This game was the first 3D shooter in which you actually played in a true 3D environment. You can freely move in all three dimensions and rotate around any axis. You can easily mix up floor with ceiling and it doesn't even matter. It's like Doom and Terminal Velocity in one.
The story is simple. The largest mining company, PTMC, called on you, the best bad-and-mean pilot, to eliminate a rising threat. Apparently, they have lost control of their mining stations on Pluto to an unknown enemy force, which, naturally, consists of robots and flying craft. They also noticed intelligence in these ships, so they could be a threat to Earth itself. Your mission is to go into the mines, rescue any hostages you can and destroy the mine and everything else you encounter. Deep down on each level you can find a fusion reactor that you need to destroy in order to demolish the mine itself.
The game's concept is similar to that of Doom. There are 30 levels, and on each one you'll have to destroy a reactor before escaping through the EXIT. It is wise to locate the EXIT before dealing with the reactor since you will have limited time for your escape. With TAB you can access the map, which is indispensable. Since this is real 3D action, so is the map, and the programmers deserve praise for it.
You are flying a PYRO-GX ship, armed with AV42 Avenger concussion missiles and AG435 Industrial argon-cyanide lasers (sounds tough). The selection of weapons is very good, since there are various ones scattered throughout the mines (The company managed to hide them inside the mine?) and if you pick up a laser that you already have, it will upgrade its level, which will make it recharge faster and deliver more powerful blasts. Also, you always have two different weapons selected at the same time, primary and secondary (read: lasers or cannons and rockets or missiles). You change them with the number keys 1-5 and 6-0. Lasers travel towards their target (faster then rockets, naturally) and cannons hit almost immediately.
The AI varies with enemy types. Some will just fly towards you, and some will shoot from a distance, while evading your shots. Every single enemy aims perfectly, so you need to move fast to avoid their fire. Before each mission there is a briefing in which you will be shown info about new enemy craft that you will encounter.
For its time, Descent's graphics were above standard (SVGA was something brand new), although you can change the detail level to match your comp's speed. The quality of sound effects is good (for that time very good) and, like in every 3D shooter, without sound you are "blind". The only difficult thing at the start will be learning how to fly, because it is quite complicated to get used to. However, once you get into it, this can easily become one of the best 3D games you ever played.
Descent should work fine even in newer versions of Windows, and in DOSBox can be little slow, so you'll need a little testing and tweaking. Once you're done with preparations, turn up your speakers, warm up your lasers and prepare for Descent!
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