Recently I was invited to participate in the alpha for Bungie’s new game Destiny. I was able to try out one of the game’s story mission’s, explore a massive slice of the game world as well as a three team raid and the multiplayer. I wanted to share my thought’s with everyone who might be on the fence about the game. First off Destiny is a absolute stunner with gorgeous lighting and incredible vista’s, helping to bring this amazing science fiction world to life. I started off the alpha with the story mission which had me checking out activity in an old array station. The mission was pretty straight forward in it’s design but it did showcase how Destiny goes from open world MMO/RPG to tight responsive first person shooter and doesn’t miss a beat. Once I finished the mission I was set loose into a huge slice of the game’s open world, there was a airplane graveyard, a shipyard filled with massive ships, rusted and falling apart. Destiny does a great job of making it’s world varied and interesting to explore. The game then allowed me to scan for beacons that give the player a side mission to do, most of them being kill X number of enemies or kill a certain enemy or gather X amount of a certain item, these missions are a welcome distraction but they aren’t anything special and they do start to repeat after completing a few of them. I then decided to take part in a CO OP mission with two other players in which we had to destroy a target. The CO OP runs pretty well, with only match that had a minimal amount of lag. The three character classes work well in the CO OP with each player having their own skills and special powers with which to combat the various alien races with. The only issue I had with the CO OP was that at times it feels like you need more players with how things are balanced. I spent some of my time in the alpha at the hub area where the player can buy new armor and weapons as well as customize their ship and join their friend’s. Finally I jumped into a round of the game’s multiplayer and give it a shot. I personally did not like the multiplayer all that much, it has a very Halo feel to it with players having shields and being able to jump into the air and rain hell on other players, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. However I can see the multiplayer getting a pretty big community behind it in the weeks and months after Destiny’s launch. Overall my thought’s of Destiny are overwhelmingly positive, the alpha showcased a lot more than I was expecting it to show, giving me just a small slice of what the game has to offer. With an open beta in the coming months and release soon after, I can say that Destiny is looking like it is gonna live up to all the hype and be one of the biggest games of 2014.
The third game in the Arkham series, Batman Arkham Origins is a prequel that attempts to tell the story of a young and inexperienced Batman. Crime boss The Black Mask places a fifty million dollar bounty on the Batman’s head. This draws eight of the world’s deadliest assassins to Gotham City, including the likes of Deathstroke, Bane, and Firefly. The story takes place over one night around Christmas time. The story is told very well. The twists and turns that the story takes kept me hooked until the very end. The eight assassins aren’t all that interesting with the exception of Bane and Deathstroke. The major plot twist is very easy to see coming and it dampens the impact of the reveal. The story overall is a fantastic Tale with great supporting characters, even with some les than interesting side characters the story is still captivating and had me hooked.
Gameplay- The Gameplay in Origins retains much of what made the past Arkham games so great. The freeflow combat, the predator stealth sections, and the amazing feeling that you are the Batman. Origins attempts to freshen up the formula by adding in new moves and requiring you to use Batman’s gadgets during combat in a more offensive capacity. One place where Origins shines is in it’s boss battles against the eight assassins. Each battle is test of the skills that you learned throughout the game, be it countering against Deathstroke or using crowd control against Copperhead. The Gameplay does however feel less polished and less smooth than the previous two Arkham games. Overall the Gameplay in Origins is still as fun as it was in the previous games yet at the same time it feels very similar while also feeling less polished.
Graphics- The graphics in Origins are an improvement over the prior Arkham games but only slightly. The world is the largest it’s ever been,yet it feels barren and lifeless. The city is covered in brown’s and grey’s covered in a snowy finish. The city very quickly begins to blend together and nothing stands out. Gotham is also empty with the exception of enemies, it is explained why this is but it still makes the world feel lifeless. Character models have gotten a significant update this time around. The lip synching however is completely off and really takes you out of the experience. The animations are once again extremely well done, helping to sell every punch and kick. Overall the graphics are very good, yet the lifeless world and bland world design really hurt the experience.
Audio- Audio wise Origins is nothing special. Roger Craig Smith does his best as the younger Batman, although he does tend to over do it in certain scenes. Troy Baker on the other absolutely knocks it out of the park as the new Joker. Baker is able to convey the sense that this Joker is the younger version of Mark Hamill’s Joker. The various other voice actors do their jobs well enough but none of them are anything special. Overall the audio in Origins is good but nothing really stands out, with the exception of the two leads.
Negatives- Origins suffers from the same thing that all series tend to suffer from after three games, that sense of similarity and not adding anything new. Fatigue sets in pretty fast in Origins, this isn’t helped by the fact that with the exception of the story Origins isn’t all that interesting. The Gameplay begins to feel boring after you’ve fought just a couple of groups of enemies. The game doesn’t do a good job at keeping the player engaged in it’s world. The horrible lip synching and the less than smooth combat do not help any.
Verdict- Batman Arkham Origin’s attempt at telling the story of a young and naive Batman is well worth experiencing, but it fails in several key areas. The game fails to add anything new to the series. Feelings of fatigue and sameness set in very early on. Origins tries it’s best to deliver a truly compelling origin story but it fails under the weight of it’s own ambition.