Click on image to visit site
Interplay worked hard to make the sequel as good as the first episode. Featuring a new set of graphics, in-between cinematic sequences, additional options for single and multi-player games, as well as new weapons and deadly foes, "Descent 2" looks and plays better.
The opening sequence will show your ship flying through a field of asteroids to reach the PTMC station. As you are approaching the base, hidden inside a large asteroid, you receive the authorization to enter in docking bay 3. But instead of receiving the honors, the PTMC found a way to cheat you. A specific clause in your mercenary contract mentions that PTMC reserves the right to keep you on retainer for up to 72 hours, which according PTMC officials will be long enough to gather reconnaissance information. Sensors have tracked down an alien presence in a distant system called Zeta Aquilae, and before you had time to get off from your ship, it was equipped with a warp drive prototype so that you can do the 'jump' to the Zeta Aquilae system. Despite your first refusal, the threat of suspending your fee made you think twice about the whole affair, and by the time you made up your mind, you were already at jump point alpha, ready for your new mission.
|In the asteroid field|
Speaking of action, "Descent 2" won't disappoint you in this matter with over thirty new types of robots, and ten new devastating weapons. If you are not familiar with Descent, we invite you to read our review. To resume the game in a few words, it is a first-person perspective game featuring 360 degrees of freedom within a 3D textured environment, where you must destroy the reactors placed in the different mines, and eliminate the mine robots that were altered by an alien race.
Fortunately, the sequel is not limited to a pack of new enemies and weapons into an entire new set of levels, which was the case for Doom 2. Several options have been added which render the game even more interesting for "Descent" players, and challenging for newcomers. Among the most noticeable improvements, the graphics come first. If you have a computer with a Pentium processor, you will enjoy the SVGA detailed resolution for both animations and the game. You can even increase the resolution to 800 by 600, but you will have to give up the cockpit and play with a full screen view. Otherwise, the standard VGA graphics will provide 486's owners with excellent graphics and a fast pace game play, whether you choose to play full screen or not.
The second important addition to the game is your guide-bot. This 'intelligent' robot will help you find your way throughout the complex network of galleries, tunnels and rooms formed by the mines. If asked, "Descent" players would tell you it was easy to get lost in the mines, but today with the presence of the guide-bot, it just became an old memory. It does not mean the robot will do all the work for you though. You will first have to locate and release it before you can ask for help. In the first levels, its location will be close to your drop point, but as you progress in the game, finding the guide-bot will become more difficult. Of course, using the guide-bot is not necessary to play with "Descent 2", but it sure makes your life easier. Once it is released, you can ask it to locate various places in the mines or special items. You will see the robot going after what you asked for, and following it through the maze of galleries will bring you to the desired location. If you stop moving or encounter resistance from the other robots, you will get a message from your guide-bot telling you it is 'Coming back on you'. After a few seconds or more, depending its advance, you will effectively see it coming back and forth to show you the correct path. There are various things you can ask to your guide-bot. Other than the goals (successively the blue, yellow and red keys, then the reactor itself), you can ask the robot to find energy and shield power-ups, enemy robots, the energy center or the hostages. You can even request that it stays away from you, and stop sending you messages. Your guide-bot can also be used for reconnaissance purposes. Using the camera installed on the robot, you can view on a small screen what awaits you at the corner, and elaborate an attack plan.
There is another method to keep from getting lost apart from the guide-bot. When dropping a marker in a specific location, you will be prompted for a small description that will be represented on the 3D map by a number followed by the text you entered. Up to nine markers can be used this way in a single player game, and only two per player in a multi-player session. While it won't provide you with the same help as the guide-bot, it is useful to pinpoint an important place on the map, and should your guide-bot be destroyed by too many shots, you will be glad to still have the markers.
Like "Descent", the 3D map will indicate the emplacement of key locations such as colored doors (blue, yellow & red), the exit, the reactor and your drop point, once you visited them. Somehow it may be a bit tricky to locate your ship's position in this 3D representation, and therefore you can zoom in and out, pan and rotate the map every time you display it on screen.
