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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Interplay


Descent II is the Interplay's latest and best, alien robot action shootout game. Its environment is Doom-like, but with completely different settings. The game incorporates much of the same idea -- seek out everything that  moves and destroy it! However, unlike any Doom, your enemies are not live monsters, but hi-tech alien robots inside of the asteroid mines scattered throughout the universe... plus they are faster, smarter, deadlier. These robotic empires can be conquered over the modem, serial cable, or IPX network, where up to 12 players can join the blasting action (note: only 8 players can play in one particular game, but 12 players can be playing on the same network). With about 30 all-new, huge levels, a couple dozen of various robot models, and about the same number of the most advanced weapons, Descent II instantly sucks you into its explosive world.

The Review:
Like many good-quality games, Descent II offers three screen resolutions, beginning with VGA 320x400. The game setup will play a small movie to determine your system's performance and recommend the most  appropriate resolution for the movie sequences in the game. The object graphics and the map textures in Descent II are extremely detailed and the game looks great on Pentium based systems with at least 16 MB RAM. For slower machines there are six graphic control options, which enable you to change object complexity and the amount of debris from the exploding enemy robots. You can also toggle sound channels, what might improve the game speed, but at the cost of nice and powerful blasts and weapon charges that you will hear at each turn. An excellent energetic industrial soundtrack with music including Skinny Puppy and Type O Negative constantly playing while you are in the game, and sets a perfect mood for the action.

The User Interface in Descent II is very simple. During the game you can abort, save, or load your level, as well as perform absolutely any change in settings; everything from renaming your keyboard controls and calibrating the joystick, to changing the screen resolution. Descent II supports keyboard, mouse, most joysticks and VR sets, so you can set up any controller just right for ultimate performance. Also, when you are just starting to play, you don't have to remember all the "F" keys, but just F1, which will pop up all the menu keys.

A way to guide yourself in each mine is to use the map, which represents a 3-D outline or all pathways, levels, doors and the exit. At first it seems a bit complicated to orient yourself (a pointed purple circle) on the map due to the complexity of every level, although it can be rotated in every possible direction and magnified as desired. This is why you can set colored markers in the most important intersections and look for them on the map. Also, whenever you save a game, a tiny screenshot is saved and it shows up when you point at the filename in the "restore game" menu. This is a convenient feature, since it helps you recall your location in the mission... when you were still alive.

What you'll probably need the most when playing the game, is fast reaction and the ability to turn on the spot, look, toggle weapons, target and shoot everything around you. Thats all you do. There are multiple worlds, or galaxies (each consists of about 4 levels), composed of asteroids that bear old alien mines and armies of robots.  Once they worked in the mines, but now they're after you, because you are the intruder. Your mission -- to locate and destroy the main reactor deep inside the asteroids. Inside the mines you are in a fast, maneuverable spaceship with over 20 sophisticated weapons, cannons and lasers being your primary offense and missiles and "space mines" your deffense in fighting your way through the robots. What keeps you alive are the new weapons and energy/shield power-ups that slaughtered robots leave behind. But don't get carried away blasting millions of enemies around  you -- once the reactor is leveled, the time count begins and you have to get out, or else be BLOWN TO PIECES like everything else. In every mine, there are levels and all kinds of high falls, twisting holes and halls, all of which can easily take you off-balance. Descent II is quite a difficult game for starters since you constantly have to turn back into a "normal" position, while progressing along the paths and trying to fire on anything in your way. Still, with about 10 ways to control your ship and change its cockpit view, the confusion soon goes away, replace with pure adrienalin and mind-blowing action.

Such major things, like ship control, could create one major problem with surviving. These new enimies are much deadlier and there is only enough room to make a couple mistakes! That's why there is such thing as a Guide Bot, an invincible friendly robot you will find near every entrance, who will take you to the door keys, power-ups, the hostages (you get a serious bonus for rescuing those!), the reactor, and finally the exit. If you succeed, you see yourself escaping in an impressive cut-scene movie; and then off you go to the next challenge!

Pros: Great graphical detail in the game environment, including the enemy robots. You are in charge of the ultimate blasting machine... against an infinite number of enemies -- gamer's heaven!

Cons: Due to the overwhelming action, the graphics might look jerky on slower machines. Oh well, what did you expect? Also remember: no popcorn or Coke while you are playing (unless you seek an instant suicide).

--Andrew Morozov