Review by perfectcire
"A must-have title"
Descent is a series unique First Person Shooters, in that if offers 360 degrees of freedom. However, it is inexplicably ignored by most of the FPS community, set aside for more popular series such as Quake and Unreal. While those games have their merits, the Descent series has always kept me coming back for more, whereas most FPSes are fun for a while, but get old. Feel free to call me a fanboy, but Descent goes above (literally) and beyond the definition of a First Person Shooter.
Gameplay (overall): 9
Whereas most shooters limit you to forward, backwards, left, and right, the Descent series introduces up and down to the equation, as well as banking left and right. This was unheard of when Descent was released, and some people even reported having motion sickness from playing. Having 3 dimensions of movement takes the game to a whole new level, as leading the target and predicting their movements becomes much more important than reflexes. Some nice additions from the previous Descent games are 3 ships to pick from, 4 if you have the expansion pack. Each ship has it's own unique strengths and weaknesses, and fit a certain playing style. The familiar Pyro-GL is a jack of all trades, and master of none, possessing average firepower, speed, and shielding. The Magnum, nicknamed the "tank", is slow moving, but armed to the teeth and hard to bring down. The Phoenix is the opposite of the Magnum, having less weaponry, and weak shields, but can fly circles around the other ships. Finally, there's the dreaded Black Pyro, possesing as much as, if not more, firepower than the Magnum, while only being slightly slower than the Pyro-GL, and having 1% less shields. While it has a distinctive advantage over the other ships (as it was designed for single-player, and not multiplayer), it hardly ruins the game, and a skilled pilot can take one down in any ship. Next, on to the weapons. Descent 3 has an impressive arsenal, consisting of 10 primary weapons, and 9 secondarys. Some of them are pretty run-of-the-mill, such as lasers, concussion missiles, and homing missiles, while some are quite original, such as the Cyclone Missile (a missle which splits into several small homing missles), the Fusion cannon (charge it up to deal more damage, but be careful not to overcharge, as you'll damage yourself), and the Black Shark (a missile which draws other ships into a vortex, rendering them immobile and helpless). All things considered, Descent 3's gameplay is an amazing experience, and you'll want to keep coming back for more.
Single Player: 5
Descent 3's single player is a letdown compared to Descent 1 and 2's action oriented gameplay, focusing more on mission objectives and puzzles. While this may sound like a nice break from the same old "find keys, destroy reactor, get out" formula, it gets boring quickly. Large fights are now few and far between, and the majority of each level consists of following the guidebot from objective to objective, killing a few robots on the way. The story is more in-depth than the previous two games, but the cinematacs are plagued with poor acting, and the characters don't quite look right. Descent 3's single player is purely mediocre, with nothing in particular that stands out.
If you managed to play Descent 3's single player without uninstalling the game, then you're in for a surprise, as the multiplayer experience is simply amazing. While it is harder to pick up than most FPS games, you quickly get used to flying in 3 dimensions, and eventually it comes naturally. The multiplayer games are more chaotic then any other game I've played, with shots flying everywhere, as well as other player's ships. There are no overpowered "noob cannons", and other than a few weapons nobody would voluntarily use, no balance issues. While PXO is unreliable at times, it is usually an invaluable tool. The only gripe I have is that good maps are hard to come by, and that the community is rather small, the majority of servers being empty (but that's not saying that you can't find anyone to play with). Descent 3 is one of the best, if not the best multiplayer game I have ever played, and will remain on my hard drive for years to come.
The graphics in Descent 3 are great, even by todays standards. The textures are all highly detailed, and the models for everything are top-notch. It supports fog effects, curved surfaces, and has excellent lighting effects. There are also a few nice touches, such as the robots death animations, with them shorting out and spiralling out of control, and finally exploding, sending several bits and peices of them flying. Some more effects include arcs of electricity shooting across your ship when it's damaged, and a shield sphere lighting up on other ships when you score a sucessful hit. This is the first Descent game where you can fly outside, and you can tell they put extra work into the outdoor areas, having hills, valleys, and various other terrain, as well as a convincing sky. Descent 3's graphics are no match for games like Unreal Tournament 2004, but are still breathtaking.
The sound in Descent 3 is good, with no dull sound effects, and a few extras. Every weapon sounds powerful, from the weak starting lasers, to the almighty Mega Missle. You can tell what weapon the enemy is using from the sound, which is useful if they're attacking you from behind, and want to know how to defend yourself. The music, however, leaves something to be desired. While Descent 1 and 2's techno and rock music keeps your adrenaline flowing, D3's soundtrack consists mostly of repetitive synthesized beats, and you'll have the same experience with the music turned off. While a few tracks are memorable, for the most part D3's music is forgettable.
Descent 3 is a revolutionary game, and while it has a few minor flaws, they are far overshadowed by it's merits.
Pros: Amazing gameplay, good graphics, solid sound, incredible multiplayer experience.
Cons: Lackluster music, small multiplayer community, boring single player.
Overall Score: 9
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/13/04
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