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The origins of Descent 3 go back to Nineteen Ninety-five, when games developer Parallax took the gaming community by storm with its groundbreaking title Descent, closely followed a year later by the obligatory sequel - Descent II. After bated breath Outrage (scion of the mighty Parallax) has delivered the next chapter in the saga, and it's better than ever before!
The storyline in Descent 3 begins where the end of Descent II left off. The warp core has malfunctioned in your Pyro-GX fighter, causing you to be put in emergency stasis while your now derelict craft drifts through the vastness of space, getting ever closer to the blast-furnace heat of a nearby sun. Thankfully you're spared a nasty roasting by the crew of a rebel PTMC mining ship who need your help in exposing the illegal, not to mention highly dangerous, experiments of the PTMC Corporation. Which, if you remember, were responsible for all the mayhem in the first two games.
Outrage has sensibly opted to keep the trademark gameplay of the original two titles - scooting around in small, dark, twisty tunnels in a ship that can move up, down, left, right, forwards, backwards, bank left/right, while blasting some rather vicious, virus infected flying robots - while giving the series some Nineteen Ninety-nine style gloss:
The new proprietary Fusion 3D engine adds something special to the game graphics, providing some inviting mirrored surfaces, bilinear filtered textures, coloured lighting, and for the first time in the Descent series, the chance to leave the claustrophobia of the dark, snaking tunnels behind and venture outside. EAX support adds cream to some superb sound effects - rockets fire with a deep whoosh, explosions burst with a meaty rumble and lasers positively sizzle through the air. And the strangely mesmerising soundtrack of fused techno/trance beats adds a beautiful counterpoint to the often frenzied gameplay.
Each of the fifteen single-player levels have a unique look and feel to them, and are so large and sprawling that each has to be broken down into separate subtasks. These tasks range from the usual finding of keys and opening of doors to searching for info on missing scientists, taking out perimeter defences, infiltrating prisons and rushing through tunnels before being splatted by oncoming trains. But whatever the task, you can be assured of some fiendishly clever robots lurking round corners and waiting behind doors, just ready to pounce! Each robot class though, has its own unique AI forcing you to adapt your tactics accordingly; careful thought rather than blind charging about is often required.
The levels themselves are so big that navigating around them can be a bit of a nightmare, and with all the dark snaking tunnels and small easily missed entrances it's so very easy to get completely turned around. So to save any unnecessary flying about your ship is equipped with a guidebot, who like a faithful hound, will lead you to your next goal, dropping signal flares to guide the way. And if you get left behind it will even make its way back, giving an encouraging beep as it leads the way again.
Multiplay gamers have good reason to be ecstatic too. Outrage has provided some of the most complete, out of the box, multiplayer action around. Nine different modes over fifteen separate levels have been added to the single player game, including such memorable antics as Monsterball, Deathmatch, Co-operative and Capture the flag.
Outrage has proved that sequels don't have to be rushed, boring clones of the original. But with a little thought, imagination and some damned hard work, can actually remain faithful to the scope and vision of the original while at the same time pushing the game forward into new unexplored territory.