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Destiny Review: A Little Help From My Friends

By: Douglas Nash 

Twitter: @Name_taker



     Destiny is hard game to classify. The game isnt Halo just in a different universe, nor is it just Borderlands with prettier visuals. Destiny is in fact a whole bunch of different types of game mechanics thrown together that when combined, create a unique feeling game that doesnt always work. But when it does, it manages to make you forget all about its terrible story, poor loot system, and monotonous levelling mechanics. 

     Its best to get this out of the way at the start. Destinys story is terrible; not because its poorly written (well theres that too) but because its barely there. During the games 12 hour story campaign, there are a total of five cutscenes that run maybe five minutes each. The amount of story delivered in this game is so minimal I have yet to find a single person who even knowns what happened in it. 

      The game even teases the player with promises to delver to some kind of story only to snatch it away one second latter. At one point in the game, one of its many nameless and soulless characters says I dont even have time to explain why I dont have time to explain. For a game that is meant to launch a ten year franchise for Bungie, developers of Destiny, and the critically lauded Halo series, this lack of a basic story or even named characters is baffling. 



       To be fair, the game does make an attempt to explain its universe to the player with Grimoirecards, which function as the games codex. Though there are two massive problems with the cards that cripple the feature and make it borderline pointless. The most glaring of which is that you can only read the cards on Bungieswebsite, or the Destiny mobile app. Making the simple act of trying to learn about Destinys universe something players have to go out of their way to do. I don’t to stop the game to learn why a wizard came from the moon. The second problem is that a neat universe is not a substitute for an engaging story. The combination of poor story telling and world building results in a world that feels soulless and sterile. I dont care about the world or story of Destiny, and I dont feel like it cares about me. 

     Thankfully where Destinys story utterly fails, its gameplay more then makes up for its short comings, provided youre playing with friends. If you dont plan to play Destiny with friends, dont buy this game. While Bungiehas said that you can play this game solo and have a good time, it is by far the least enjoyable way to play Destiny and while you might have fun at first, Destinys limited offering of repetitive single player options will cause you to burn out quickly. 

     Thats not to say that Destiny isnt any less repetitive when you play with friends. Its probably one of the most repetitive shooters Ive ever played. Though its repetitive in the same way games like Diablo, Borderlands, World of War Craft, etc are repetitive. Albeit with better encounter design then any of those games which does help to mix up the repetition. The fun of Destiny comes from playing the same levels over and over again with your friends on harder difficulties, in the pursuit of better loot to strengthen your character. The fun, like in many games of this style, comes solely from the combination of hanging out with your friends while also building up your Guardian.

     Loot and character progression is Destinys only draw to keep players coming back. And to Destinys credit, it is really fun upgrade and outfit your character with better gear. When players boot up Destiny for the first time they will be given a a choice of three different classes to choose from: the Warlock, the Hunter, or the Titian. Each class plays more or less the same except with slightly different skills that give each class slightly different passive or active abilities. Each class also has a special, super ability that allow each class to devastate the battlefield in different ways, such as the Hunters one shot revolver or the Titans massive ground pound. Each class also has a subclass that players unlock at level 15 that can drastically alter their play even further. Though its not until the late game where each class starts to feel unique and different, aside from their different supers. Until then it feels like theyre just different space marines with varying senses of fashion. 




    Late game is both where Destiny is at its most monotonous and its progression least fulfilling. Up until the end game, progress is a steady upward progression where you slowly replace your older gear with newer, better gear of increasing rarity. When you hit the soft level cap of 20, Destiny throws in a curve ball. To increase your level over 20 you have to equip armour that has a new Lightstat attached to it. The only gear in Destiny that has Light attached to it is rare gear, legendary gear, or exotic gear. Getting said gear brings the sense of progression to a halt, and it is here that Destiny devolves into a slow slog.

