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Descent 1,II & 3 – Retrospective

27 Comments


The Descent games were well loved, technologically impressive tunnel shooters. You’re a mercenary, the ‘Material Defender’, hired by Post Terran Mining Corporation to deal with a bunch of crazy robots that are taking over mines. The game spawned 2 sequels, and recently a kickstarter to create a new modernized version was launched – if you have fond memories of Descent it might be worth checking out.

And you can buy all 3 Descent games from gog.com

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27 Comments

  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Martin Lo

    I was surprised Scott didn't show the left MFD functions, like rear view camera and TV guided missiles. Every time I see FPV drone footage I'm reminded of this game.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    zZiL341yRj736

    They need to rereleased this game in DOOM new engine.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Jari Haukilahti

    The problem with descent 3 was really the system requirements other games didn't need the hardware and was funnier- Any geforce 2 or 200 mx or 440mx had trouble running at 640 x480 Yes i run it at 360x and it was not fun -Bought a Geforece 4200 year later and by the the game was dead and patched cancelled.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Axel Schweiß

    The Descent 3 Engine was more advanced than Unreal Tournament, but yet failed, this has reasons:
    *Level design: Descent 1 was like Doom, just fully 3D, heavily relying on tactics. Descent 2 made the gameplay more linear by introducing the Guide Bot, and Descent 3 went fully mission/puzzle based gameplay like Half Life or Tomb Raider.
    *Half Life and Tomb Raider made this more better. Half life has a good plot (it is one of the few games I would watch in cinema if it released a film) and Tomb raider has puzzles that can be solved with common sence (and has female buttocks). Descent 3's Plot has "futuristic" puzzles that involve carrying floppy disks to suprisingly bad user interfaces with a spaceship. Or flying the spaceship through south Korean subways. They should have sticked to Doom style gameplay.
    *The great thing about Descent 3 was, combining indoor gameplay (combining per room BSP with old school Descent's portal rendering between rooms) in the style of Unreal with a flight simulator style outdoor gameplay. This very outdoor gameplay was much underused. With a more nonlinear gameplay, the could have forced you to go to the surface more often, and get attacked by Huds more often.
    *Descent 3 is pourly portable. The levels use scripts in the shape of DLL files. This allowes a lot of interesting scripts, but can't be easyly ported to Linux or othe systems. It is also a security risk, for malware.
    *The Level Editor is badly documented. They don't explain how to make outdoor levels (hint: in the level view, hold shift, and click terrain cells to change the texture.) Without a modding scene, a game is much less important.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Klaüss Vizcarra

    What games are you mention between Outrage and Volition in your explanation? I'm trying to find them…

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    syrophenikan

    This looked amazing running on an S3 Virge chip video card. No more pixelation.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    WR3ND

    Overload seems to have flown under the radar way too much. Shame. Meanwhile, currently working on a high-end ~1994 486 build to, in part, play Descent.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Black Hole

    Well done

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Please Do Tell

    I still jam to the soundtrack of Descent 2

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Strictly Worse Gaming

    One of my main gripes about the Descent series is the lack of visual continuity between games. I understand that the changing technology allowed the devs to do more with the environment, but the flashy new visuals were such a departure from the previous iteration that at times it felt like a different game. That being said, Descent is still my Top 5 favs of all time so it's a small quibble in an otherwise top-notch series. Also, you're right, Descent 3 was pretty temperamental.

    Thanks for a great summary.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Gigagamer74

    I was shocked by the influence of the VESA Local Bus on the performance of the Descent 1 on my 486 computer. Today I am shocked by Overload. This is such a game, what should have been Descent 3.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    BradiKal61

    My 486 machine is still sitting on my downstairs computer desk. LOVED playing Descent II on it all night long

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    DaveDexterMusic

    Descent II really increased the variety and depth of the levels and palette but nothing beats those D1 enemies. The hulks are still intimidating af from 1 but they all looked kind of goofy in D2.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    H H

    HOLY shit, I never realised you had a Descent video !!! Nice

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    6yjjk

    Apart from TFX, Descent is the only game I ever bought, and I bought them all. LOVED 1, liked 2 (although the thiefbot and the guide bot were equally annoying), but never really got into 3… not sure I ever completed it, even.

    Had a regular 1-on-1 with a mate of mine in D1, and over several months I conditioned him. Never launched a mega-missile without sending a couple of flares first. Eventually I could just fire the flares then lurk in the shadows watching him thrash about in panic before I finished him off. Or when I was down to about 3 shields, the flares would get him to run away.

    Good times.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    James Carmichael

    The PS1 version of the original had voice acting and cutscenes by the same people as 2 I believe. I recognise Dravis' voice from other games, but I can't put my finger on which games they were.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Cypher501

    Have you gotten a chance to play Overload made by the OG developers? If Matt Toschlog had the legal privilege, he totally would have named Overload Descent.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Michael Bellerue

    Fun fact, you can bump the resolution in Descent 2 up to 800×600, or even 1280×1024. For the time, that was kinda badass.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Andrew Wolfenstein

    Descent 2 my fav descent, that heavy industrial metal soundtrack, the nostalgic gameplay, those awesome levels and enemies. Descent 3 went completely south with losing your ship and material defender almost dying at the start. Sad, depressing, and dark. D2 the best👍🏻👍🏻

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    The white rhino

    1 and 2 were brilliant. 3..not so much. Forsaken was better.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Ronsard1979

    Descent II's Guide Bot does help you find hostages;
    Guide Bot commands look like this the first time you release it:
    0. Next Goal: Red Key
    1. Find Energy Powerup
    2. Find Energy Center
    3. Find Shield Powerup
    4. Find Any Powerup
    5. Find A Robot
    6. Find A Hostage
    7. Stay Away From Me
    8. Find My Powerups
    9. Find The Exit
    T. Supress Messages

    8 is usefull after you loose a life :).

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    LeWoY2

    check overload on steam it is the new descent 🙂

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Bomberfox

    descent 1 and 2 are available on the playstation as well 😛

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    kilroy987

    I felt like the Descent 2 intro was a huge compliment to gamers, and wanting to get into game dev myself, it really added enthusiasm to where game dev was going… until big corporation realized the money involved and they stepped in. There are a few good gems around, but so much is homogenized money grabs. I tried Descent 2 way back on a primitive pair of shutter glasses that actually worked on a normal CRT monitor – but the scaling was so bad, I felt like I was shooting tiny little toys floating in front of my face. I didn't like Descent 3 much – I liked flying the ship around, of course, but the situations were too story driven for me to feel the isolation and imagination that Descent 1 and 2 offered. I like the parallels of getting lost in the interest of game development and how lost I feel in the world of a game meant to make me feel that way. Descent 3's story just didn't offer that agency, and that formula worked best for the series.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    csiri

    A reboot is in the works called Overload!

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Sun

    I have descent 1 and 2 on disc, but I can't get them to run in any virtual machine properly

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
    kilroy987

    I always figured the reason the robots didn't fire at the guide bot was simply because it was a robot and they considered it kindred. I thought Descent 2 was a very confident and competent evolution of Descent. But I was basically unhappy with Descent 3. The cutscenes were awful depressing looking 3d, the story tried too hard, and some of the robots were just annoyingly difficult to fight. I prefer the simple run around, get keys, destroy the reactor formula – not flying around protecting the station cores from getting attacked, etc.

    Reply

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