9.4

Descent review
Brilliant game

The good:

30 large levels of flying action
Several weapons and tons of enemies

The bad:

Very tough end boss

Summary:

In this game you pilot a fighter ship from a first person perspective and have to stop a lot of enemies from taking over. You have 10 weapons to do battle with and at the end of each level is a reactor you have to blow up. Once you've done that the level will start to shake and you only have a short amount of time to escape through the exit hatch before the level blows up. At the end of about level 12 there is a large boss and then the final boss at the end of level 30. On the way you can rescue captured pilots for bonus points, they will always be contained behind a jail cell door.

You have 5 primary weapons and 5 secondary weapons. There is an ammo limit for all weapons but you will have far less of the secondary ones. While your energy limit goes up to 100 for the energy guns you have more than 100 shots and you have over 3000 rounds for the Vulcan gun. By contrast you can only have 20 Concussion and Homing missiles, 10 mines and 5 Smart and Mega Missiles. So pick your targets carefully with the secondary weapons. Your primary ones are a Laser Blaster (4 strengths and can be enhanced with a quad laser power up letting you shoot 4 beams instead of 2), a rapid fire Vulcan gun, a Spread gun which fires 3 shots at once in alternating vertical and horizontal spreads, a Plasma gun which fires powerful green balls of plasma and a Fusion gun that you can charge up and unleash a mighty blast that travels through all enemies. The energy weapons can be recharged by flying through a yellowish haze that is on every level. Your secondary weapons are Concussion Missiles which go forward, Homing Missiles, Proximity Mines which can be used to lay traps, Smart Missiles which fly straight but when they explode they release homing balls of plasma on opponents and finally Mega Missiles which home onto a target then unleash a powerful blast damaging everything in its radius. A Mega Missile is usually enough to destroy an opponent in one shot and 2 Mega Missiles should be enough to kill anyone but the 2 bosses I mentioned earlier.

The levels start off simple but soon become very large and it's easy to lose your way if you're not careful. There are colour coded doors of 3 colours on most levels and you need to find the right key to allow you to get through the door or force field. There will be many enemies trying to stop you though. The early levels have only weak enemies that your simple first weapon can deal with, you have a shield on your ship that absorbs the enemy shots and once that's gone you will be destroyed. Later on though, you'll need to rely more heavily on the more powerful weapons in your arsenal to make it through. The enemy weapons become more powerful and in particular are ones that use your own Fusion Gun weapon against you. They are so tough that they are one of the few enemies able to survive a direct Mega Missile hit.

One enemy that looks like the Fusion Gun enemy but in red and the 2 bosses have weapons that will home onto your ship. If they fire them then a warning will sound and you'll start to hear beeping from your ship. As the weapon gets closer to your ship the beeping will get faster and generally the only way to avoid these weapons is to duck behind a pillar or something else and let it take the hit.

The main thing that kept me playing this game was the fact that it was action and strategy mixed in the right amounts. In amongst all the shooting you had to keep track of where you were on the level and think about what to do next. Charging in guns blazing will work on early levels but not on later ones where you have large numbers of more powerful enemies. An enemy that you thought gave you a hard time on something like level 6 will probably become a standard enemy later on, so make use of the more powerful guns when you find them.

The end boss is one that can teleport, cloak and fire Mega Missiles. There are many power ups around that you can use such as temporary invisibility and invincibility as well as powerful ammo pickups. But to this day I don't think I've ever managed to beat the final boss without cheating. That doesn't detract from the fact that this game is a superb one. When you think of the fact that this game is several years old then the graphics and animation look pretty good. I'd recommend this game to pretty much anyone who enjoys flying and shooting, especially since it's probably quite cheap now.

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