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Descent – Indie Developer Creating Remake Using UR3 Engine
Prepare for Descent! If you’re around 20 years old or younger, chances are that you don’t know what that catchphrase is in reference to. But if you were a gamer born in the 80s, then you know that I’m referring to the twisty, disorienting, vomit inducing, full six degrees of freedom of Descent, created by Interplay and released in 1996. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version. You are a pilot hired by PTMC, a company that uses robots to mine minerals in space. Unfortunately, the robots have gone haywire and are shooting at everything that comes into the mines. Your job is to go into the mines, rescue the human workers who are there, and then damage the reactor core until it becomes unstable. At that point you have a short countdown where you have to race to find the exit and leave the mine before it explodes, consuming you with it. That moment – when you memorized the path out to the exit, but then become so frantic with sirens and rumbling mines that you make a wrong turn and get cornered by robots, yet escape and barely make it out alive – is one of the best in video game history, in my opinion.
Descent was very popular in its time, because most first person shooters only allowed x and y movement. This game introduced z axis movement, which changed the way the levels could be designed and played. It made gamers think about the other FPS games out there and say, “why aren’t they doing that?” The single player game was brilliant, and was enhanced by the fact that the entire campaign could be played cooperatively via direct modem connection. This in itself is a feature that is left out of most modern games. In addition, all of the campaign levels could also be played as multiplayer deathmatch maps. The original Descent was so popular that it sparked a trilogy of games. Descent 2 was true to the original, however Descent 3 was a bit of a stretch and lost some of its fan base. Interplay tried to continue the series with talk of Descent 4, but the idea never came to fruition. At that time, Interplay had taken a major hit financially and had to sell off some of its licensed games, and almost went bankrupt. They barely reemerged but are a fraction of the company they once were. It looked as if there would never be another Descent game.
Fast forward to 2012, where an Unreal Engine modder going only by the name “Max” begins his project named, “Descent to UDK”. The project’s goal is to create a game based on the original Descent, using Unreal Engine 3 graphics. The game will not be an exact replica of the original, but the changes hopefully will be for the better. His website, http://preparefordescent.com/, goes into more detail about game progress. The project is still in early development from what I can tell, and contributions from other Descent fans are welcome. You can contact Max at [email protected]. If you’re curious as to how the game is coming along, here’s a video of the first level of Descent using the new engine:
The big question is, will a mod like this build up enough excitement in the gamer world that Interplay ponders making another Descent? Or will this just be a graphically enhanced walk down memory lane, to a time that once was and never will be again?