Saturday, September 13, 2014

Destiny, the game not the philosophical power

I played some Destiny on PS4 not long after the release and my initial feelings were positive.  I debated buying the game because I have any number of PS2, PSP, PS3, and DS games that are still in shrinkwrap.  Disclaimer: I work for Gamestop.  Because of my job, I am surrounded by games and previews.  They haunt me, taunting with their bright cover art and promotion items.  Not to give the wrong impression, it isn't huge, but I do get a modest discount on games and used items.  It stacks with the Power Up Rewards card so I usually buy used, unless it's an RPG since those used to be hard to find after they sold out (Shin Megami Tensei games, Rogue Galaxy, Atelier, anyone?).  Basically, it's easy for me to buy games.  Lots of games.

Since buying a house, going back to school, having a third child, and buying a minivan to transport said child (and siblings), my gaming budget has been reduced.  I also reached a point where it wasn't fun to shop for games anymore.  It was kind of sad, to be honest.  The moment arrived when I didn't want anything new.  I lost my passion for games.  Fortunately, my third child would nurse and take tummy naps on me, leaving me with nothing to do, but play games (sister goes to school and brother takes regular naps).  Yes, I probably could have done something else, like catch up on several TV series, which I did do until catching up to current series.  Point being, I started actually PLAYING the games I owned.  Why buy more when I have such a backlog of amazing titles?

As stated, I tried Destiny.  I recently bought a used PS4 and only have a few games for it.  Most notably, Diablo 3 Ultimate Edition.  I love Diablo.  My husband and I play it together and the guy who introduced us joins in occasionally, but I knew everyone else would be getting Destiny.  Enough of them have asked me if I was planning on purchasing.  I said I'd check it out sometime, but could wait.  Apparently not.  Today, after returning Destiny yesterday, I began to miss it.  I even played some Diablo to take my mind off of it.  Just didn't cut it so I rounded up some old PS3 games and traded them in.  It hurt a little, but I know that I can always re-buy the games I traded, in newer single-disc-space-saving collections (Assassin's Creed: Ezio's Trilogy and God of War Saga).  To be honest, I haven't even touched the PS3 since buying the PS4 and I feel a little guilty about that.

Let me tell you why I broke down and bought Destiny.  Some background information: Destiny is an MMO-RPG-FPS (for those who don't know, Massively-Multiplayer-Online-Role-Playing-Game-First-Person-Shooter).  It's made by Bungie, who created Halo, an extremely popular kind-of-revolutionary FPS.  I have experience with some fantasy style MMO's like World of Warcraft and Conan: Age of Hyboria and experience with RPG's.  I didn't really get into Final Fantasy (except the 16-bit ones), which is the series most people think of, but I really like the Tales series, Mega Ten games, and blended titles like Borderlands, Fallout, and Mass Effect, that combine RPG elements with First or Third Person Shooting.  I love the upgrade systems and rewards for actions like kills and quest completion.  I also love loot.

Destiny is possessing of all those elements.  There are always other players around that will often help if you encounter a particularly challenging foe (unless you're in a story mission), you can party with your friends (online only and not the BYOB kind....well, that's not completely true, you can still BYOB), and your character levels up.  You can even upgrade your gear.  The environment is also relatively sprawling and it looks gorgeous.  The soundtrack creates a feeling of unease as you walk through dark hallways in abandoned warehouses with naught but a flickering bulb to light your way.  Equally terrifying for me are fights involving numerous enemies and a "miniboss" (if you can call them that).  They're enemies that have some sort of shield and move very shiftily, although I have adapted to a duck-and-weave strategy that often ends in firing round after round of ammunition and a punch to the face (usually not my face).  Hallways are your friends when facing small hordes and so are random containers distributed throughout the environments, which are amazing.  Maybe it's because I'm playing the PS4 version, but the details are precise, colors are vibrant, textures are realistic, and shadows move accurately.  It looks post-apocalyptic, but lacks the paleness of Fallout 3, and that's a good thing.

Some things to note: it doesn't have the looting extravaganza that you'll find it Borderlands or Diablo, nor do you possess a weight limit like Fallout; however, there are loot chests scattered around that contain currency and materials.  Compared to the majority of titles I play, I don't feel pressed to explore every nook and cranny.  It's unlikely to be rewarded.  I also don't get the benefit of clearing my map since there isn't one, strictly speaking.  There's a round "compass" that points towards your objective.  Also, in contrast to other RPG's, I find the leveling system to be mildly sluggish.  I completed several side missions in an attempt to match the level of the story mission, but found it time-consuming and slightly repetitive.  There are a lot of fetch missions that involve killing enemies to collect materials.  The good news is that you usually don't need to acquire too many of said items.

Overall, I have a very strong crush on this game.  I wouldn't say I'm in love (Borderlands might think I'm cheating on it), but it's a possibility and next to Diablo 3, it's the best thing I'm playing on PS4 (until I open my Last of Us Remastered Edition).  It's certainly the best shooter, for me personally.  AND for anyone hesitant to shell out $50 for a Playstation Plus membership, do it.  It's worth it for all the free games you'll get to download, especially if you already have a PS Vita or PS3 since it works across all three current Sony platforms and allows multiple users on the PS4 to access your downloads.  Seriously, you'll thank me later.

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