When it was debuted at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago earlier this year, you had to fight your way to get to see the monitor, let alone play it. Doom 2 was months away, a faint glimmer of sun nestling over a Doom-clone encrusted horizon and everyone was hungry for more. Descent fitted the bill perfectly: it was fast, texture-mapped, very easy to get into and you could even look up and down. At last, a Doom clone that at least had the potential to go a stage further.
A star is born
So, its like Doom, so whats new? Well, its more of a slippery fish than a trundling troll. Unlike just about every other 3D shoot-em-up of this ilk (i.e. Wolfenstein, Corridor 7 - and yes, Doom) that has you as marching marine masochist, armed with shotgun/machine gun/pulsar laser, you pilot an Israeli-made Syssx PyroGX fighter craft equipped with 20 Syssx AV42 Avenger missiles and a pair of illegally modified AG435 industrial argon-cyanide lasers.
So whats the deal? Well, the year is 2169 and your provider/employer, PostTerran Minerals Corporation, is under a vicious surprise attack. You are their best Material Defender pilot (of course), but this time you're up against one tough cookie. Theres something out there - nobody knows what it is, but it ain't Sooty and Sweep on vacation. Its already attacked and captured PTMC's lucrative mining operations on Pluto and expanded its powerbase rapidly; capturing more mines every day. Now its heading towards Earth, and things look pretty crappy for humankind.
Worse still, you work for the biggest bureaucracy in history - this place has got more red tape than you need to make that sad Blue Peter mobile thingy. Your instructions are a self-conflicting jumble of terse orders. Your primary objective is to destroy the mines, but you are also ordered to rescue any survivors (whatta sweetie!) Additionally, your orders require you to wipe out the hordes of enemy robots and stop them from reaching Earth at all costs.
Its a dirty job...
However, its not all bad. Some replacement weapons have been smuggled into some of the mines, and as far as your intelligence reports go, the enemy dont know your exact whereabouts so youve at least got the initiative. You are advised, however, that once you enter a mine, you can expect It to become aware of your presence and take. every action to make your mission a failure.
The aliens have established sensitive control centres, deep within each mine (as they do). If you can find them, you must destroy them using your missiles and get out of the mine before it self-destructs. Completing a mission successfully will earn recognition beyond your wildest dreams and the chance to go in and do it all again - if It hasnt reached Earth yet!
The developers at Parallax (comprising the guys who brought us Microsoft Flight Simulator, Car & Driver and Ultima Underworld l & II) have concentrated on making the game engine as fast and flexible as possible. For starters, it incorporates a six-degree-of-freedom, texture-mapped graphics engine and a revolutionary, new local lighting system to give the feeling of total immersion and depth. It also features fully-rendered, texture-mapped backgrounds, animated wall designs (spinning air-fans, flashing control panels and rotating beacons), as well as action-linked, digitally sampled sound effects and morphing nasties.
This translates into a very intense and graphic player environment that gives a great sense of freedom and control whilst at the same time being quite claustrophobic. As a result it absolutely drips atmosphere, like the slime oozing down the dank (and no doubt smelly) mine walls. The clever use of hundreds of texture maps (including glowing uranium rocks, graffiti-painted walls and moving access doors and ladders) turns what is in essence a simple 3D-maze/shoot-em-up into a true action blaster that looks better than any 2.5 D tunnel trotter youve ever seen.
And so to the control system (ahem). Again, Parallax have tried to make it as instinctive, intuitive and obvious as possible. Top marks for effort, but when it comes to results the report card would without a doubt read could do better. Players can either opt to use joystick and keyboard, mouse and keyboard or just the keyboard. Its also Thrustmaster compatible so you dont (in theory) have to use the keyboard at all, but in terms of simplicity its akin to death by twisted fingers.
Its not that there are thousands of keys to cram over, just the cut and thrust speed of it all. Certainly, your Syssx PyroGX can duck, dive, hover, pitch, roll, scroll lef and right, making it one of the most controllable ships imaginable. The only problem is that its an absolutely swine to control at any kind of speed, especially when being hotly pursued and blasted at by numerous unfriendlies. The lack of cockpit instrumentation doesnt help either: there are no indicators of pitch and roll, altitude and swing, making it very difficult to establish which way up you are and where youre flying, especially in some of the darker mines. As a result its very easy to get lost or trapped in a corner wondering what the hells going on. Performance (as they say) does improve with use, but if Descent is going to do itself justice, Parallax really should consider making it a little easier to control.
