Descent: FreeSpace-The Great War

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a game by Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 7.5/10 - 4 votes
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See also: Old School Games, Cult Classic Games, Space Games
Descent: FreeSpace-The Great War
Descent: FreeSpace-The Great War
Descent: FreeSpace-The Great War
Descent: FreeSpace-The Great War

What does Interplay's campaign-based Descent: Freespacs have to do with the existing Descent games? To be "onest, , not much--the'j both take place in space., and the programming team is the same. Oh, and they're both utteity awesome examples of space shooters done right.

Instead of poking around labyrinthine mine shafts, Free-space lets you fly freely into space, battling on the front iines of a galactic war. Trouble is, this war has attracted a third party more powerful than either of the other two sides. Mow what?

The very tense, nstanth engaging Descent: Freespace cuts to the chase--there are some cinemas, but not as many as in Wing Commander. t's clearly a shooting game .vith a good plot, not a'movie with a few guns. Sharp controls, force -feedback support, and a logical, customizable HUD make flying easy, while crisp sounds of laser fire and inter-ship communications match the equally brilliant graphics. Highly detailed textures and immense snips make Freespace worthy of the space campaign genre.

The only major drawback in DF is its iag-filled internet play, but as always, you can expect a patch to address some of that Otherwise, grab a decent quality flight joystick and take to the skies--Descent: Freesoace delivers one of the most enjoyable space operas in recent memory.

Download Descent: FreeSpace-The Great War


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews


As a novice pilot assigned to the GTD Bastion, you are about to fight for your life and the lives inhabiting entire planets. Planets including Earth.

As the game begins, you are at war with a race known as the Vasudans. Since discovering sub-space, the Vasudans are the only sentient, spacefaring race humans have encountered. Of course, you are embroiled in a long and bloody war.

While fighting the Vasudans for several missions, rumors begin to surface of a third race. Jet-black ships with shields impervious to our attacks are destroying both Vasudan and Terran ships by the score. Command tells you to ignore these rumors, which you do, until the rumors show up, destroying everything in their path. All attempts at communication are met with hostilities. Their technology is far beyond your own. And worst of all, they’re looking for Earth.

It’s time to scramble for your very survival. Alliances must be made, technology must be developed, and many missions must be flown and won in order to ensure the survival of the human race.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Okay, so the story isn’t the most original, but its not bad considering it is one of the few weak points in Volition’s awesome space combat simulation. Compared to X-wing vs. TIE Fighter and Wing Commander: Prophecy, this game rules. I am happy to say that everything that made XvT and WC great is here in Descent: Freespace and everything bad about them is made better. In short, this is one spectacular game.

Gameplay proceeds in a linear fashion. You must complete the basic mission objectives in order to advance. Missions are clearly laid out for you in command briefings. Once a mission is completed you are debriefed and if you did very well, you advance in rank and may receive a medal or two (or three or four).

There are no live actors in this game; all cut-scenes are made with computer-created characters. Because of this the movies add to the advancing story. You are able to focus on the game instead of goof-ball acting. In fact, there are very few cut scenes in the game at all, just enough to advance the story and give the bigger picture of the war around you.

Which brings me to another pleasant surprise in FreeSpace: The fate of the universe does not rest on your shoulders alone. You get the sense that something bigger is going on and you play an important, but coordinated role.

Descent: Freespace missions are diverse, interesting, surprising and best of all fun. It seems about half the missions go as planned and the others harbor surprises which make you adapt to the situation. A cruiser may suddenly jump in, enemies may have shielding you weren’t aware of, they may begin destroying their own transports, someone may send a distress call, an ambush may be awaiting you.

Single player rocks! But multiplayer is fun too. I often lamented that Wing Commander: Prophecy didn’t have multiplayer support because it was such a wonderful engine. Thank goodness Volition had the good sense to include it. LAN play is great (except it’s TCP/IP only -- grrrr), but playing it over a modem dial-up networking connection is futile. You really need a faster-than-modem connection to the Internet for this game to be playable, even with the patches.


Spectacular. Not in a flashy sort of way like Incoming or Forsaken, but Freespace’s graphics have depth and richness. The engines glow, the sun’s glare hampers vision, the ships are highly detailed, and you can see off into infinity. Missiles pause briefly as they are ejected, before their thrust kicks in; shockwaves emit from large explosions (don’t get too close!); and, of course, lasers glow.

Now, I mostly played with a 3Dfx board, but did try the game in regular Direct 3D mode. I honestly couldn’t tell a lot of difference except for a small speed hit. Kudos to Volition for a beautiful game.


Audio is also very good. Sound effects rumble and scream, which is the way I like them. I hate it when violent games have wimpy sounds that don’t match the weapon. This game delivers the goods, you know when that cap ship goes down.

The music in the game is subtle, but clever. It seems to be dynamic and changes according to the mood of the game, building tension before a possible ambush and playing victory or defeat music at the appropriate time. This is good stuff.

I also enjoyed the thumping of the missiles locked onto me. I could judge the distance to the locked missile by the distance between the beats so I had a fairly good idea when to chaff and evade. Excellent idea, much appreciated.

System Requirements

Pentium 133 with hardware acceleration or P166 required minimum, approx. 240 MB free hard disk space (450 for typical install -- required if you want to patch the game as far as I can tell), 8X CD-ROM drive, 32 MB RAM, DirectSound compliant sound card, supports multiple graphics cards and Direct 3D.


Nothing to speak of as far as documentation is concerned. I actually lost it pretty much right off because I never needed to refer to it. Descent: Freespace comes with a flight controls card that is handy and even though it doesn’t have good documentation the game has an internal training system. It trains you in intervals, so you don’t get bored with training the entire first ten missions of the game. Instead you take it in three small sets of training missions scattered throughout the first segment of the game. You can skip them, but they are very helpful and well placed. Good idea guys!

Bottom Line

When asked what my favorite game is, I have said Descent (and II) without hesitation for a long, long time. I don’t change my mind easily and this game still has to pass the test of time, but for the first time, I hesitate before I reply. Descent: Freespace is a real kick for space combat freaks. It is the first of its kind done right, in my humble opinion. While the storyline is not terribly engaging, enjoyable gameplay more than makes up the difference. Try out the demo and see if you agree.

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

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