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Gaming Expert: Destiny Is Good, But 'There's Not Much There'

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Imagine a world 700 years into the future. Aliens are taking over the galaxy. You are on a mission to save the last city on earth. But...

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEOGAME, "DESTINY")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: If you fail, everything you know, everything humans have ever known, will be gone forever.

NEARY: That's a clip from "Destiny," one of the most hyped video games of the year - some say of the decade. It sold more than $500 million worth of copies on the first day of release. Joining us now from KQED in San Francisco is Adam Sessler. He's a gaming expert and president of Theory-Head Inc., a media and entertainment consulting company. Welcome to the program.

ADAM SESSLER: Oh, it's my pleasure.

NEARY: So first of all, describe this game for us.

SESSLER: That should be an easy thing to do, but what they've attempted with "Destiny" is to kind of take different types of genres - the shooter genre that probably people are very familiar with from the science-fiction game "Halo" and from the "Call Of Duty" franchise. And another type of game is called an MMO - that means a massively multiplayer online game. And that's when thousands of people are playing on a server in real-time with one another. They brought the two together as a hybrid. So it's a shooter that you're playing with many people at the same time.

NEARY: So is this something completely new?

SESSLER: I wouldn't say it's completely new. Most people who are playing the game are already recognizing elements from other games. It's kind of the awkward hybridization that is trying to make it sort of fresh and innovative.

NEARY: I know you've been playing the game for a few days now. Has it lived up to your expectations?

SESSLER: To be honest, I would have to say it doesn't. And at the same time, those expectations - not just for myself, but I think for many people that follow the videogame industry - were very, very high. It's quite entertaining. It's very fun to shoot aliens. But at the same time, there's not much there. You see all these elements, but it doesn't have much of a story.

The inclusion of Peter Dinklage, that I think most people know from "Game Of Thrones" - he's kind of your guide through the game. And he seems about as baffled by the dialogue he's reading as most people are when they're playing it.

NEARY: Well, we have a clip from the game that includes Peter Dinklage's voice. Let's hear some of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEOGAME, "DESTINY")

PETER DINKLAGE: Congratulations. Humans haven't been on the moon in hundreds of years.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here.

DINKLAGE: Dying here is much more likely.

NEARY: So he's only one of some very high profile people who were involved with this game. Paul McCartney helped with the score. Are big-name celebrities like that becoming increasingly involved in the creation of these games?

SESSLER: You are seeing sort of more celebrities move into video games. In fact later this year, the new "Call Of Duty" game features Kevin Spacey. And in this case, the character really looks like Kevin Spacey.

The inclusion of Paul McCartney is a curious one. He helped out with the music which is actually quite exceptional throughout the game. And he has a song that runs over the final credits which really explicates this kind of strange unease the game seems to have with itself.

I love Paul McCartney's music, but in this kind of machismo and science-fiction universe, the song that plays at the end seems more appropriate for something that has a dramatic flourish where maybe the two lovers find themselves, you know, and they go on for a happy existence, not in this world that's quite dire with the end of humanity at stake.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOPE FOR THE FUTURE")

PAUL MCCARTNEY: (Singing) And we will build bridges up to the sky.

NEARY: Adam Sessler is a gamer and president of Theory-Head Inc., a media and entertainment company. Thanks so much.

SESSLER: My pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOPE FOR THE FUTURE")

MCCARTNEY: (Singing) What shines brightest in the dark where nothing's ever seen? Lighting up discovery... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.