Monday 23 April 2018

Fulfilling Destiny at second chance

Destiny 2 (PS4/XO) ★★★★★ Age: 16+

Destiny 2
Destiny 2
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Divisive doesn't come close to capturing Destiny. It earned millions of fans on release in 2014 for its unbelievably fun shooting gallery. But Bungie's bestseller almost immediately lost at least half its audience when players quickly hit the level cap and the endgame degenerated into a mindless, repetitive slog.

Obviously, Destiny 2 aims to right those wrongs and win back the many (myself included) who couldn't stomach the hundreds of hours of recycled missions and obsession with inching your stats ever upward. Yet it's clear you could still hate the sequel if you don't understand Destiny's raison d'être - it's a game you play as much for the social interaction as for shooting aliens in the face with hilariously overpowered weapons.

Bungie insiders compare it to golf - requiring tactics around the "tools" (read: guns) in your bag - and emphasise the cooperative strategising that is mandatory at higher levels of the endgame.

So, yes, it now sports a relatively meaningful storyline with a proper villain. Yes, the artistry of the visuals makes it one of the most beautiful games you'll ever clap eyes on. And, yes, a host of tweaks affect the loot drops and levelling-up process that will have unforeseen consequences in competitive multiplayer.

But essentially this is Destiny as it should have been first time around - a glorious, rich shooter that, like a fine wine, makes most sense when enjoyed in good company.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Episode 1)

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★ Age: 18+

This prequel, the first episode of three, revisits the angsty teens of the well-received original. But your appetite for its brand of Riverdale/13 Reasons Why emo drama also depends on your tolerance for bad punk and achingly sarcastic dialogue.

Look past that, though, and you'll see Before the Storm is gamely exploring difficult themes with no little skill. Guilt, anger, grief and jealousy all make an appearance. But while the script can veer between clunky and sympathetic, the bigger problem is the absence of the original's intriguing time-rewind power.

Nidhogg 2

(PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 12+

Welcome to the theatre of the absurd, where two opponents compete in lightning-quick fencing duels in bizarre, baroque locations and the winner is rewarded with consumption by a giant worm.

Nidhogg 2 embellishes the original's minimalist concept - slash, slide, parry and stab your way from left to right while an opponent attempts the same in the opposite direction. Now the weapons can vary (short, long, or even a bow) and the fantastical levels almost prove a distraction in all their entrail-strewn glory.

But the overriding theme remains laughter - the farcical, accidental deaths, the gruesome animations - as you skewer each other for fun.

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