Apart from that, however, Descent is amazing. Its fast, fluid, beautifully rendered and very atmospheric. Even the sound seems to come at you from all angles - definitely a game to whack up the bass and stretch that super woofer! Its also refreshingly difficult: the nasties are very nasty indeed and get even nastier as the game progresses, morphing into horribles (one up from nasties) and learning strategies based upon previous encounters, making this more than your average shoot-em-up.
There are also going to be over 30 levels to complete, VR compatibility and even a four-player network option.
The first-person shooter goes full cirde in an excellent conversion of the PC hit Descent. Descent is a riveting game of reflexes, skill, and patience.
Which Way Is Up?
You pilot a spaceship on a mission to destroy renegade mining robots. The object is to destroy the core in each level and rescue hostages. While the plot is simple, the techniques are not. Levels take a similar tone to Doom: Find colored cards that open like-colored doors while shooting enemies in the process. Levels get bigger, harder, and enemies get more aggressive as you descend further into the game.
The controls are complicated but manageable. The joypad works very well, but for a real treat try playing with the Analog Joystick peripheral (see "GamePro Labs" in this issue). Every controller button is used, and there are even simultaneous two-button actions. While this plethora of functions is for the better, some functions (like dropping mines) are difficult to execute in the heat of battle. You also select from an arsenal of standard and special weapons, which you collect.
Piloting the ship is another control dilemma. You can go anywhere in the mazelike stages, limited only by walls and other barriers. Flying in a fully functional 360-degree environment and exchanging fire with enemy drones takes practice, but once mastered it's second nature.
A Decent Descent The music is a plus. Harsh rock and techno-pop tunes never let up and perfectly fit the stages. The sound effects are a range of laser blasts, explosions, and squeals of enemy craft-nothing outstanding, but sufficient to create atmosphere.
The graphics are smooth, but the game seriously drags when the action gets heavy-so much that it sometimes looks like slow motion. The most striking visuals are the colored light sources in the dark corridors-fire a laser blast or flare and it illuminates the walls as it travels. The rendered cinematic sequences that mark the climax of each stage are also excellent.
Flying High Underground
Despite the limitations of the PlayStation controller, Descent is incredibly well done. Doom-fatigued players looking for the next challenge will want to take this Descent.
- Lost? Use the Automap feature to pinpoint your location and the various exits.
- Before destroying the main core, locate the exit You have only a short time before the place blows up after destroying the core.
- Detonate mines by shooting them from a distance. They also go off when an enemy gets too close, or when you get too dose.
- Be careful around these purple webs-enemies love to teleport out of them. Speed past these areas and drop mines.
As first-person 3-D shooters continue to impress video gamers, one limitation still holds programmers back from making the 3-D feel even closer to real--the ground. Nine out of 10 first-person games still have the same old orientation with ceiling, walls and the ground to keep everything close to our reality. Even with new height-mapping techniques to add varieties of depth to the mazes, the levels were still designed to support a game theme with gravity. When you want to push past the confines of the Earth's atmosphere you run into trouble where there might not be gravity to use as a basis for ground in your levels.
Breaking past the redundant 3-D titles, Descent for the computer and now for the PlayStation gives the player smooth 360-degree rotation with control over forward, backward and side-to-side movements. Pitch, roll and yaw are also determined by the controller giving you completely free movement of your craft.
Weapons consist of two storage bays that are fired separately from one another. You can select from your acquired weapon and power-ups to pick the item you feel is right for each situation then arm it for action.
Descent plays like many other mech-based 3-D games. Movement and battles are fast and exhilarating, allowing players to blast into enemy-held territory and start cleaning house. However, the most noticeable problem players will find with this title is its uncanny ability to confuse you to such an extent that you lose your way and can't find the right path.
