The Destiny of the shooter

E3 gave us a lot of hype for games, with Nintendo blowing it out if the park with their to-the-point event. But to avoid an admitted fan from gushing all over the paper, a good place to focus would be another company, one that released a public alpha for their latest game.

People may recall developer Bungie as creators of the beloved Xbox shooter <em>Halo</em>. Bungie recently handed the <em>Halo</em> reigns over to 343 Industries and struck out on their own to create a new franchise that would hopefully be their new flagship, the sci-fi shooter <em>Destiny</em>.

The comparison has been made before, but it&rsquo;s far too apt: <em>Destiny</em> plays like <em>Borderlands</em> mixed with <em>Halo</em>. With Bungie&rsquo;s pedigree, the shooting in <em>Destiny</em> is far smoother, and it feels much easier to move around and get headshots without fiddling around with the controls.

And yet, this isn&rsquo;t quite <em>Halo&rsquo;</em>s headshots and shotgun shenanigans. <em>Destiny</em> is following the current trend placing older RPG conventions into the shooter genre.

<em>Borderlands</em> fans will immediately recognize the numbers radiating off of enemies as your shots make their target: the stats of your character, your weapons, and your enemies&rsquo; defence determine how much damage you do. Because of this, instead of just the typical aim-and-shoot of <em>Halo</em>, <em>Destiny</em> adds the always fun gaming trope of getting loot and gear and outfitting yourself with the right equipment that suits your style.

I&rsquo;m a little skeptical to see if Bungie can pull it off as well as Gearbox did. <em>Borderlands</em> employed a massive amount of randomly-generated weapons that could shoot fire or acid. We&rsquo;ll see if <em>Destiny&rsquo;s</em> loot will be as fun to collect and use.

It&rsquo;s ambitious to say the least. Alongside the co-operative exploration and story gameplay, Bungie promises a host of co-operative and competitive modes, which should make plenty of <em>Halo</em> fans happy. The idea of taking my customized character into a match is fun, though the idea of balancing all these characters seems like a nightmare.

Lore has been a strong point for Bungie. While Master Chief wasn&rsquo;t exactly Mister Charisma, the world he inhabited was filled with interesting ideas: eugenics, religious zealot aliens, and the tragedy of Reach. While the story may not be so deep, the lore of <em>Destiny</em> shows promise.

A human civilization spanning the stars is in its twilight; a mysterious benevolent white sphere floats over earth, protecting its last great city. There&rsquo;s potential for some interesting set-pieces and ideas.

Asthetically, the game owes a bit to <em>Halo</em>. While the chunky spartan armour of Master Chief is no longer present, jumping, moving and shooting feels like <em>Halo</em>. Sound design remains similar, meaning at best, weapons have a distinct sound <em>Halo</em> fans may recognize, but at worst, guns can often look weak, almost like a nerf gun.

<em>Destiny&rsquo;s</em> graphics possess much of the futuristic sensibilities Bungie is known for, though with its own particular style, and in the glory of next-gen lighting and clarity. I sensed a bit of a <em>Mass Effect</em> vibe, especially when wandering around the Tower, an area where players can hang out, buy new equipment, and take in some of the scenery.

One wrinkle in the game has actually been the major speaking role during the alpha. Players are accompanied by a small floating robot companion called a Ghost, that is something between <em>Portal 2&rsquo;</em>s Wheatley and <em>Halo&rsquo;</em>s own Guilty Spark. This character is voiced by Peter Dinklage, most famous for playing Tyrion Lannister from <em>Game of Thrones.</em>

The casual, almost sarcastic tone of his voice adds a bit to the character any time the character is required to have any emotion outside of blank exposition. T-Shirts already exist of his hilariously under-performed performance of the line, &ldquo;That Wizard came from the Moon.&rdquo; We can only hope things change later in development.

<em>Destiny</em> is by no means perfect or terrible, but it represents one of the first new franchises that we&rsquo;ve seen this new generation. It seems that the shooter is growing from its military trappings into new mutations: more exploration, more RPG elements, more customization, more freedom, and more than what we were stuck with last gen. I just hope the game lives up to the hype.


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