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Game Over Online ~ Descent FreeSpace

GameOver Game Reviews - Descent FreeSpace (c) Interplay, Reviewed by - TraderX / Da Hitman /

Game & Publisher Descent FreeSpace (c) Interplay
System Requirements P133 w/ 3D Card, P166 w/o 3D Card, 32mb RAM, 45mb HD Space
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Sunday, June 7th, 1998 at 10:12 PM


Divider Left By: TraderX Divider Right

Now before I start the review, I have to give you some brief insight about the game. My initial impression was picky, but after getting well into the campaign of Freespace, I became very impressed. This game seems to have the perfect interface, astounding features, and graphics that'll blow you away! Most Space Combat Simulators always seem to have a few features missing, like in Wing Commander Prophecy, it didn't even have multiplayer! This alone defeated the entire replay value of the game, fortunately the people behind Descent Freespace seemed to have got into the minds of gamers and discover what we really are looking for in a simulation. What does this all add up to? I great experience I would say, but more importantly, a game that was designed for gamers. Luckily the designers had us (gamers) in mind when creating this game, and it sure paid off in the end. So I suggest you take control of your fighter, and eliminate those Vasudan aliens right now!

Gameplay is a very important factor in any type of simulation, whether it be racing, flight or space. Even if a sim has the most fancy graphics ever seen, or amazing sound quality, gameplay always seems to come out on top in the list of priority. Freespace combines all kinds of features, which most of you do not discover until you are well into the game, to create an rich, enjoyable campaign. The physics of the sim really caught my attention, every little detail was given equal attention when designing the physics. You can swoops really close to enemy/friendly ships, get warnings, and collide with exact precision. For instance, hitting the left side of your ship against a capital ship causes damage to the left side of the ship, and even externally this is visible by streaks of sparks coming out. These "sparks" are quite useful in giving you quick evaluation of the status of not only your wingmen, but also your own ship.

You get status on every single aspect of your ship, and enemy fighters in the HUD (Head up Display). This is probably the most important aspect of your flight, giving you detailed reports on fighter stats, ratios, ammunition supplies, radars, and distances. You will have much difficulty establishing which numbers are which, or "what that icon means" etc.. unless you complete the training missions. The basic training should be enough for most simulation enthusiasts to work upon in completing the dense campaign. If you are new to sims, go through the entire training to get the full experience.

The artificial intelligence definitely needs no work I thought, because there are FIVE levels of difficulty (as opposed to three in most games). Even jumping from Very Easy to Easy gives you a sense of increased intelligence, because the enemies attack in perfect squadrons, and break off when they require assistance or are assisting. Not only do the enemies respond well to actions, but your wingmen are quite smart as well. If you press the C key, you get a full list of commands you can guide your wingmen (or specific wingman) to do. They acknowledge commands verbally, and are quite responsive. Equally responsive are the controls of the game, especially if you use the mouse. Although a joystick provides full simulator experience, the mouse is probably more effective. Simply because it is a lot more precise, and you can easily track ships with it. I remember in WCP and XVT, following/tracking the enemies with the joystick was extremely difficult because it wasn't very precise. With the mouse sensitivity set to full, you barely need any effort to chase a craft down. Also sims are famous for the amount of keys you have to remember on the keyboard, but fear not, because in the root directory there is a Reference Card you can print off for key references. So overall, the control and gameplay are both top notch.

An aspect where the game scores big again, is Multiplayer. I played 2 or 3 missions with my friend, and it was awesome! The pre-setup of the game is perfect, you can choose to play co-op, team, or just plain death match, and assist (or kill) each other in about 20 different missions! We played co-op, and totally destroyed a Vasudan Hellfire (BIG capital ship), and there was very little lag. Even with 4 wingmen, the game still ran extremely smooth. Also, if you are first trying multiplayer, you can choose to register with PXO (Parralax Online, similar to Blizzard's Battle.net) if you don't want to, be sure to disable it from the options (press F2). Never the less, it supports up to 12 players over TCP/IP or IPX. In addition, it has full microphone support, so you can chat in voice during the briefings and in-game! I'm not sure if I would recommend this to a modem user, but over cable modems there was very good voice transmission. Also, if you play on PXO you rankings are kept on their server (similar to battle.net again) so go kick some ass! It's free!

I was just as impressed with the sound as I was the gameplay. It definitely provides a much more atmospheric feeling to the game. The sounds range from the speech in the briefings in game, to the massive explosive sounds and awesome weapon effects. Even the music suits the game perfectly, and is event-driven by the level of action taking place. So for people with nice sound setups, try out Freespace because it will rock with lots of bass! There isn't much more to say about the sound effects in the game, except that they are all configurable in the options menu. So if the speech is too loud, or the music to soft, you can always adjust it.

