Your hovering ghost companion, a robot voiced by Peter Dinklage, will give you a general synopsis of what's involved at the start of each objective. The Dinklebot is just strange. He sounds like that sad robot from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." At times I can't tell if they directed him to purposefully sound like a depressed robot, or if they just got a robot to sound like Peter Dinklage. When you hear it you'll know what I mean.
Anyway, in the end you're just going to follow an arrow on your map until you reach the final stretch of the quest, which is marked by a "no respawn" notification. Here's when you know you've entered the mission's final act, so you'd better not die or you'll respawn back at the entry gate. Contradictorily enough though, on a number of occasions I was able to continue from a checkpoint after passing through the "no respawn" gate. I guess it just means you can't respawn at the actual point you die like you can during the first part of a mission. All told, Destiny is more forgiving than you might think.
But where respawning might seem generous, there's a satisfying gradual pace of difficulty that escalates over time. It'll make you think twice about starting a level 11 story if you're still a level 10 Guardian. You can get away with that kind of carelessness earlier in the game, but once your character hits double digits, things get real.
I touched on the multiplayer aspects of Destiny earlier, but I didn't talk about the Crucible mode, the game's strictly multiplayer destination. A few hours in, the game guides you to an online match, but that first impression might scar some players. I was placed in a match with a handful of level 20-pluses, while I was a measly level 5. Suffice it to say, it wasn't pretty. It was a while before I tried a Crucible match again. If you do decide to brave Crucible mode after your first shellacking, there are a solid number of modes and maps to play in. But here's some free advice, don't head back until you're at least a level 10 -- and even then you'll likely take a beating.
If it weren't for the thrill of leveling up, I probably would not have sunken the more than 20 hours I have into the game. There's no real sense of exploration, and as gorgeously realized as they might be, the environments don't have much of a personality. They act as set dressing for what's really, at its core, a lot of fluff padding a great shooter.
Many elements feel as if they're just there for show. The game's currency is mostly useless and much of your time in the Tower is spent running back and forth between receiving messages and collecting bounties. In some ways, Destiny feels dated. There's almost no way to avoid that feeling of repetition.
Destiny represents the perfect example of insurmountable hype and a sobering reality check. A lot of this business is buildup -- whether it be at E3, in behind-closed-doors announcements, or what have you. All it shows us is that it's way easier to sell the dream than to make all of the complex pieces of an interactive experience come together.
Destiny is great for co-op with friends and its shooter fundamentals are top-notch. Its ambitious MMO aspirations are noble, but perhaps if it hadn't strayed away from the Halo formula there wouldn't be this overwhelming sense of inadequacy.
CNET verdict: Polished, but lacks in substance
Destiny is a victim of the hype machine created around it. It's a refined console shooter that feels great during the action, but goes stale during just about every other component of the game.
Check out GameSpot's coverage of Destiny