Another addition of "Descent 2" is the presence of control panels that can open hidden walls, turn off force fields, unlock doors and sometimes release harmful robots. The only things you could interact with in the original game were the doors and some screens scattered around that you were able to blow out with a single shot. Now that control panels can be activated, (or should I say deactivated with a shot), it gave the designers the possibility to add some problem solving. For instance, I remember one particular level where after destroying the reactor and asking my guide-bot to find the exit, I ended up blocked by a force field in front of the exit. The problem was that I had only 50 seconds left, and absolutely no ideas where the panel controlling the field was. Although I desperately looked around for it, my life brutally ended with the destruction of the mine. At least, I learnt from my errors, and never again did I destroy a reactor before I was assured there was nothing between the exit and me.
It is of course easier to said than done, as there will be tons of robots waiting for you in the mines. "Descent 2" features over 30 types of them, all more dangerous than the others. Some are capable of firing two different weapons (lasers & missiles), and there is even one sort that will not be completely destroyed once you blow it up. It will collect some of the pieces around, and transform into four small missile launchers that are amazingly redoubtable. The AI of the robots have been thoroughly changed, so that robots don't stay immobile once you hit them. I was stunned to see them attacking in my rear when I thought they were just hiding somewhere, waiting for me to show up. Besides, each robot has specific weapons and abilities, and believe me, they are using them cunningly. One in particular called the Thief-Bot, will always try to steal weapons from your ship and reduce your fire power. Because of its incredible speed, I found it very difficult to destroy which brought me to give up the chase after a while, and instead stay on my guard.
To help you in your struggle, there are ten additional weapons you can equipped your ship with. Among the more powerful, you will find the mercury missiles and the omega cannon which are perfect when you need to go through heavy defenses. One of my favorite new weapon is the guided missile that you can control and blow up at distance. The only regret I had was that it explodes after it runs out of fuel, which leaves you only 30 seconds to find your target.
Not considered as a weapon, but rather as a power-up, the afterburners will increase your speed by 100%, which means in simple terms, double your current speed. Like the headlights, the afterburners consume energy, and although they run on a different energy bank, it drains power from your energetic reserve. If you use the headlights at the same time, the two devices can be very demanding in energy and leave you with very little power to use your weapons. To prevent this, you can turn off your headlights whenever the lamps in the galleries are bright enough to look around. Beware that the lamps can be destroyed by your fire or enemy's fire, and thus plunge you into the dark at the mercy of your enemies.
You can discover other power-ups in the mines, but for the most, they are the same as in "Descent": cloaking, invulnerability, extra life, shield and energy boosts. The map power-up, however, is brand new and once you find it, you will have access to the complete map of the level.
|Arriving in the Brimspark system|
Last but not least, the multi-player support is the cherry on the cake. With the support of a modem/serial connection for two players and IPX protocol for up to 12 players, "Descent 2" is the best choice for a multi-player game. There are plenty of options you can set up to change the game such as difficulty, the reactor's resistance, the maximum time allowed per level, the number of kills required to advance a level, the ability to use a camera from a marker's location, and more. There are also new types of net games with the three anarchy modes (alone, by teams, and with robots), the cooperative mode, and a variant of the Team Anarchy mode called Capture-The-Flag. In this mode, each team will be assigned a color and a flag, the goal being to capture the enemy's flag and bring it back to your base for a reward of five kills. When one team is victorious, the flag will reappear randomly in the level, so that the game can continue.
Written by Frederick Claude
Click here for screen shots.
Most popular sound cards supported.
Web site: Parallax Software
Interplay Productions Inc.,
17922 Fitch Avenue,
Irvine, CA 92714.
Web site: Interplay
Email address: Interplay
Interplay Productions Ltd.,
Harleyford, Henley Road,
Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 2DX.
Copyright © 1996 Coming Soon Magazine, Inc. All Rights
Reproduction in whole or in part, in any form or medium without express written permission of Coming Soon Magazine is prohibited.