     The reason for this is because in an attempt to make your gear matter more, the loot drops are few and far between. To the games credit, it does make my ever growing arsenal of death machines feel far more meaningful then it would in other loot driven games. Though, there is nothing more frustrating then running a Strike (Destinys three person co-op mandatory missions) for what feels like the millionth time only to get uncommon gloves. 

      To be fair, Destiny does offer a second route to get legendary gear through the games faction system. Players can grind out Vanguard marks earned through the games single player and co-op content. Alternatively, dudes that really want to shoot stuff can grind out Crucible marks through the games competitive multiplayer, aptly called The Crucible. They can then use these currencies at the requisite faction after they have amassed enough reputation with that faction to buy stuff from them. 

       Though once a player has finally gotten that Legendary or Exotic item theyve been dying to get their hands on, it is on the begging of the post game climb. This is because in Destiny each individual item be that, a weapon or piece of body armour also has its own progression tree. Just like all of Destinys othercool ideas it tries to implement. It winds up making progression feel like a chore. So what conceivably came about as an idea to make players more attached to their gear, becomes a grind fest as players are forced to go back to lower level zones to farm endlessly for upgrade materials. 

      Destiny is best enjoyed as something you don’t actively pay attention to. So get your podcasts ready if you don’t want to feel like you aren’t actually accomplishing anything in the game.

      Destinys actual end game content such as its weekly challenges, which are just strikes reworked with different difficulty modifiers, or Destinys raid known as The Vault of Glass are a total blast with friends. I have to stress with friends because there is no matchmaking for these activities and they are so challenging that if you to do it with random players you wouldnt get very far. 

     Though unlike other missions that are super stingy with Legendary or Exotic gear, these missions will throw these items at you non-stop. This refreshes the aspect of item discovery from the start of the game. Having said that, once you get one of those ultra powerful items you still have to back into the world to farm materials to upgrade it.

      Destinys competitive multiplayer also bears a quick mention. You unlock it the second one of your characters reaches level 5 and it certainly becomes far more interesting in the end game. Destinys multilayer plays like a mix of both Halo and Call of Duty with the focus on precision of a Halo game and the speed and weapon and skill progression of Call of Duty

     When players enter The Crucible, they are equipped with all of their weapons, skills, and armour. Players can also gain experience and gear through competitive multiplayer which means that fighting other players never feels like youre wasting your time. 



      In an attempt to make multiplayer more fair every combatant, regardless of actual level and effectiveness of their equipment, fights on the same level. So regardless of how much defence your armour se can boast or how damaging your gun can be, it doesn’t matter in The Crucible. Everyone is the same.

     The Crucible wont light the world on fire and it probably wont overtake Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Halo itself. But it is fun in its own right and Ive lost hours using my new weapons on countless other players.

In conclusion 

      Destiny is a a deeply flawed game that puts far too much emphases on grinding as a primary mechanic, but if youre looking for a fun game to play with friends youd be hard pressed to find a better option. 

5/10


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Bronson Review: There is No Escape

By: Max Elliot  

Twitter: @MaxxElliott



     “Charles Bronson is Britains most famous prisoner. He has spent 34 years in jail, 30 of them in solitary confinement. He has not yet been granted a release date.This is the closing text from Nicolas Winding Refns 2008 film Bronson, which is a biopic about the titular character. Charles Bronson, as a character is about as brash and bold as somebody can get. The 92 minute film portrays the series of events in Bronson with the typical directorial panache that Refn would go on to later use in 2012s phenomenal Drive. Because of the stellar directing, exquisite acting from Tom Hardy as Bronson, as well as the soundtrack, Bronson is a film that pushes the boundary of not only who can be a protagonist, but also to what lengths can an audience be pushed to be made uncomfortable.

