Destiny is like an ex girlfriend you hate, but you keep coming back to because you have low self esteem. Fundamentally, there are some great moments, but enough flaws to remind you why you broke up in the first place. Yet, I keep finding myself playing Destiny despite it being one of the most frustrating gaming experiences in recent memory. Destiny is a first person shooter/MMO hybrid. Bungie refuses to call it an MMO and refers to the game as a “Shared World Shooter,” but lets be real…it’s an MMO. You will do quests, explore dungeons, play multiplayer, and go on raids. It is kinda cool at first glance to see how well these two genres mesh, but after you reach the level 20 level cap you will find nothing but an underwhelming hollow experience. Destiny’s story is the biggest train wreck with every plot point falling flat and a sense that no one at Bungie was on the same page on what the story should be. The plot revolves around the guardian who meets a robot companion named ghost. The guardian sees the seeker and finds out they must stop the darkness. The plot is so basic that I can’t even remember the names of anyone within the game. Stars like Peter Dinklidge and Nathan Fillion are voice actors, but their performances are so poorly written and phoned in that I wouldn’t be shocked if they actually recorded the lines over the phone. It’s hard to even criticize the plot of Destiny since there is so little to the plot that I can’t criticize anything. Destiny’s design is of a standard MMO with some twists to fit the FPS genre. Some design choices are great such as playing with friends and the well- established factions within the game. On the other hand Destiny makes so many mistakes that it makes the entire game a boring chore. Simply put, this is the most lonely MMO I have ever played. Matchmaking doesn’t exist for many strikes and there’s is no player auction house or even public chat. Everyone just stands around and no one talks with each other because they can’t. The loot system is horrendous with the concept of end game being revolved around what loot you have on. This wouldn’t be a problem if loot drops ever occurred at all. Many players have already resorted to exploiting the game’s checkpoint system to farm loot since it happens so rarely. The worst part is when you obtain an engram. Engrams are blueprints for higher-tiered weapons and armor, but every time I would obtain a rare or legendary engram it would give me either useless currency or a much lower-tiered weapon. Destiny’s grind for better loot is so tedious since 50% of the time you won’t be rewarded for it. The same goes for the Crucible, which is Destiny’s standard multiplayer arena. Skill isn’t a factor since a legendary item has the same chance of going to the dead last player as well as the first place player. It’s so unfair and unbalanced since the reward system is random, players with better gear will always win in PVP, and most of the tasks in Destiny require a good 45 minutes to an hour to complete sometimes. Putting in that much time and effort only to not be reward is a slap in the face from Bungie. The repetitive nature of the game as a whole means that unless Bungie does a quick turnaround with Destiny expect NO ONE to be playing this unrewarding disaster in 3 month’s time. Destiny does retain the great shooting mechanics from Halo and crafts a believable world that you initially want to explore. The problem is while gunplay can be a blast…exploring is basically non-existent. There are chests everywhere with crap loot and currency. The world of Destiny doesn’t do anything with its lore and actually hides the game’s lore behind grimoire cards, which you can only view on Destiny’s app or website. This leaves us with a faux open world, AI that constantly respawns and never changes their tactics, and some of the worst boss fights in gaming history. Regardless of your level boss fights within Destiny are incredibly tedious with each boss being a bullet sponge that takes upwards to 45 minutes to take down. The worst part is the boss’ checkpoint system, which starts the whole fight over if your team dies. Most strikes I’ve been in where our team dies everyone ends up quitting since we don’t have the patience to shoot the same boss over and over again. Destiny looks beautiful on the PS4 with a great sweeping orchestral soundtrack. Unfortunately, it also has no art. The locations, character designs, and atmosphere come across as every single shooter and space game I’ve ever played. The game is generic and has some of the worst cutscenes in gaming history with flat acting, poor writing, and most never move the plot along. The worst offense with these cutscenes is how they’re impossible to skip and given the repetitive nature of Destiny you will be forced to watch their mediocrity over and over again. It was almost as if Bungie had a checklist while making Destiny, but never looked at the finer bullet points. Story? Check. Loot? Check. PVP? Check. Everything about Destiny works on a basic level, but the experience is so frustrating and so hollow the further you dive into what Destiny has to offer. It does have moments of brilliance since I am somehow still playing it and it has the potential to get better with numerous patches, but in its current state Destiny is destined for mediocrity. Story: 2.1/10 Design: 4.2/10 Gameplay: 8.4/10 Presentation: 7/10 Final Score: 5.4
Greatness is Here…for the most part.
