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Destiny Review

Finally playing Destiny and knowing what the hell it is is kind of strange. For the longest time Destiny was an enigma. It would show up at every Sony conference, the press would play and come away from it not sure what type of game Bungie was making. Was it an MMO, a FPS with loot and RPG elements ala Borderlands, or just another story driven FPS from the studio? Well after playing the final game it is clear that Bungie tried to make all three of these games, but it doing so have created a game that is beautiful to look at and plays great but has no identity.

The first thing that stood out to me when playing Destiny was just how solid the gameplay was. All of the different types of weapons are fun to use and just feel really tight. Bungie nailed it when it comes to playability and general feel. Destiny is one of the best playing shooters I’ve ever played, and interacting with its world by shooting at everything that moves is really entertaining.

The second part of the game that really makes a great first impression are the visuals. Destiny is a god damn beautiful video game with exquisite art design. All four of the environments look stunning and draw you into the world of the game with amazing attention to detail and some excellent lighting effects. My favorite planet is Venus, with its lush jungles, orange rivers and energy pulsing out from beneath the ground. Bungie has created a undoubtedly gorgeous world that just begs to be explored, and unfortunately that is where the problems start.

The world of Destiny feels empty. There are a ton of place to go but the game never rewards you for it. Sure, sometimes you may find a chest, but is most likely just some enemies or another empty cave. I wanted to explore Destiny’s world, but Bungie was clearly not interested in creating that kind of game. Instead, the way to get better loot is to play the same missions over and over again and hope for some good drops.

This would be forgivable if Destiny offered a varied, diverse host of different missions to play in search of this loot. What we have instead are missions that are basically all the exact same formula. Arrive on planet, shoot some aliens, have your little ghost buddy scan something, defend your ghost buddy by shooting more aliens, and then there is usually a stronger enemy you have to kill. This is it. Literally that is it. No imagination or creativity went into any of the mission designs. It is bordering on insulting that Bungie thought that this would be acceptable. However, the disappointments do not end with the mission design. 

The story in Destiny may be the worst video game story in modern memory, which is saying something given the standards of the medium. Every single piece of dialog in this game is meaningless, every cutscene is unintelligible, and I could not tell you a single characters name. I do not understand any single piece of this narrative. It is unbelievable. I do not really even know what else to say about it since I couldn’t go in to detail since I understood zero of it. It is a mess.

The post-game content is focused on getting better gear that has a unit called “light” associated with it. Light will level your player past the level cap of 20. While this is a cool idea, it does not really work for me since the loot in the game is so inconsistent. I’ve played through strikes multiple time and received no items with any light which makes that whole strike seem worthless. Also, having to replay the same repetitive missions over and over again is not really that appealing, no matter how good the shooting is. 

The competitive section of the game, the Crucible is a lot of fun since it is focused on what the game does so well, the combat. It needs more maps, but brining your campaign weapons into multiplayer to level them up by shooting other players is fun. The campaign abilities transition over to multiplayer smoothly and killing other players with one shot with my hunter’s golden gun is really empowering.  

With all of that being said, I still enjoyed my time with Destiny. Yes, the mission design is stale and unimaginative, the story is a complete fucking disaster and the loot and leveling systems are frustrating. But Destiny is fun to play, and stays fun to play for a long time. I’ve continued to play the game longer than I thought I would based off of that fun factor alone. Still, Destiny a deeply flawed and profoundly disappointing game. If you are a fan of shooters you will most likely enjoy it, but in its current state it is hard to recommend at full price. 


Top Ten of The Generation: Number One

Every aspect of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is so fucking incredible that it is hard for me to articulate why without sounding like a crazy person. It is the most pure, fun and creative piece of interactive entertainment I have ever experienced. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a stunning piece of software that I doubt Nintendo will ever be able to top.

The original Mario Galaxy was an amazing video game, but this sequel makes it look like a tutorial for what they had planned. The level design in this game is masterful, with each level introducing new and unique ideas, that other, lesser developers could build a whole game around. Nintendo instead rarely reuses any of their ideas or gameplay concepts and it keeps the game moving at a blistering pace. Each new level is exciting because there is literally no telling what it will be. The amount of creativity and originality in a single Galaxy 2 level is more than most games accomplish throughout their entirety. 

The controls are perfect, there is a never a moment when you feel like you failed because of the controls or the camera. Mario controls with precision and you always know what you are capable of. You would think a game that is constantly changing the rules of it’s world could have it’s moments of confusion or frustration. Even with the game constantly toying with perspective, gravity and player control, you never feel lost. Everything is explained expertly through visuals and it all just feels incredibly natural. 

Galaxy 2 also looks stunning for a Wii game. The art design is spectacular and each level looks just as impressive as the one before it. This is a game that demands an HD remaster and I hope Nintendo gets around to delivering on that. The soundtrack is also one of the best in series history, which is saying something. The tracks are iconic and just hearing makes me instantly feel nostalgic for the game. 

Nintendo have been the masters at the platforming genre since it’s inception, but with Super Mario Galaxy 2 they perfected it. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best platformer ever made, the best game Nintendo has ever made, and my pick for the single greatest game I have ever played. Video games do not get any better than this, this is pure joyous gaming ecstasy that anyone with a heart should experience for themselves. It exemplifies what makes video games different from all other forms of media, the fact that is interactive. It does not try to tell a touching story or build relatable characters, it is only interested in creating a beautiful playground for you to loose yourself into. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a video game, it is not trying to be anything else, and that is what is so great about it. 

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 2

Bioshock Infinite is the greatest example of world building I can think of. Everything about Columbia was created with so much thought, creativity and detail that I was completely absorbed into it’s world. The atmosphere of the world that Irrational created was so singular and unlike anything I had ever experienced.

The story, writing, characters and ideas expressed in this game is the gold standard that all story based games should strive towards. Audio diaries may be a cliche in game narrative, but it is used to such great effect in this game that it is easily forgiven. The writing and acting in these audio diaries is captivating and really helps give the world of Columbia context and history. The story is excellently told and will keep you in suspense until it’s final moments, and the game’s ending had me thinking about the game for weeks after I had finished it. 

The actual gameplay if also some of the most exciting and intense first person shooting I can remember. The combination of guns, vigors and skyhook kept combat fun and interesting throughout the whole game. The sound design during combat is also amazing and really helps make the combat feel so satisfying. 

While the gameplay is strong, it is easily the least memorable part of the game. What I will always remember about this game is the awe inspiring visuals, the amazing narrative, the perfect, quotable dialog and it’s characters. Booker and Elizabeth’s journey was so full of perfect moments, both small and large, from Elizabeth dancing on the pier to a surprise return to Rapture.

BIoshock Infinite is a game that I have been waiting my whole life for. A game that perfectly tells a story while also not betraying what makes video games so great in the first place. It does this so well that I really don’t think that Infinite would work as anything else. The story is so successful and commentary so poignant because it is an interactive piece of fiction. It comments on choices in games and lack of creativity in many game franchises while also managing to tell its own satisfying tale. Bioshock Infinite is a special game, and one I will never forget. It is one of those rare games that I love every moment of and wouldn’t change anything about it. In short, it is perfect.

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