     Tom Hardy shines in this role, portraying the nihilistic, brutish, and troublesome Bronson. Whenever he is on screen, which is most every scene, viewers should expect to be on edge as they witness the peaks and valleys of his performance. Hardy is constantly screaming his head off in an effort to achieve fame for himself. Instead of being traditional, and becoming a singer or an actor (which Hardy ironically says hes no good at) Bronson decides to become the best hell raiser he can be. “I saw prison as a hotel”, he says early in the film. fit for someone of my royal standing. Charles Bronson eschews what society sees as normalcy and chooses to just get into trouble, knocking out whoever is in his way. And boy does he excel at that. His transgressions exponentially accelerate. From what starts as getting into various brawls with random people and law enforcement declines (or ascends from Bronsons point of view) to attempted murder and hostage taking. What this does to the audience is make them really uncomfortable and question whether or not they are witnessing cinematic art, or is this simply Tom Hardy pushing the envelope of what can be seen as acceptable on film?

     I personally thinks that this is art, albeit very uncomfortable, but ultimately rewarding. In an era of people wanting to become famous by having a sex tape, or being on a reality show, its nice to see an R rated nightmarish version of where that quest for fame can lead.

     The term nightmare is not used lightly here. On top of the uneasy performance from Hardy, Refns choices as a director really have the ability to make the audience squirm. Refn, along with director of photography Larry Smith restrict the image in such a magnificent way as to never lets us forget that this movie takes place primarily in a series of prisons. The shot composition puts us right in the cell with Bronson, there is nary a wide shot to be seen. Most everything is in close up and holds for upwards of 50 seconds. Even though Bronson is a paltry hour and a half, it feels a lot longer because of these 50 second (and sometimes even longer) shots. Some of these shots too, involve Tom Hardy breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the audience, seeing as how this is his story that he is telling us, this seems appropriate, but nonetheless very creepy.

     I mentioned the peaks and valleys of Hardys performance earlier. One second he could be carrying on in conversation with someone, the next minute he could be punching that mans face in. Bronson is a schizophrenic character who is either up or down. There is no in between. Building on to this two faced approach to the character, the soundtrack lends a more than significant hand. Ranging from beautiful classical operatic movements that contrast somehow wondrously with the scenes of wanton violence, to very kinetic Euro synth infused dance beats that stay with you long after credits. The soundtrack really helps this movie read almost like a modern day version of A Clockwork Orange. Anytime a movie is compared to Kubrick, thats got to be a mark in its favor, right?

     On the surface, Bronson could be wrapped up as a bombastic tale that effuses creeds like violence for violences sake. I think its something more. While it is very bluntly provocative, I think it shows us the same things we usually see in movies: a protagonist with a very clear cut goal. Charles Bronson wanted to be famous, and he achieved that. Audiences may grimace at some of the ways he went about achieving that fame, but it was still fame at the end of the day. Who are we to judge him? 

9/10


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Bronson Review: There is No Escape

By: Max Elliot  

Twitter: @MaxxElliott



     “Charles Bronson is Britains most famous prisoner. He has spent 34 years in jail, 30 of them in solitary confinement. He has not yet been granted a release date.This is the closing text from Nicolas Winding Refns 2008 film Bronson, which is a biopic about the titular character. Charles Bronson, as a character is about as brash and bold as somebody can get. The 92 minute film portrays the series of events in Bronson with the typical directorial panache that Refn would go on to later use in 2012s phenomenal Drive. Because of the stellar directing, exquisite acting from Tom Hardy as Bronson, as well as the soundtrack, Bronson is a film that pushes the boundary of not only who can be a protagonist, but also to what lengths can an audience be pushed to be made uncomfortable.

