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Hindsight : Destiny

Cart: Destiny
Cab: PS3 / PS4 / X360 / XOne / PC
Coin: Bungie

Few people love Halo as much as I do.

From Combat Evolved through to 343 taking the reigns for Halo 4, I’ve worshipped at the altar of this beast longer and harder than most. On and off-line. Sure, there’s cracks to be found in the façade if you look long and hard enough, but Bungie simply nailed a formula with Halo that’s almost impossible to beat – a sense of movement, rhythm and flow that’s a genuine pleasure to rinse and repeat long after the cows come home.

So why was I so averse – like so very many were (and still are) – to the prospect of Destiny?

In a nutshell: the moment it was likened to an MMO, I switched off. Completely. I’ve never been drawn to the grind-like mechanics and mind-numbing click-fest interfaces that MMOs are invariably built upon. In fact, I generally look upon MMO gamers as non-gamers probably look upon all gamers: as brainwashed sheep who’ve lost all grip on reality. For a monthly fee.  The fact that Destiny was made by Bungie – the makers of my favourite flavour of gaming – did nothing to tempt me; it repulsed me even more. I mean, how could they?!

So, I ignored Destiny. Big time. And when the mixed reviews surfaced and general chatter confirmed my suspicions, it disappeared off my radar completely.

Until last week. When I came across a used copy for a ‘what the hell’ kind of price.

Game. On.

Game. On.

As this is likely to be my final article for VoxelArcade, let me take this opportunity to say that I have never been more wrong about a game. Destiny wipes each and every one of my initial criticisms clean away and establishes itself as not just a worthy successor to Halo, but a superior experience. Period.

In terms of basic mechanics: this is Halo. Once you’ve become accustomed to the new paint job (and what a sumptuous paint job it is), you realise that the very same DNA from Halo’s magic formula is present in Destiny. In spades. You know those particularly heated fire-fights in Halo? The ones that leave your heart in your mouth and your fist pumping the air? Well, that’s Destiny. But every ten minutes, not once or twice per level. It’s in these moments, where you alternate between attack and defence in the blink of an eye, almost dancing your way through a skirmish, that you realise Halo wasn’t the Master Chief or Cortana or the Covenant – it was a mechanic. And in Destiny it is reborn, stronger and more refined than ever. And the same applies for multi-player, where Bungie’s effortlessly genius map designers have once again crafted arenas that feel every bit as exciting and fresh as they ever did. Tick and tick.

So what of the much-vaunted MMO features? Well, if MMO gamers are a bunch of wierdos, then count me in. This is a game that genuinely embodies the best of what a persistent-online experience can offer. From finding the odd player going about their business in the campaign to the fluid experience of Patrols to the intense camaraderie found in Skirmishes and Raids; this is a game that embraces online in so many different and subtle ways that there is literally no distinction between you and those around you.

You genuinely feel part of a living world, not an engineered game.

Achingly polished presentation throughout is merely the icing on the cake. Throw in the addictive meta-game of ‘ooh that piece of armour is even shiner that my last one’ and you’re got a formula that takes the stellar DNA mechanic of Halo yet layers upon it even more to keep you engaged and entertained. And don’t listen to what anyone says: the voice-acting and story are just fine. This isn’t a game that’s about fictional character development – it’s about your character’s development. The fact that they’ve inserted plot and characters that are real enough to be interesting but not specific enough to be obtrusive is just further evidence of Bungie’s skill and vision. They simply don’t do anything unless it’s for good reason. Just trust them on this.

It’s been a long time since I played a game that makes me long to get back to it. What a great way to sign-off from VoxelAracde.

Destiny. The clue’s in the title.

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