turned off by the repetition.
Who knows? Maybe Activision’s massive hype machine conditioned my brain to expect consistently high scores. Besides, we’re talking about Bungie here.
What about you? How are you finding the game so far? Which Destiny reviews do you agree with? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!