     Tom Hardy shines in this role, portraying the nihilistic, brutish, and troublesome Bronson. Whenever he is on screen, which is most every scene, viewers should expect to be on edge as they witness the peaks and valleys of his performance. Hardy is constantly screaming his head off in an effort to achieve fame for himself. Instead of being traditional, and becoming a singer or an actor (which Hardy ironically says hes no good at) Bronson decides to become the best hell raiser he can be. “I saw prison as a hotel”, he says early in the film. fit for someone of my royal standing. Charles Bronson eschews what society sees as normalcy and chooses to just get into trouble, knocking out whoever is in his way. And boy does he excel at that. His transgressions exponentially accelerate. From what starts as getting into various brawls with random people and law enforcement declines (or ascends from Bronsons point of view) to attempted murder and hostage taking. What this does to the audience is make them really uncomfortable and question whether or not they are witnessing cinematic art, or is this simply Tom Hardy pushing the envelope of what can be seen as acceptable on film?

     I personally thinks that this is art, albeit very uncomfortable, but ultimately rewarding. In an era of people wanting to become famous by having a sex tape, or being on a reality show, its nice to see an R rated nightmarish version of where that quest for fame can lead.

     The term nightmare is not used lightly here. On top of the uneasy performance from Hardy, Refns choices as a director really have the ability to make the audience squirm. Refn, along with director of photography Larry Smith restrict the image in such a magnificent way as to never lets us forget that this movie takes place primarily in a series of prisons. The shot composition puts us right in the cell with Bronson, there is nary a wide shot to be seen. Most everything is in close up and holds for upwards of 50 seconds. Even though Bronson is a paltry hour and a half, it feels a lot longer because of these 50 second (and sometimes even longer) shots. Some of these shots too, involve Tom Hardy breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the audience, seeing as how this is his story that he is telling us, this seems appropriate, but nonetheless very creepy.

     I mentioned the peaks and valleys of Hardys performance earlier. One second he could be carrying on in conversation with someone, the next minute he could be punching that mans face in. Bronson is a schizophrenic character who is either up or down. There is no in between. Building on to this two faced approach to the character, the soundtrack lends a more than significant hand. Ranging from beautiful classical operatic movements that contrast somehow wondrously with the scenes of wanton violence, to very kinetic Euro synth infused dance beats that stay with you long after credits. The soundtrack really helps this movie read almost like a modern day version of A Clockwork Orange. Anytime a movie is compared to Kubrick, thats got to be a mark in its favor, right?

     On the surface, Bronson could be wrapped up as a bombastic tale that effuses creeds like violence for violences sake. I think its something more. While it is very bluntly provocative, I think it shows us the same things we usually see in movies: a protagonist with a very clear cut goal. Charles Bronson wanted to be famous, and he achieved that. Audiences may grimace at some of the ways he went about achieving that fame, but it was still fame at the end of the day. Who are we to judge him? 

9/10


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Checkpoint Reached #42

This week on Checkpoint Reached, the crew talks at lengths about the Metro Redux collection, their favourite games of last generation, and a few more; followed by a intense debate about whether or not shooters are all the same. Then in the second segment the Checkpoint Crew talk’s about what upcoming games their most excited about. 

Music in order of Appearance

Smugglers — Gustavo Santolalla 

Riptide —  Vance Joy

King and Lionheart — Of Monsters and Men 

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Hey guys just drop already

By: Douglas Nash                                                                                                                               Twitter: @Name_Taker 

 

     A scandal has erupted around Zoe Quinn, the creator of the indie darling Depression Quest. Around the time of it’s release, it was was lauded by critics as a interesting think piece about depression and provided a great way to empathize with those who do suffer. The current scandal involving Zoe however has nearly nothing to do with her talent for making games, or her initial breakout hit. Instead it involves rather nasty accusations by her ex-boyfriend on an angry blog post.

     A few days ago, before the writing of this article, Zoe’s ex-boyfriend posted a roughly 5000-word blog post on his Wordpress account railing against Zoe, his now ex-girlfriend. In this post, he made several accusations against Zoe including the standard bitter break up stuff as well as accusations of cheating. The scandal isn’t the fact that Zoe maybe cheated on her boyfriend, its that some of the people she’s allegedly slept with are people in the gaming industry. Apparently, they are also people who have helped her out in the past, namely Nathan Grayson, a high profile reporter who has previously written for Rock Paper Shotgun and now writes for Kotaku.