The PS4 came swinging out of E3 putting Microsoft to shame and building a massive hype train. Sony’s marketing team leading up to the PS4 release used a more subdued approach. Sony struck hard at E3 and then quieted down letting Microsoft take the spotlight as they tried to recover. Gamers were concerned about the silence leading up to release wondering if Sony could deliver on their promises. Others were concerned that the PS4 didn’t have much to offer and that’s why Sony was quiet. Now that the PS4 has launched it is fact that Sony can deliver a sleek, fast, accessible gaming console. Even if it appears to be on a Diet.
The PS4 is a tiny, quiet, and fierce little machine. The design will make tech heads squeal with delight since the PS4 is gorgeous. The sleek design and small size are only made better by the silence of the console. No more PS3 fans sounding like a Metallica concert, the PS4 is extremely impressive for it’s size. The box itself is also simple containing a Dualshock 4, an HDMI cord, and a power cord with no brick attached. It is simple and setup is extremely quick and easy. You will be up and playing within minutes. Sony also has included a month of PS+ as well as $10 to get you started on the PSN Store. Aw thanks Sony you guys rock!
The Dualshock 4 itself is a masterpiece and will go down as one of the best controllers ever made. It just feels “Right” with the controller fitting perfectly within your hands. Buttons are responsive, triggers are fantastic, and the analog sticks are perfect. Any flaws the Dualshock 3 had have been address and the add ons are even better. The clickable touchpad is responsive with developers making gimmicky yet practical uses within games such as Killzone. The only issue I have with the controller is the location of the “Option” and “Share” buttons. They’re in an awkward position so half the time I tried to pause the game I would click in the touchpad on accident. It takes some getting used to and the share button as of right now is limited and doesn’t have much use. Despite these minor annoyances the Dualshock 4 is the next-gen controller we deserved.
The PS4 interface is simple and effective with only a few small issues. The main screen is made up of three bars of content stacked on top of each other with the highlighted bar increasing in size taking center stage. The top bar handles all the console gizmos such as PSN, settings, friends, and profile. The middle bar is software and apps. And the bottom bar is in-depth info with game details and recent activity. It is extremely simple to navigate and the design itself is sleek and organized. Unfortunately, the PS4’s interface doesn’t have a ton of content at the moment so the console feels a little bare bones at time. The other issue is the lack of control when downloading games. Users can’t make a certain download a priority unless all other active downloads are deleted. The absence of a pause download button is puzzling, but is only a minor misstep in the big world of Playstation.
Sony’s launch lineup does its best to make up for the quantity of games by providing great quality. Knack is flawed, but still a fun game. Killzone is gorgeous and a solid entry in the franchise, but the indies truly stepped up their game. Resogun is a fast paced thrill ride with plenty of eye candy and Contrast is a unique platformer with a great Paris atmosphere. Considering these indie games are both free with PS+ makes them a definite addition to the PS4 library. The apps on the PS4 are not as robust as the Xbox One, but what is here will surely please the gamer. Mainstays like Netflix and Hulu are there as well as the inclusion of Twitch. Being able to stream console games (Before Xbox One) is fantastic and hopefully Sony and Twitch work out the kinks since archiving is nonexistent. The real highlight though is the remote play feature. Being able to use the Playstation Vita with the PS4 is fully realized and impressive and leaves Nintendo kicking rocks with the similar WiiU. The Vita can be used as an additional controller, remote play of any PS4 game, and also as a second screen similar to Smart Glass. The All-in-One box isn’t the Xbox One or the PS4…it is the Vita. The real winners here are Vita owners since the PS4 integration is truly impressive!
Minor issues aside, Sony has delivered a fantastic new console for the game industry. An incredible controller, accessible interface, and remote play shows that Sony understands gamers and provides them with what they desire. Even if the PS4 hiccups every once and awhile the respect between consumer and Sony is evident keeping gamers optimistic for future upgrades to the console and software lineup. Greatness may still await for many, but what Sony has done with the PS4 is damn impressive so far.
