Descent: Freespace The Great War
Developer: Volition Inc.
Reviewed by: Ben Ivers
The Great War??
The first thing that comes to mind when you see this game is Wing Commander: Prophecy. However, there is more than meets the eye. Freespace shows off some impressive graphics as well as great physics. It also has a multiplayer that has great potential. The only major downfall is the bugs, crashes are frequent and very annoying.
Well, the story seems simple enough. Earth and an alien race called the Vesudans are at war, when all of a sudden a new alien race is introduced, the Shivans. Of course, the Shivans are far more advanced in the area of technology and are on a galactic rampage to kill anything that moves. This unites the Terrans and the Vesudans against their unknown foe. Sound familiar? You spend most of the game fighting this evil race while the odds are constantly against you. Ok, this I will buy and seems to be a good start, a little uncreative at first, but a good start.
The gameplay seems to be absolutely wonderful, smooth and easy to learn. The spaceflight can be controlled through either the keyboard, the mouse, and/or a joystick. The action keys are simple to learn and the control over the craft can be mastered within just a few missions. The Heads Up Display or HUD shows all the vital stats needed to run your ship and is also very nice looking in one of three different colors. Missions are completed by completing objectives given during briefing just before a mission starts. There are detailed maps to show you what to do and what not to do as well as a voice/text to tell you how to do it, a la Tie Fighter. This is one of the places where Freespace prevails over WC:Prophecy, there is no wandering around a ship with unnecessary cut scenes. The few movies that Freespace has are rendered and are very pretty as are all of Interplay's movie sequences. There also is no saving games, because the campaign does it for you, very nice. There are a good variety of different ships and weapons to use to destroy your enemies. Oh yeah did I happen to mention that the game crashes a lot, a whole lot. I mean it almost makes the game not fun, especially when you are finishing a tough mission and it justs stops. This is really a big problem, not so much in the beginning of the game but in the latter half it gets worse, and I hope that Interplay fixes it soon.
This is where the game struts its stuff. The ships, aside from the fact that they are very plain and unoriginal, look amazing as well as the debris and other space "stuff". The backgrounds of space are very nice, with nebulas and star systems all over the place. The local stars look very nice except lack the lens flare a la WC:Prophecy, which I personally liked, and was replaced with a blinding effect which was not as nice but worked. The ship explosions are very cool, especially the really big ships, with their spherical shockwave effects. Also the scale of the ships is very impressive. Some of the capital ships are enormous, and I mean huge. Overall the graphics are pretty good. I would like to have seen a little more originality go into some of the ships, like the Shivan and Terran fighters. But, you can't have everything.
Here is a spot where this game blows WC away, the multiplayer. First, it has one. Second, you can play for free on Paralax Online which is built into the game making online gaming very simple. You can play any mission in the single player campaign as a multiplayer mission and then some other multiplayer only missions. It also has some co-op campaigning. The dogfights are very hard to play, especially when you or the person you play with has a slow connection. The co-op is better however there is still a lot of lag if you have a slow modem. Thats its major problem only the fast connections can play and really enjoy the fun. There are patches that have helped with this, but very little. However, the fact that the game has a multiplayer is a good start. And I am happy to say that it is fun if you can keep up[literally].
Overall I think this game is a good addition to the sci-fi simulation category. With well done graphics and a nice gameplay engine it can be enjoyed thoroughly. Even though the multiplayer is not all that spectactular, it is still fun and with the help of a patch or two it can become a long lived source for play. I would definately suggest adding this game to your library.
Our rating out of 10: 8.2
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