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Tom Standage

A Game, a Gadget and an App

Time to face your Destiny, then go around the world in 80 Days

Tom Standage | November/December 2014

A GAME Destiny

The most feverishly awaited game of the year has landed. Five years in the making, with a budget of $500m, “Destiny” is the first instalment of a new franchise from Bungie, creators of the “Halo” series of sci-fi shoot-’em-ups. It’s a wildly ambitious fusion of two genres: first-person shooters (like “Halo”) and massive multiplayer role-playing games (like “World of Warcraft”). Bungie calls “Destiny” a “shared-world shooter” as it blurs the distinction between the two: you meet other players as you explore its gorgeous sci-fi landscapes, and you can team up with them for some missions as you struggle to protect mankind from alien invaders. You can also upgrade your skills, weapons and armour, and go into multiplayer combat arenas. “Destiny” lacks the relentless narrative drive of “Halo”, because in a multiplayer game not everyone can be the saviour of mankind. But the hybrid format leaves plenty of room for innovation and expansion, as Bungie aims to deliver a game world that feels truly alive. Even if it doesn’t quite live up to the hype, it draws you in: “Halo” players will feel at home, but “Destiny” offers a deeper, darker, more complex universe to explore. 
Destiny for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4: around £40

A GADGET Spaced360 Portable Speaker 

Portable Bluetooth speakers are great when you want to eat outside and take your music with you. But crank up the volume and they can’t deliver the goods: you need a mains-powered speaker or audio dock for that. The Spaced360 squares this circle. It’s battery-powered, but can pump out music at hefty volumes for hours at a time, and is powerful enough to be the main sound system in your kitchen or living room. Its unusual shape sends sound in all directions, unlike its brick-like rivals. Audiophiles may be appalled at the signal processing this demands, but it sounds great. Colourful neoprene covers provide greater protection, and the nifty charging dock means it’s always ready to go walkabout.
Spaced360 around £250; spaced360.com

AN APP 80 Days

This retelling of Jules Verne’s classic tale is a cross between a “choose your own adventure” book and a 3D board game. As Passepartout, you must guide Phileas Fogg in his effort to circle the globe in 80 days. The story has been given a clever steampunk twist, with automaton armies on the march in Europe, and airships, mechanical birds and steam-powered submarines to carry you on your way. As you travel from city to city, managing your money, keeping an eye on the calendar and looking out for items that can be sold at a profit later, you’ll also see other players moving across the game’s 3D globe. The narrative and gameplay are brilliantly interwoven, and the result is such fun that when I failed on my first circumnavigation—it took 87 days—I immediately started again.
80 Days for iPhone and iPad: £2.99

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