Final Score: 8.7/10
The Best Survival Horror Game in Years.
Don’t be fooled by the Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic; Knack will end you. This PS4 Launch title attempts to bring back nostalgia for classic 3D platformers through its simple combat, all-ages story, and great level design. Unfortunately, what we got is a version of Dark Souls that no gamer should ever see. Knack is harder than a Viagra overdose and anyone who dares play it must understand that Knack is a place in hell demons dare not enter.
Our titular hero Knack is a lab experiment tasked with helping the humans in a battle against the local goblin threat. Knack is made up of relics and is able to increase and decrease in size depending on the relics around him. The story is geared towards children and gives enough of a solid reason to push Knack through the linear corridors and hellish combat. It’s just unfortunate that this story never dives deeper into Pixar territory and leaves many details out about the world of Knack. I would’ve loved more back story for all the characters since they oozed charm, but instead they’re all one dimensional and predictable every step of Knack’s journey.
Whoever designed Knack is an asshole (or Mark Cerney). Knack is extremely fragile with the most basic grunt able to finish him after 1-2 hits. Enemies don’t drop health and finding the health regenerating relics are hard to come by. This is made even more frustrating by the game’s sad excuse for checkpoints. Knack’s vulnerability leads to many deaths often sending the player back past previous battles. Be prepared to play the same areas over and over again with enemies showing no mercy to Knack. The game may be rated E, but this living room was filled with profanity towards Knack and his goblin foes. The game’s difficulty is extremely frustrating since Knack was designed to be accessible and geared towards a younger audience. Each battle leaves the player hanging on by the skin of their teeth and despite the initial frustration…it somehow works! Knack is the best survival horror game I’ve played in years! The tension of each fight and Knack’s vulnerability means pulling off a clean run from checkpoint to checkpoint is one of the most rewarding experiences in years. All of Knack’s design flaws are easily huge design flaws, but somehow… in some weird way…Mark Cerney and his team made it work and Knack is better for it.
Knack’s brutal difficulty curve is contrasted by the simplistic gameplay. Knack hits things or jumps and does a homing attack to hit things. The gameplay never evolves beyond this emphasizing perfectly timed input from the player over gameplay evolution. Each individual battle within Knack plays out the exact same with the enemies evolving at the same pace as the simple gameplay. Since Knack dies in 1-2 hits though, the battles have a survival tension that is only rivaled by Dark Souls. Knack surprisingly shares a lot with Dark Souls with trial and error taking center stage as Knack gets killed by hidden traps and other “You gotta be shitting me!” moments. Knack can also increase in size depending on the relics in the area. This leads to an increase in the health bar, which initially fools players into thinking that Knack is about to get more forgiving. It is a GOD DAMN LIE. If Knack gets bigger, then the enemies get larger and can still end his existence in one hit. The only sanctuary for the player is within Knack’s many intrusive cutscenes. These cutscenes highlight the most mundane things possible such as Knack jumping down from a ledge and looking around. This happens so often that one would rather just have a black screen saying “NOW LOADING MORE SHIT.” than these pointless cutscenes.
Knack’s visuals attempt to make use of the PS4’s power, but come across as a cheap Dreamwork’s sequel. The game is at its best when Knack has millions of relics making up his body only to watch all those relics cover the screen after one hit. The amount of tiny little relics on screen is impressive and the game’s world and setting is vibrant and unique…That is until Knack dies 10 times and the player is forced to play the same area again and again. The game doesn’t look bad, but Knack isn’t the kind of game to show off to your friends who still have last-gen consoles.
Through its 13 chapters players will deal with simplistic combat, Knack’s vulnerability, intrusive cutscenes, and a sad attempt to rekindle the platformers of the late 90’s. Knack’s difficulty curve is ridiculous for a supposed kid’s game and profanities will be tossed around frequently. Knack is a flawed game with many problems. Knack is not the system seller for the PS4. Knack kicked my ass…and I loved every damn minute of it.
Final Score: 7.9/10