The graphics and the scrolling speed are phenomenal. They provide the amount of smoothness that Descent deserves on the PlayStation. Targeting enemies and precision flying can both be completed with minimal trouble due to the close relationship the game has between action and controller.
Descent is so good that after trying it, all players will have this disc at the top of their 3-D game list. It has enough gameplay and diversity to put anyone to the test in challenge and map memorization. Be forewarned, though: The levels in Descent are enough to make even the player with the greatest natural sense of direction sweat profusely as they try to find the one tunnel where they haven't been to before.
When you are shooting at enemies in a confined hallway, the light from your lasers can be seen as it reflects off the walls. This is not just the ordinary bright flash of color as seen in other games but it is a close-to-real reflection on the walls as the beam moves away from your ship. It also provides light to each area as it passes by. In addition, as your power level changes, the color of the laser reflection also changes proportionately.
These sparkling corridors are usually not the easiest to find, but they are worth using as you recharge losses your ship has taken in battle. Try to remember their location for future flights. Unfortunately, because they are useful to you, the enemies are dead set against letting you have and control these small recharge zones. Therefore, the zones are heavily defended by large groups of enemies.
- MANUFACTURER - Interplay
- DIFFICULTY - Moderate
- THEME - Simulator
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Slip in this CD and plunge deep into the lunar mines where an unknown alien race has taken over the Post Terrain Mineral Corporation. As you seek out your alien nemesis, you explore a full 360-degree environment, illustrated in stomach-churning 3D graphics. Up to eight players (over a network) search the mines for hidden power-ups, repair stations, and menacing enemy robots as they try to destroy enemy command centers.
Descend to the depths of Water-deep, young adventurer, for there are denizens to defeat, dungeons to delight in, and dudes to, er, kill, in Descent to Undermountain. That's if you ever make it to the dungeon--a healthy dose of PC savvy is likely to be required before you get your duds dirty.
Descent Does D&D
Utilizing the engine that powered 1995's immensely fun shooter Descent, DTU looks like it belongs back in 1995. While the code has been tweaked to deal with the intricacies of a complex role-playing story line, DTU still reflects its age. D&D devotees will find the character stats and setting in the Forgotten Realms city of Water-deep very familiar; as with any other D&D game, the classes, races alignments, races alignments, and six stats must < be generated before you take on the challenges of the Undermountain dungeon all by your lonesome.
That's assuming that you can get the game working, since it recalls the bad old days of DOS configurations far too clearly. Several hours of tweaking, twisting, downloading, installing, and fiddling with a range of DOS drivers for a state-of-the-art Win95 machine did not make for good spirits. Plug-and-play this ain't.
Graphically, DTU looks pretty nasty, with pixelated characters and an appropriately dark, dank dungeon, complete with flickering torches. But for all the good atmospheric intentions, it's still rough; again, it all looks a few years old. This problem is exacerbated by the bugs. Monster corpses twitch unnervingly on the ground (are they going to get up again?), disappear, reappear, and even fall into solid walls. A few of the many bug issues are fixed with the v1.1 patch currently available, but it's far from a cure-all.
Old as the HILLS
Despite a somewhat linear story line, it's clear that care was taken with the game's entertaining level designs and cunning puzzles. Character interaction with MPCs is not as engaging as it could be, and you can't escape the feeling that, despite this game's two-year delay, Descent to Undermountain still isn't finished.
- Add spells to your inventory at the bottom of the screen to get to them quickly.
- Watch the text descriptions carefully for clues as to where the danger lurks.
- Remember that clerics can Turn undead. Hit the T key.
- With more than one enemy, run toward them to strike, then retreat as they retaliate.
The most popular PC action game since Doom will finally be reaching console players for the first time. Scheduled for the PlayStation, this game puts you in the cockpit of a special assault craft.
You will engage the enemy in a variety of terrains and caverns. What makes Descent so unique, not to mention difficult, Is the fact that you can be attacked from any side. The perspective is subject to your position. You can go up, down or even diagonally. Enemies will rely on quick hit-and-runs, making use of the 3-D world.
To be frank, there aren't any shots of it in action, so there can't be an accurate comparison to the computer game. However, the pictures look good, and we'll be keeping you up-to-date with the latest on this game.
