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Descent
DescentEven though games like RPG legend Ultima Underworld had introduced a pseudo 3D perspective some time earlier, no game had really dared enter the third dimension until the mid-1990s. In 1995, that situation was about to change with Parallax Software's first title Descent which led (action) gaming into a new dimension. Gamers and press alike were euphoric about the game since it featured, among other things, action-filled multiplayer battles that guaranteed hours of gaming fun.
 
The third dimension:
Your spacecraftThe story had purely embellishing purposes - the working robots in a mine of the Terran Mining Corporation went crazy and turned against the mining workers - and served to hunt the dangerous robots through 30 levels and free the captured workers. To this end, you took over the controls of a small spacecraft and entered the tunnels of Lunar Base I. In particular the first minutes in your craft were spectacular, for although manoeuvring in the third dimension required some training, it gave you an unparalleled feeling. And training was essential to master the fast twist and turns necessary for survival, especially in the higher levels. Likewise imperative was an impeccable memory, since it happened all too quickly to loose track in the winding 3D passages - a fact that was only badly compensated for by an intricate 3D map.
 
Armed to the teeth:
Enemy robot at 12:00As with all action games, you started out pathetically equipped, but in the course of the game you aimed better laser, plasma, Gauss cannons, or missiles at your enemies who in turn happened to fire the same weaponry back at you. Besides this, the metal behemoths reacted with a startling intelligence by deftly evasing incoming missiles or chasing you down the tunnels. The nasty thief bot even stole some of your precious weapons that were difficult to recapture because of its nimbleness. Invulnerability or cloaking devices enabled you to fool your opponents for some time. These and other features turned the game more and more into a full-blown action thriller: cool lighting effects, winding and dimly lit passages as well as a driving Soundblaster soundtrack let the adrenaline surge through your veins. The suspense reached ever new heights when you had freed all mine workers, had only 60 seconds left to leave the exploding mine and were suddenly ambushed by a horde of robots...
Details:
Producer:
Parallax

Released:
In 1995

Nostalgia:
high

System:
MS-DOS, Win

Playable?
more or less

Available?
Low budget

Links:
Interplay,
Volition,
Outrage
Descent = going down?
Boss enemyAfter the substantial success of the first installment, it soon became evident that there would be a sequel. In 1996, that sequel eventually shipped with Descent 2 which offered more action, improved graphics and enemies, greater mine complexes and enhanced system requirements. The game's best innovation was a small guide bot, which at your command showed you the way through the winding tunnels and thus avoided the biggest drawback of the first Descent. Also the second part was perfectly suited for heated multiplayer fights that sometimes culminated in fits of rage and stiff fingers.
In 1999, the third installment was to follow, which was now produced by Outrage but wasn't able to continue the series' line of success despite positive verdicts. Although you could fly above the surface for the first time, the game seemed to have finally lost its innovative appeal. Volition, a group of former Parallax programmers, also developed Descent: Freespace 1 & 2 which were both set in space but had nothing in common with the original Descent (except for the name, of course). Due to the unfavourable sales figures of Descent 3, it's unfortunately more than unlikely that the 3D action classic would be given another successor.
© 02-20-2001 by CE

 
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