What was your first experience in the shooting genre? DOOM? Quake? Wolfenstein? Duke Nukem? There was a time when for me, all of those games were the one thing I didn’t get. Why? Because I was not a fan of First Person Shooters growing up. I didn’t “get” them. They just weren’t fun, and while I managed to play several of them for a short while, and watch friends play them, they just couldn’t get my attention.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. There was an exception. I am talking of course, of Interplay published and Parallax developed PC Shooter Descent: Destination Saturn. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? However, as the Bard so eloquently put it, what’s in a name?
You see, Descent, and the ensuing sequels are so chock full of awesome mind bending fast paced shooting fun, that they put many of the games of that time to shame. To this day, there are few games that have successfully emulated the gameplay they put forward. Think a first person shooter, with no gravity. Since you’re in a ship at all times, you can be moving in any direction. You can be fighting in the air upside down.
The enemies are also unconstrained by gravity. So in the end, you’re playing something that feels a lot like your normal FPS, but gone insane. And that’s not an exaggeration as many people found the games to be too much. When down and up are interchangeable, as are left and right, well. Let’s just say that some noobs and their lunches were soon parted.
So it’s not for the faint of heart, and depending on the difficulty you put it on, the game can be brutal. Not to mention there are some epic and sometimes maddening boss fights, and a grand variety of weapons. Each game in the series adds a new set of weapons and a lot of the classics so that by the third game you’ve gone through dozens of weapons.
Visually the games are unimpressive by today’s standards, although the third game greatly improves on the first two, and even adds external areas so you can play on the planet’s surface. There’s a small enough backstory if you’re wondering why you’re shooting all these robots, but it’s barebones evil corporation stuff. The music in the series is very enjoyable, and the soundtrack worth a download. At the time the games were also multiplayer enabled, and the multi was ultra fast paced, constantly twisting and turning and explosions and shrapnel and carnage.
If you can’t tell, I highly recommend these games. You can pick up copies on Ebay and run it in DOSBox or simply head over to gog.com and get the first two titles there. You can get the third working on Win 7 with relative ease. So what are you waiting for? Go shoot some robots with your plasma cannons while turbo boosting upside sideways!
Gaming in ReVerse will be a weekly column in which I reminisce on and recommend older games that you may have missed out on. Check back next week for another installment in the series.