Descent 3 is a white-knuckle adrenaline ride of
twisting tunnels, laser-turreted alien landscapes, and
eye-popping pyrotechnics. Firing off missiles and
blasting away with an assortment of cannons, you'll
have more fun blowing things up than a drunk in a
If you've ever played Descent or Descent II, you know
what to expect. For those of you just now deplaning
from Shangri-La, you fly a nimble fighter, managing
weapons, shields, and afterburner while navigating a
labyrinth of tunnels
and caves to take
out hordes of robotic
enemies. Your ship
is equipped with a
which can be
launched to help you
find the next
power-up, level exit
and so forth. Six degrees of movement means that
you can move forward, back, up, down, or at any
angle from any one of these main axes of movement.
Got your Dramamine? The faint of stomach need not
New to Descent 3 is the opportunity to take your craft
outdoors and shoot up various bunkers, gun turrets,
and defending fighter craft. Combat planet-side
changes the dynamics of the game. The omnipresent
sense of claustrophobia vanishes when you can spot
your enemies coming from miles away, and sideways
strafing to avoid incoming fire is a breeze.
Outrage has also given us 10 new weapons to play with. The microwave
cannon can take out the toughest foes with one or two bursts, and it shakes
the entire screen when you fire it. The napalm gun sprays a jet of flaming
plasma that will have onlookers oohing and
aahing at your 3D card's stunning flame and
smoke particle effects. At the same time,
multiple difficulty levels and the ability to
completely customize your controls ensure
the Descent novice will have no difficulty in
coming to grips with this game.
The 17 levels are inspired. Each is unique,
and varies greatly in look and layout.
Subway trains, acid lakes, giant stone
heads, and molten rivers of lava are featured
prominently. In addition, each contains one or more puzzles that must be
solved before the player can progress to the next. The puzzles are, for the
most part, logical: downloading data from terminals, collecting keys, tripping
switches, and so forth.
Enemy AI is varied and believable. Some bots dodge and return fire, some flee
when hit, and the Hulk-Will-Smash, heavily armored, ultra-aggressive ones
just keep on comin'.
On the downside, some level-end boss monsters seem way too tough.
(Should it take 25 game restores to defeat
one of these beasts?) Seventeen levels
seems a bit lightweight for a major game.
About once every four hours, the game
locked up my system and I had to reboot.
And be forewarned: only those with a 3D
accelerator card and a 266 MHz or faster
machine get to play. (200MHz? Slide-show
But, all in all, Descent III is a remarkable game: immersive, challenging,
beautifully designed. Unlike a lot of the other eye-candy out there, it has both
steak and sizzle. The level designs contain some of the most breathtaking
sights ever seen in a computer game and they are filled with cunning enemies
just waiting to sink their steel claws into your smoking carcass.
Well done, Outrage. Definitely the best of the Descent games to date.