Destiny impressions


Well I have had a few days with the most hyped game this year, namely Bungie’s much anticipated open world shooter / MMORPG hybrid ‘Destiny’.  Now I won’t review the game as such, as I am still touching the surface, but my experience playing this game has been fairly positive so far.  I think the fact you are always around other players, playing their own missions and if you want you can just join in, or instead go about your own business is fairly revolutionary for a console game.  Yes it has been done before, most notably in Sega’s Phantasy Star Online, which I played briefly   Yet for the most part MMORPGs have been the stalwart of PC gaming … but with this online-focused generation, it’s becoming the norm more and more in many new games … see the forthcoming The Division.

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As a game it blends aspects of space RPG Mass Effect, as in your character customization and the hub world of The Tower … but on missions it is more like Halo, with a large influence it seems from Borderlands.  For me the general shooting is excellent.  Upgrading weapons, adding to your character, meeting other players and discovering different locations and enemies makes for a great deal of immersive fun.  I wouldn’t say it’s a game I play for the story – it’s vague at best but I am only just starting with that … I play it for the feel, the gorgeous vistas, the satisfying gunplay and the general slickness of it all.  As with Phantasy Star it feels a little repetitive, basically going on a variety of horde-style encounters, surviving until they’re all dead, or your ‘ghost’ scans something and an exit opens up.  Your ghost is an a.i. companion that generally leads the way and comments during the story-based missions, but also comes in handy for scanning the environments for interesting locations or summoning your hover-bike which is another cool aspect and a welcome mode of transport considering the often immense environments.

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Outside of the main game there is also The Crucible, a more traditional multiplayer mode not unlike Halo or Call of Duty but I haven’t played that mode yet.  Probably dip into it later.  I have the Xbox One version of the game and am very impressed with it.  It feels like one of the smoothest games I have played with a rock steady 30fps and a gorgeous 1080p full HD resolution, putting it on pretty-much equal parity with the PS4 version (yes, I’ve read up on that to confirm).  I think anyone who enjoys social-based games or even Halo or decent first person shooters, Destiny is worth a go.  It will only grown in time with Bungie’s ambitious plans for the game, and can see the initial universe expanding to a larger selection of planets … meaning more to explore and more enemies to send back to their makers … most likely at an additional cost.

The game is out on both Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – so what you waiting for?

Destiny Beta – impressions


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Today marked the launch of the Destiny beta for all Xbox One Gold subscribers.  The game already released in beta (trial) mode for the PS4 and now available on all four formats, prior to the game’s official launch on September 9th … is the latest big name game from Halo creators Bungie.  I’d call it a cross between Mass Effect, Halo and those massively multiplayer RPG’s like World of Warcraft.  You create your character, from several races and classes, then you are taken into the game, where a robotic floating ‘ghost’ revives you from the dead on a post-apocalyptic earth.

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Your initial quest is to find a space ship to fly up to the tower, the hub world where you can buy weapons, meet up with other players and go on missions.  It’s fairly standard fair for an MMORPG (although you are free to play it alone) but looks state-of-the-art.  Bungie’s graphics engine is superb, and runs excellently on the XB1 and looks near-identical to it’s PS4 counterpart, as online comparison videos have proven.  Lighting effects, water reflections, particle effects, terrain and characters / animation are all top-notch and this really feels like a next-gen game from the very start … at times the vistas and locations on view are breath-taking.

A good example is this opening footage from Youtube user Maka91Productions:

 

I’ve only played a couple of hours in the Beta and am enjoying it a great deal.  The gunplay is very tactical (you can’t just run in all guns blazing… you have to take it slow, pick enemies off, or it’s game over very quickly … very Halo).  I haven’t sampled the other mode ‘the crucible’, a traditional player verses player death match / hard point arena with various maps – but am sure it will be a worthwhile inclusion.  But what I do want is that beyond the missions here, there is a good, deep and immersive story, which I know Bungie can do, and a return to the awe and complexity of the first Halo’s narrative would be very welcome.

It’s worth noting that the only concern at the moment with the Xb1 version over the PS4 version is that the beta is 900p resolution, compared to the PS4’s 1080p.  Now Bungie have stated that on release the full version of the game will be 1080p / 30fps on both next-gen consoles.  Will this come at any cost, performance, graphical detail / effects?  A video over at IGN.com seems to rubbish such doubts with gorgeous looking footage of Destiny in full 1080p glory.  All I can say is this is the game I was thinking of getting a PS4 for … but now I’m not so sure.

Roll on September 9.

For the love of Mass Effect


 

Mass Effect 2 is the best game I have played in quite a long time.  It’s deep narrative, wealth of absorbing and always fun missions, cast of interesting and well-realised characters, and gameplay mechanics that blend straight forward arcade action with the complexities of RPGs, makes for one of the most fully rounded games I think I have ever got my hands on.  Following on from my initial, positive ‘impressions‘ a little while back, I have since played through the campaign and completed all side missions including downloadable content.  I must also salute the game’s art style, which although using Unreal Engine 3, felt much classier and stylish than you see in the likes of Bullet Storm or Gears Of War. 

To those unacquainted with the Mass Effect series, they are basically Star Trek the video game in all but name.  You start out creating your own character, then become the captain of a starship, and are sent on missions around a huge galaxy filled with planets where you can recruit new members of your crew, solve conflicts and take on evil races, such as the Geth and particularly this time around, the Borg-like Collectors.  The game’s RPG elements allow for branching conversation paths that lead to different outcomes depending on your answers to certain questions, which basically means a second or third play through could lead you into previously unseen situations.  I particularly liked how, whilst the game was challenging in parts, it was never too hard that I stopped enjoying myself, and with brilliant implementation of a cover system and generous checkpoints, this was always a pleasure and never a chore.  Now taking into consideration that I’ve never been able to complete an RPG before, shows that this game (with 37 hours clocked in by the time it ended) offered something games like Final Fantasy XIII or Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion clearly lacked.

If by some major oversite you haven’t played this game yet, I urge you to pick up a copy straight away – you won’t be disappointed.

Mass Effect 2 – impressions


What I played of Mass Effect 1, I enjoyed.  But something about it did not grab me like other cames can.  It was a little too slow, clinical and  old-fashioned, even though the concept was an intriguing one.  You see, the Mass Effect games are basically Star Trek in all but name.  You take control of the captain of a starship (replace Kirk for Sheppard, and the Enterprise for the Normandy) and travel the galaxy completing missions, hiring new crew members, and over  the course of the game building up your abilities and upgrading weapons, whilst following a deep and complex narrative. 

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