The Thrall bursts through the smoky poison of the dying Wizard and leaps through the air towards me, my Autorifle is empty and my health is low. A quick melee attack throws the now disintegrating Thrall into the air and buys me enough time to reload my weapon before the next attack but the respite is not fated to last long as an enemy Knight fires its heavy cannon at my vestige of refuge. Bungie have always excelled at the balls to the wall, desperate gun battles that push players to the extreme limit of their skill and their new RPG FPS Destiny is no exception.

Destiny is one of a new kind of shooter, an always online cooperative/competitive First Person Shooter with Role Playing elements thrown into the mix. While there was an incredible level of hype following the games announcement and subsequent Alpha and Beta tests the game itself is hard to define. My first problem with Destiny is the fact that it has to be played online, there is no offline function and while you have the choice to play through the roughly 10-12 hour campaign solo you need to connect to the Destiny servers to even get into the game. There have been numerous games that have had this same set up over the past couple of years but now that is has branched out into a AAA First Person Shooter it means that eventually, even if it is years down the line, that these servers will be turned off and no one will be able to play the game. As a gamer that concept infuriates and disgusts me. I can still pull out an old NES, Sega Mega drive (Genesis) or PlayStation and play games that are over 20 years old but the fashion of “always online” titles is troubling and means that the game I have just forked out £50 for has an expiration date.

The gameplay within Destiny is brilliantly solid, the levelling up mechanics work well and are set at an excellent pace giving players the opportunity to get to grips with their new found abilities and stopped me from feeling overloaded with information. The abilities that unlock can be tailored to your individual playing style which makes your initial class choice less imperative than you may have thought. There are three classes to choose from, The Titan is your standard tank like player able to absorb a huge amount of damage and dish out just as much, the Hunter who is more of a skirmisher and the Warlock (my personal favourite) is a great mix between the two. Each class can be upgraded and equipped to either deal damage or buff your fireteams abilities. Combat is gratifying but can lack the more visceral impact from other shooters, there’s a wide array of enemies to fight, many of the different types of enemies fall into similar class roles throughout the different races but there is enough diversity to keep things interesting. There are guns a-plenty although sadly there are only four primary, three secondary and two heavy weapon types, while they do differ in damage, magazine size and various other aspects like reload speed, stability and so on but ultimately that’s it. There are elemental effects that some weapons have however it doesn’t make as much of a difference as I would have hoped for.

The campaign can be played solo or with up to two other players in your fireteam. The missions themselves can be played on a normal difficulty or it can be ramped up to a hard difficulty for better rewards, although the missions themselves can be too short and can be completed in around 10-15 minutes in some cases. The storyline has several holes and things are poorly explained throughout but that aside, I did find myself growing to really like Peter Dinklage’s performance as your helpful AI: Ghost. The story climaxes in a rather underwhelming battle and all of a sudden the story is over. It seems to me like Destiny has been made more as a precursor for subsequent titles than a game in its own right. It’s sad because while Bungie aren’t the best crafters of a story they have a history of making solid tales that really evoke concern and interest in the characters. Sadly this was another disappointing facet of Destiny.

Outside of the story missions you can freely explore Earth’s Old Russia, the Moon, Venus and Mars in “patrols”, there are various short missions that are available in these patrols although sadly they get very repetitive very quickly and I found that ultimately they simply didn’t add any longevity to the game. There is also a couple of cut scenes in “The Reef” and I have a suspicion that we will get either DLC to fill out this area of the solar system or that previously intended missions were pulled as it is the only area I could travel to and not actually play any missions. Where Destiny starts to live up to the hype is during the Strike missions. These are very difficult special missions that are available and add the fantastic desperate battles I started this review off with. A fire team is essential for these and while they can be completed with two people (as I know through a harrowing and heroic Moon strike) they have been designed to be played with a compliment of three people. Bungie have also alluded to “Raids” that will supposedly ramp the difficulty of a Strike up to eleven and will require six players to team up without the use of matchmaking, however at the time of writing no Raids are available.

Destiny supports incredible visuals and while they are reminiscent of the Halo franchise they aren’t too similar as to be accused of being the same. Visually the best world is Earth, it has stunning skyboxes, amazing particle effects and a real sense of history. Again Destiny starts off strong but drops the ball as soon as I reached Venus I felt completely underwhelmed, the obvious time, effort and passion that went into the world of Old Russia and even the Moon (both available in the beta) was obvious in the meticulously crafted environments  but both Venus and Mars felt entirely called in. This leads me to suspect that Bungie have rushed Destiny out the door and it probably should have suffered a delay to keep up the excellent quality that is evident in the most flaunted levels of the game.

While playing online I had a slight issue with the sound cutting out and I had to restart my Xbox to get it back, while this was annoying it wasn’t a game breaker however one of my fireteam had frequent disconnections which ruined more than one game we were playing. It is still early days for Destiny so these problems may be fixed in subsequent patches but it is still irksome to have such basic gameplay issues at launch.

Another big complaint is that outside of the fighting and mission gameplay, in the safe zone known as “The Tower”, the economy of Destiny is never really explained. There‘s a wide range of aspects that are needed to buy certain gear and weapons that I found I was bewildered to the point of ignorance. With that said I happily completed the main story and Strike missions by only using loot drops so I suppose the economy isn’t the be all and end all.

For those players that are more interested in competitive multiplayer we have the Crucible. The Crucible is the area where you can test your metal against other Guardians in a handful of game modes. There is Control – a domination/Team Deathmatch hybrid, Rumble – free for all, Clash – god old fashioned 6v6 Team Deathmatch and Skirmish – a small 3v3 Team Deathmatch. The PVP is scaled in such a way that a low level noob shouldn’t be overpowered by a high level veteran however there are some major balance issues that I encountered in my play through. One of the more prevalent of these issues was simultaneous killing. I lost count on the amount of times I shot and killed an enemy player at the same time she shot and killed me. It’s frustrating and I don’t fully understand how it can happen on such a regular basis. I’m sure that with a few balance patches that these can be ironed out however at the moment the entire PVP feature is somewhat of a jumbled, buggy mess.

All and all Destiny is a good game to play but it is not without its faults. I don’t think this is the start of a new generation of games and I certainly don’t think it will be the blueprint or master model for games to come. It is fun when playing with friends and when it is called for Bungie really do an excellent job and keeping the player under pressure to ramp up the adrenaline however with a short and incomplete story, buggy competitive multiplayer and, in my opinion, rushed environments in the later stages of the game I feel that Bungie may have been hoisted by their own petard.