     It didn’t take long until this whole bitter rant from an angry ex erupted into a massive internet assault against Zoe. This isn’t the first time Zoe has been the target of such harassment; a similar thing happened earlier this year when Zoe tried to publish Depression Quest. She was targeted for no particular reason by the usual assortment of professional internet trolls. Therefore when accusations like this surface, there is no shortage of people willing to come out of the wood work and start their campaign anew. However, this time they have the advantage of hiding their troll like behaviour under the guise of exposing corruption in the gaming industry. 

     The problem about this whole supposed “scandal” is that all it takes is one simple google search and one minute of critical thinking to come to the same conclusion. Even if what Zoe’s ex-boyfriend says is true; which as a quick aside, if you ever want accurate personal information about someone, your first source shouldn’t be their ex. Though let’s assume Zoe’s ex isn’t lying, a quick google search will show that Nathan’s coverage of Depression Quest comes down to a single cursory reference in one article about something different. In fact, most of the google results are pages of people harassing both Nathan and Zoe over twitter, with the odd article coming either Zoe or Nathan’s defence. 

     In turn, this results in a classic sex scandal where people looking for a reason to bring someone they don’t like down and use their private indiscretions as a means to ruin their public image. So all that’s left is the accusation stating that maybe she cheated on her ex and you know what? I really don’t care either way and neither should random idiots online when it comes to other people’s personal lives. Also, if there ever was someone who deserved to be cheated on, it would be someone who would go out of their way to write a 5000 word blog about how bitter and angry they are about their breakup. 

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Checkpoint Reached #41

This week on the show The checkpoint crew talk at length about the Last of Us Remastered, Rouge Legacy, old school arcades, Persona 4, and many more. In the second segment the Checkpoint Crew talk at length about the strengths and weaknesses of the Persona series.  

Music in order of appearance

Top yourself — Jack White

Various Persona 4 golden songs

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Checkpoint Reached #40

This week on the podcast the Checkpoint Crew talk about a ton of different games including but not limited to X-Com Enemy Within, Mortal Kombat, Guilt Gear, Japanese MMOs, and a plethora of Vita games. Then in the second segment the Checkpoint Crew talks at length about their impressions of the Destiny Beta and what they hope the full holds when it’s finally released in september.

Music in Order of Appearance

Young Men Dead — The Black Angles

Brave New World — Marty O’Donnell

Turbulence —  Steve Aoki & Laidback Luke 

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Checkpoint Reached: The Return of Emperor Flavius

FLAV is back so we decided to record a short little podcast for you guys and it’s filled with WW1 and 2 talk, how dentistry school is the ultimate time management sim, Smite, Diablo 3, and bit more. Also you can send us your listen e-mails to letters@checkpointgames.ca and maybe we’ll read them on the podcast. 

Music in Order of Appearance:

Genesis — Justice

Three Women — Jack White 

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Checkpoint Reached #39

This week the Checkpoint Crew talk about a ton of games such as, Tower fall Ascension, Valiant Hearts, Dead Space 3, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Blaze Blue, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Bioshock and a few more. Then in the second segment the crew talks all about Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes spoilers. If you want you letter read on the show be sure to email us at letters@checkpointgames.ca 

Music in order of Appearance: 

Black Back Liquorice — Jack White

Metal Gear Saga — Harry Gregson Williams  

Here’s to you 

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Checkpoint Reached: Game of Thrones Special

On the Game of Thrones special, Doug and Carbine talk at length about season 4 of Game of Thrones. You can E-Mail us at letters@checkpointgames.ca with your comments, concerns, and confessions.

Music in Order of appearance

Main Title — Ramin Djawadi 

The Children — Ramin Djawadi 

The Rain’s of Castamere — Sigur Ros 

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