“Bring me my roll, hon. Dealer’s at the door!”
I once, long ago in a school newspaper article, praised computer and video
games for being, “safer than drugs, cheaper than sex, and more addictive than
crack.” Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and girls… Outrage entertainment, the kindly
Mr. Dealer, has delivered. My advice: stay not long from the dime bag.
fantastic, great, ‘I loved it,’ magnificent, smashing, rockin’, unblemished,
more fun than writing about creative uses of prized clan valuables (or worm
taxonomy), embarrassing amounts of gushing praise — all these words and more
will be used. If you hate that sort of thing you might as well just stop reading
this review right now. For the rest of you critically huddles masses, prepare
to be the choir to my preaching. Descent 3, the latest installment in
the long running, originally revolutionary, Dramamine requiring, zero-gravity
action romp, has finally hit the shelves. Praise what gods you believe in, sacrifice
your pets to them, sing praises in rain dances, buy quality multi-function joysticks
en masse, just don’t let your copy sit on the shelves for long… this sucker
is better than heroin.
For those of you who might not know, the Descent series of games casts
you as a mercenary, flying a zero- gravity craft in an attempt to kill robots
who have been infected with an evil, nano-technology virus. As all the game
mechanics are zero G, the movement possibilities, which are far to complicated
to describe here, create gamplay were simply moving around is a joy, and combat
utilizes the possibilities of a 3D engine better than anything else out there
on the market. It’s the sort of game that, once you get a good enough joystick
and become proficient at advanced maneuvering techniques, will simply astonish
you. It provides more of an intense feel of flight-sim bravado from pulling
of a beautiful maneuver than you might get from taking out a squadron of Messerchmitzs
over Ardennes, in a Spitfire, in real life.
On the other hand, full, 6-degrees-of-freedom movement can be too much for
some non-hardcore gamers to handle. For the casual gamer, Descent 3 can
be confusing, dizzying, and even neaseating. This is a game for the pro’s.
New to Descent 3, though, is the ability to fly your craft not only
through indoor, but also outdoor environments, a task done with much aplomb.
Adding the outdoor element allows for an even greater use of the maneuvering
capabilities, adds variety to the levels, and ensures that the game never gets
dull or boring, even after repeated journeys through the single player campaign.
A few new weapons, both missiles and primary guns (that’s energy or projectile)
have been added, each being incredibly effective, satisfying, and cool. The
beautifully vicious flamethrower and the ‘Ghostbusters-like’ leeching Omega
cannon being the most impressive of the bunch. Also added are a multitude of
useful objects, including a variety of intriguing mines.
Furthermore, all of the enemies, each endowed with breathtaking AI, are new
designs, each one being unique both in ability, structure, and behavior so that
each requires a specific combat approach. The cute guide bot from Descent
2 is back, this time as carry-on baggage. His more intimate nature allows
you to issue him a variety of orders, making the little ‘bot even more useful
The plot of Descent 3 involves you, reprising your familiar role of
the Material Defender, being rescued from your cliffhanger hyper-jump malfunction
(end of Descent 2) and proceeding to go on a quest to expose your evil
former employers, who seem to have been doing some extremely suspect things
with the virus.
as the plot may be (conveyed by almost laughable 3D characters in cliche, though
effective, cut scenes), it does provide adequate reason to once again, go down
into action, through 15 incredible, massive levels, enjoying the best graphics
and action on the market. The designers have even gone so far as to give you
actual, interesting objectives in each level instead of the tiresome "find
the yellow/blue/red key cards" formula.
It’s been just about one year since Unreal first
hit the stores and finally, after all that time, there is a game that can actually
best it in terms of graphics. From the modeling, colored lighting, incredible
special effects, wonderful animation, to the sheer overall feel, Descent
3 is the prettiest game yet to grace a monitor. By merging a flight simulation
engine with a more traditional indoor engine, Descent 3‘s ‘Fusion Engine’
provides outstanding graphics in both the indoor an outdoor arenas.
Sound and control are on a similar plane of greatness. The overall slickness of the audio, video, and
tangible facets of the game make the action some of the most hard hitting, and utterly satisfying out there, especially
considering the great variety and chaotic nature lent to combat by the advanced maneuverability.
In fact, the whole production of Descent 3 is very slick and remarkably
bug free. This is one of the most professionally assembled products to be released
in a long time. Its refreshingly balanced, consistent, simply oozing with high
production values and the long loving effort of game designers who are at the
top of their field.
Not enough? For once, an action game has shipped with intuitive, and perfectly
operational multiplayer. Spanning over 9 multilayer modes, game styles, and
connection types. Descent 3 even supports the old Modem-Modem connection
so two good friends can go at it with no latency. When playing over the Internet,
server listing and player ranking is provided seamlessly by Paralax Online.
Particularly impressive in the Internet gaming is that even at high ping rates,
say about 1000 or so, Descent 3 remains playable. And of course, the
number of multiplayer modes and complexity of maneuverability make Descent
3 almost as deep a multiplayer experience as the ground breaking Starsiege:
In every way that really matters, Descent 3 is a fantastic game. With
killer graphics, sound, gameplay, stability, and multiplayer it is all you need
for a long term action obsession. There is one thing though: aside from slapping
in the face all those companies who release beta products instead of fully tested
games, Descent 3 does not strictly do anything revolutionary.
However, let not an A- fool you. This is one of the very best games I’ve played
in years, and an instant recommendation for anyone who has ever fondled a joystick
or stroked a mouse. Just remember to come up for air though, there is such a thing
as dying of starvation or thirst. So get a glass, a plate, and an i.v. drip.