Descent 3

Those who've never had the opportunity to float about in weightless conditions–pinging around the interior of an orbiting space shuttle, for example–may find Graphic Simulations' Descent 3 a bit disorienting. After all, like other gravity-free environments, Descent 3 lets you maneuver on all axes, and it's often difficult to determine where "down" stops and "up" begins.

The Great Outdoors  Descent 3 breaks from past versions of the action game by allowing you to take your troubles outside.

Descent is a name familiar to longtime Mac gamers. Descent I and II–3-D shooters that placed you behind the controls of a laser- and missile-equipped spacecraft sent to battle nefarious robots–were very popular titles on the Mac. At first blush, Descent 3 looks like more of the same. As in the earlier games, you buzz through robot-infested environments, blasting anything that moves and most likely succumbing to the vertigo induced by jinking your craft around in spaces where you have no real sense of direction.

Once that first blush wears off, however, you'll realize that Descent 3 has more in common with modern shooters such as Quake than with earlier iterations of Descent. In the original Descent, your object was to locate a reactor, blow it to pieces, and then quickly find your way out of a labyrinthine mine before the whole works exploded in your face. Descent 3 is more Quake-like: it asks you to carry out a series of tasks–locate a security key, for example–in order to progress through a mission. Descent 3 also differs from the original in offering outdoor environments.

Descent 3's modern system requirements include 3-D-acceleration hardware–via either some kind of 3dfx Voodoo card or an ATI Rage Pro or Rage 128–and a 233MHz or faster G3 Mac.

If your Mac meets or–even better–exceeds these requirements, the look of the game won't disappoint you. Descent has never been more attractive. And the benefits of this lush look are more than skin deep: thanks to Descent 3's enhanced graphics, you can actually make out enemy robots hovering at a distance.

Regrettably, the OpenGL version of Descent is far from stable. Even after we upgraded the original and very buggy version with the 1.3.1 updater, we had problems in OpenGL mode–blocks of graphics disappeared and the game occasionally locked up. We hope Graphic Simulations will address these problems in another update. In the meantime, if you have a Voodoo card, play the game in the more stable Glide mode.


Descent 3 is a great game marred by bugs. Those with Voodoo cards, fast Macs, and a love of frenetic action will have a blast. If your ATI-equipped Macintosh lacks a Voodoo card, either add one or wait for the next game update.

RATING:

3.0 mice
PROS: Furious action; beautiful graphics. CONS: OpenGL version is buggy. COMPANY: Graphic Simulations (972/386-7575, http://www.graphsim.com ). LIST PRICE: $45.

April 2000 page: 66

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