The graphics rule, enough said. Well not enough to convince you I bet, even if you have seen the screenshots, they don't compare to the game in full motion. Before I start raving, I must warn you this is all based upon what I have seen on a Voodoo2 3d accelerator. If you are a gamer without a 3D accelerator card, do not expect very good graphics (in just about any 3d game, and if the software mode looks good, don't expect it to run smooth, hehe)... anyways, the graphics are amazing. Fully loaded ship models, and colored lighting effects, smooth transitions and animations, jaw-dropping explosions and awesome weapon FX all combine to create a very rich environment. The one thing I noticed (which was a similar trend in WCP and I-War) is the variation in the space textures, featuring different colored galaxies and stars. This isn't very important, but I remember it giving me a good impression when I first played I-War. This impression was again an impact on me, because it simply provided more realism to the graphics. The other thing that looks good are the weapons, specifically the projectiles. Like the missiles, some of the have long streaks and slowing dissipate into space, while others have fast jagged streaks that even break up when something passes through them! Some other interesting things you will find are the sparks and electric lines produced by damaged ships, the shield hit effect, and also the enemy arsenal. So if you have 3DFX or a fast D3D accelerator card, you will get a real treat in the graphics department from Freespace. Just be sure to increase some of the hardware and other graphical options in the menu for the full detail! With a Voodoo2, I noticed very minimal slow down with everything on full detail.

All in all, I definitely recommend getting this game for any simulation enthusiast. If you are new the genre, or don't like it, you still may be surprised by what Descent Freespace has to offer. It seems to be a near-perfect blend of strategic maneuvering and action packed combat. Don't hesitate to replay missions if you don't win on your first try, even if you do not complete all your objectives, your performance is often based on what you DID accomplish rather than what you didn't. Which is nice for a change of pace, and provides a more dynamic campaign.

 

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Rating
89%
 

 

 
 

 

 

Divider Left By: Da Hitman Divider Right

From the creators of the very addictive Descent and Descent II comes a game from a different genre, Descent: Freespace. Although I did not download the demo when it was released, I decided to give the game a shot considering the hype surrounding it and the references to it being the "Wing Commander Prophecy killer."

Graphics: (19 / 20)

The graphics in this game are excellent and stunning. The game takes full advantage of a 3DFX Voodoo card and uses numerous amounts of hardware functions and effects. Even during the biggest ships hovering in front of the cockpit the frame rate does not drop at all. This is all considering each object is beautifully rendered and modeled. Unlike Wing Commander Prophecy, where the ships where all so unnecessarily lit with bright colors, the objects and ships in Freespace are realistically detailed with thrusts, lights and other minor details.

Sound: (13 / 15)

If you have a sub woofer the game sounds excellent. When you hit it into high gear with a lot of thrust you can hear the engine roaring and as soon as you kill the thrust the engine sounds slowly fade away. The Wingmen speech that exist, with picture profiles, are excellent, in that, they sound distorted, hence coming from a radio, and give good effect to the game. Similar to Wing Commander Prophecy the story line does not take place only aboard ship but also during the fighting sequences. Although I would have liked to see an option for in flight radio music, those damn flights in space make it so boring to stare at the black skies, it is not necessary.

Gameplay: (24 / 25)

This is definitely a title that I will not be deleting for some time to come. I thoroughly enjoyed playing this title, hence my delay for reviewing it, and I am sure any Wing Commander Prophecy fan was like it as well. The controls are VERY smooth with support for advanced options such as Force Feedback, although I do find these games easier to play with the Mouse and Keyboard. The game starts the player off with a few training missions, which can be skipped, although it is a good idea to play through them to learn the different command strokes. As with any other flight simulation all the controls are re-configurable. Moreover, the game goes one step further to allows players to not only have the full 100 Key layout, but then each key can be configured for a different function while holding down the shift key. This gives a total of 200 functions, although not necessary, but really useful.

Fun Factor: (18 / 20)

Comparing this to the Wing Commander series storyline wise, Wing Commander Prophecy would have to take the cake. Although this game does a great job of providing a realistic story of elements such as invasion, recon, patrolling, friendship and action, no one has yet to match Prophecy's storyline and characters. This game is very fun to play especially because the action is heavier than Prophecy and the enemy ships move very realistically. The force effects are good when the player hits the afterburner and this shakes the joystick to show its massive effect on the ship. A player will not be lost in the interface as it explained well throughout the tutorial.

Multiplayer: (5 / 5)

As with most titles in this genre this game excels at multiplayer. Players can choose from different ships, weapons, environments and missions. The engine is made to suit about 4 to 5 players on average connections with little or no lag at all.

Packaging: (5 / 5).

Overall Impressions: (9 / 10)

Overall this game is very outstanding. It is well worth the pick up and Wing Commander Prophecy fans should pick this one up as well. Just a note, throughout my review I am NOT bashing Wing Commander Prophecy. I'm just comparing the two since Prophecy is its closest competition.

 

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Rating
89%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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