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 Win95/98
Descent 3
 Review
 Our Score 90%
 Your Score 75%
Review
In the veritable ocean of first person shooter games, Interplay's Descent series has always been unique. Descent's secret? Instead of assigning us the role of a typical, heavily-armed foot-soldier, the designers came upon the original idea of putting the player at the helm of a highly maneuverable (and heavily-armed) space ship. This has allowed Descent players the ability to fly anywhere in the environment they choose to. With one catch: Up until now Descent has been a "strictly indoors" phenomenon.

The first two Descent games were nerve-wracking, gut-churning, vertigo-inducing amusement rides that shot players through the most elaborate three-dimensional mazes ever conceived. Because of the ship's mobility, it was part of the job to fly upside down and sideways through twisting, spiraling exhaust shoots and offworld air ducts. The object of the first two games was to rid each alien environment of the robotic menace that infected it, and then to depart said environment before it became a molten ball of hell. In the first two Descents, just as your ship would finally reach that elusive "exit" portal, the game would cut away to a rendered animation showing your precious flyer barely escaping the fiery death it left behind. And then on to the next tunnel.

Eager to break with tradition, the boys and girls at Outrage have created a new Descent that allows its players the chance to stay in the cockpit as they burst from an underground catacomb and out into the open air. (To a point- like Rogue Squadron, Descent 3 has an altitude ceiling). Now you're not just taking on killer infected robot scum inside of confusing and confined passageways. Say the word and you're hovering overtop of devastated research facilities or ancient alien ruins. Just because you're out in the open skies, doesn't mean you can relax on the trigger, however. Your enemies can hide in tiny spaces and come out of nowhere for vicious sneak attacks. And, of course, because there are now huge areas in Descent 3 to fly over, players can expect encounters with huge boss creatures that are incredibly tough to take down.

Although the gameplay for the third Descent game could hardly be called brand new, the shooter does sport all of the latest state-of-the-art visual and audio technologies. These technologies come at a cost, however. You have to have a well-equipped computer if you want to enjoy this game properly. If your CPU is up to snuff and if you've got adequate 3-D acceleration, look for impeccable texture and lighting details, area-specific fogging and brilliant reflections. The rapid fire action of Descent 3 is complimented by a moody, pulse pounding score and a host of cinema-worthy sound effects, all presented in glorious Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

AIR BAGS COME STANDARD

To play Descent 3 properly, players have to throw all of their gravity-anchored preconceptions about first person shooters out of the airlock. You can't just enter a room in Decent 3 (or any Descent game for that matter) and expect to find the entranceway to the next room conveniently located directly across from you. When entering an indoor area, players must learn to rotate in all directions, searching for connector corridors or secret rooms. This invariably leads to lots of bumping and bashing as pilots get accustomed to squeezing through small spaces and moving in uncomfortably close to jagged rocky surfaces. Making all of this even more complicated is the fact that your craft is getting constantly pummeled by pissed off, metallic attackers.

Thankfully, the makers of Descent 3 have equipped your ship with some extremely effective deterrents. Nothing says hello to an "Old Scratch" robot like a couple hundred rounds from your Vauss Cannon. Interested in taking down a lumbering, deadly oaf, known as "Humunculus?" Well, this may be the perfect time to try out the party-pooping Impact Mortar. In all, there are twenty primary and secondary weapons to acquire in Descent 3. This is in addition to the bevy of power-ups and countermeasures that you'll find floating in the game's expansive arenas.

The enemy robot creatures themselves are loaded with character. They are far more intelligent adversaries than ever before. I enjoyed getting into long range duck and cover fire-fights with the "Stinger" 'bots. Keep your eyes peeled for aggressive droids that love to pound you into the scenery or lurker 'bots that will sneak up on you with razor sharp, ship-shredding claws.

A large part of the initial success of Descent was its easy entry Internet gameplay. While still relatively easy to jump online and play (I had a few hiccups on my ADSL connection), the multiplayer modes of Descent 3 raise the bar considerably. Not content with simple deathmatching anymore, Descent 3 offers up a variety of kill-or-be-killed scenarios, plus an obligatory capture the flag game. Additionally, Descent 3 also comes with a multiplayer sports-like contest called Monster Ball and a team-play strategy game called Entropy! Above and beyond the call of duty, I'd say.

In the end, Descent 3 is more of the same "get me outta this 'bot-infested labyrinth" madness that made the first two games so deservedly popular. But thanks to the latest tech, the 'bot-infested labyrinths of Descent 3 are more nightmarish and addictive than ever before. Don't even bother trying to resist it.

BACK TO THE REVIEW SUMMARY

  Reviewer:
 
Victor Lucas
Click to View
 Game Developer
  Outrage Entertainment
 Publisher
  Interplay
 Key Genre Words
  Shooter
  Flight
  Action
  Review Date - 1999-07-12


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