If you enjoyed the 3-D mania of Descent, you should be thrilled to hear that there will be a sequel coming out soon. The pictures shown are actually from the PC version, but rest assured, it will also be out for the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn.
Descent had you flying through mines deep underground. Descent 2 is sort of a 3-D Doom, since your perspective is totally subjective to your position. You can be attacked in almost any direction.
Secrets and special power-ups highlight this game, giving you loads of firepower to destroy the opposition.
You might notice that the graphics of this sequel are better. There is more texture-mapping and a lot more detail. Fans of the original are certain to flip over Descent 2.
Right now we're wondering if Descent 2 will use the PlayStation link cable. If it does, this game will totally rock. More on this in future issues.
Riveting 360-degree shooter action and mighty big guns tell the tale of Descent, Interplay's port of its popular PC game.
As Williams did with Doom, Interplay is crafting another awesome PC conversion, this time with the popular title Descent.
Perhaps taking a page out of the Doom book, Descent is a first-person shooter with a twist-literally: In Descent you aren't confined to 180-degree movement, but can turn and travel a full 360! This mobility lets you go anywhere in the game's giant stages. Descent puts you in the cockpit of a spaceship to wade through several mazelike levels against a plethora of enemy ships.
This early version had roughly four completed levels, but what's there is very impressive. Descent could kick off the 1996 PlayStation lineup with a blast!
The most pressing question is control. Interplay has cleverly configured the controller so that only a few practice sessions are required to fully learn your way around. The directional pad steers the ship, while the four action buttons move you in the four directions. The top L and R triggers control the weapons and the barrel roll. Control does take practice, but it can be mastered in a short time.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics shine at this stage of the game's development. Although it's pixel city when you get close to objects, the movement is fluid and hardly slows down. Some enemies are difficult to discern at a distance, but this is a game of shoot first and second, and maybe ask questions later. As you shoot, laser blasts illuminate dark hallways that they travel, for awesome visual effect.
The tunes jam. Rock and jazzy pieces spice up the action without detracting from it. The sound effects also do the game justice with laser blasts and various explosions.
After blowing up the main objective in each level, it's a race to get your butt out of the fire. For some reason, I'm reminded of that spooky voice in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland: "Find a way out!" The PlayStation's controller is perfectly suited to Descent's multiple controls. Just be glad you don't have to play this game with a keyboard.
Descent has a variety of different weapons for you to find, including concussion missiles (useful for taking out inscrutable enemies), the three-way split laser cannon, and laser level power-ups, which increase the damage that your laser inflicts on your foes.These are but a few of the many weapons of destruction at your fingertips. Now they may be violent, and they may be dangerous in the wrong hands, but surely you're the man with the right hands? Have a nice day in the catacombs.
As you advance through Descent's fiendishly twisted levels, the bad guys get nastier, the mazes become even more convoluted, and the tension will have that little vein on your temple pumping like a gas jockey. Thank your lucky stars that you'll have better firepower backing you up.This goes double for two-player mode, where, by linking up a couple of PlayStations, you'll find yourself engrossed in one of the most awe-inspiring adventures ever played out on a TV screen.
Your friends with computers are done teasing you.They can no longer boast that they can play games like Descent on their PCs while you're stuck playing yet another fighting game on your console system. Descent for the PlayStation is here--and it will blow your mind.
Why the hubbub over a new "Doom Clone"? Well, because it isn't a clone. Descent is a full 360-degree experience. Not only can you wander as freely through its mazes as you can in Doom, you're also "flying", so you have unlimited movement in a million directions (well, "unlimited" as defined by the cramped quarters you'll be exploring here).
In Descent, you must travel from outpost to outpost on different planets, rescuing hostages from an alien infestation and destroying anything that tries to stop you.Your craft is initially armed only with lasers and a few missiles, but hidden in the depths of each area are guns and new types of missiles to aid you.
In addition to rescuing hostages, you must also set chain-reactions in motion in order to render the locations useless to the invaders.This adds a new dimension of devilish difficulty to the game, as it's almost impossible to find your way out in time. This game is simply amazing.Try not to drool, kids.