Descent 3 Review

For those who haven't heard of it before, the Descent series of games seemed to be the first popularization of true 6 axis of freedom. Your protagonist is of the lone space-cowboy set. Along with various ships (3 to choose from by game's end), one guidebot to aid your navigation, and at times, your offense upon the unruly forces of a computer virus which enables a destructive nature in a horde of bots.

Descent 3 single player is somewhat linear, and the levels are often similar to the find key for a door adventures of older shooters (e.g. Wolfenstein 3D). Usually it feels more like you are doing something pressing the nature of the character, in tune with whatever storyline the designers provide you with at any moment. Regards to the cut-scenes should be made as the voice acting in these is pretty good, however the animation of the characters appears a bit inhuman/non-skeletal. Outrage clearly spent some time on them to ensure they fit with the story provided in-game. Each level has some personality to its own; in one for instance you coudln't spend too much time in the sun or else you'd burn up your shields so you would end up darting from shadow to shadow towards your final destination. Another has you darting around in a subway system trying to avoid various trains on route to the goal. These things keep dispensing tension to the gamer. Your guidebot does what it should do, guide you, rarely getting in the way. the only odd things it seems to do is pass through some objects On one set of levels, the designers included a few cliches in the game, including "dodge the x while proceeding to y", "neo-futuristic city in which you must destroy your enemy", and the ever-popular "sewers of love". These cliches are quite fun as long as you take them for what they are. This is the way Descent was meant to be: A fun filled romp through more varied locations than you can shake a GL-pointy-stick at. It's not the most cerebral of games but it will have you thinking at times.

Joysticks are recommended as you have to move in true three-dimensional space with a mishmash of physics familiar to the Descent pilot of previous showdowns. The enemy robots are some of the most creative ever seen, as they will attack you from all sides in some of the later levels, while some of the earlier ones (including the first level) seem to contain an unlimited supply of baddies being created on the spot. The plot, is just as engaging as any space shooter fan could hope. You will never feel out of sync with the actions of the universe your character resides in. Some annoying parts of the single player game exist in puzzles; one particular not-fun part of Descent 3 was when I had to find an item (the builders icon) to open a door. Completing this task has you walking through a set of columns in a particular order with the objective of lowering a forcefield or be forced to start back at the beginning. This kind of puzzle is not new to an experienced gamer; however, it can frustrate even them at their task. As with most any game, walk-throughs and cheats can help, but should probably be used sparing as it's plenty of fun on most missions. Ending Descent 3 is a huge boss battle and a large cut-scene that brought my 8x CD-ROM drive to it's cache-ing knees, fixed by replacing it with a 40x drive. There were some problems with Descent 3; most of these were fixed in the latest patch Loki released. They also released a launcher for easily setting up the game before you run it, which is useful for people who are having problems with their graphics drivers. The music and sounds in Descent3 are fantastic; I have never heard such an ear pleasing game before. The only time it wasn't right was if you were caught in between solid objects, this is very easy to understand and obviously not a problem with Loki's excellent OpenAL. I had one fatal bug with Descent 3 and it seemed to be due to some very obscure phsyics bug; to solve this I just skipped the level by applying the MORECLANG cheat.

Overall, Descent 3 should handle well for all experienced pilots but may frustrate folks new to this type of shooter. Persistence and perhaps a walkthrough will help anyone prevail in the face of uncanny evil. My multiplayer experience was far too limited to provide more than a glancing opinion. This however I will say, the multiplayer is very unique; you will not play this type of fight out in Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament. also, the Descent 3: Mercenary Pack wasn't available to play with, but I'm sure it's fun. The graphics, the sound effects, the music, and the gameplay all add up to a special experience you should not miss out on. I'd like to thank Ryan "icculus" Gordon for answering all my questions, Loki for doing a great port, and Outrage for making it in the first place.

-Zachary Slater