Sunday, 13 July 2014

Descent 3: Game design review

Descent 3 is the 3rd in the indoor FPS space shooting series where you control a space ship and fly around tunnels and shoot enemies. The third in the series was released back in 1999 and was recently re-released on with the base game and the Mercenaries expansion pack. Here are my thoughts on it.

What I liked
Gameplay- The game play remains solid and fast paced.

Level design- The tunnel level designs are solid and feel interesting.

Guide Bot- The navigator does a great job of leading you around and adds personality to the game. It can also perform actions like putting out fires and even act as a virtual camera. More games need a guide bot like this!

Variety of weapons- Lots of weapons and missile variety

What I disliked:
Imbalanced weapons- Like most games of its time weapons are somewhat imbalanced. There are some weapons which are really good while others are at best situational like the mines or napalm.

Controls- Controls can be tricky with a standard mouse and keyboard. The mouse is simply too fast causing me to overshoot the target. I found using the keyboard alone made the game easier to play at some points because the turning and aiming speed was more manageable.

Guide Bot could be even more helpful- As guide bot, it can guide you around, put out fires and even damage the enemy if it picks up a powerup. I kind of wish the guide bot had the ability to attack regularly or assist in some more ways rather than rely on power ups. For example, maybe the Guide bot could merge with your ship to temporarily power it up, act as a prism for energy weapons so you can fire around the corridor or generate a cloaking field. I feel there's a lot of untapped potential here.

Outoor level designa and gameplay- The game is pretty fun while indoors in tunnels however once you get out doors, the speed of your ship feels way too slow. Obviously you can't go charging around in the tunnels so your craft is in actual fact slow but highly manueverable. Outdoors however, you have much more space to manuever and need to limit the craft is less of issue. Unfortunately there is no 'flight mode' so you'll find yourself seemingly crawling across the surface to try and get to the next tunnel entrance.  The aiming is also unchanged meaning that outdoor battles become very difficult as it's almost impossible to hit from a distance from your guns but somehow the enemy can.

Difficult levels- Last few levels are a bit to tricky and frustrating to navigate more so than the previous levels.

Desecent 3 in my opinion is still fun and despite its age and shortcomings. In fact I'm surprised no new games were produced like this until the recent Miner Wars 2081.

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