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 Post subject: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:29 pm 
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DBB Ace
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While I play the original often and Descent 2 fairly frequently, I went ten years or so without playing through Descent 3's single-player campaign. I wasn't sure why; D3 was a fun game, how come I didn't play it?

Well, after finishing my first full playthrough of D3's campaign in many years, now I remember: the game is a shadow of its predecessors, and has a host of glaring flaws I never noticed until now, since the advantage the graphics held over its predecessors is no longer relevant.

The biggest problem with D3 are its physics. The first two games have an incredibly tight, snappy feel to the controls and physics, while D3 feels sluggish and insubstantial in comparison. The weapons are nerfed; they fire more slowly, cause less damage, and are less accurate. Two weapons in particular suffer from this: the plasma cannon and homing missiles. The Plasma was my go-to gun in the first two games, but here it's pathetic, reduced to firing tiny green orbs at a slow speed that cause little damage compared to the giant, ferocious blasts it unleashed in the previous games. Concussion and homing missiles felt powerful; in D3, it feels like you're shooting pencils at enemies. The Vauss cannon, which should be one of the better guns, causes most enemies to bounce across the room upon being hit, making it hard to focus concentrated fire on anything (unlike the Vulcan and, to a lesser extent, Gauss cannons.) The EMD, Microwave, and Fusion cannons are nearly useless.

The gameplay suffers as well. Robots are infuriating; this would be fine if it was because they were particularly clever or devious, but they're not. They're much more predictable than their predecessors and never do anything unexpected. Their AI is "good" insofar as they're good at avoiding your shots, not that your pathetic weapons are particularly good at hitting them anyway; but they have no spontaneity to speak of. Speaking of robots, D3 is filled with fantastically annoying tiny robots that aren't dangerous but hard to kill (the orbot, those kamikaze things, the purple shark robots, the manta ray bots, and so on.) There are plenty of other contrivances: I never used most of the inventory items like chaff, seeker mines, or bouncing betties. The automap is ponderous and confusing. The infinite lives dynamic is just plain stupid and removes any consequences of dying. The cutscenes looked bad when the game came out and are just plain painful to watch now. The Phoenix and Magnum are so inconsequentially different from the Pyro that I used the Pyro for pretty much every mission I could.

Outdoor environments were touted as a big deal when D3 came out, but now I find them plain frustrating. It's hard to actually hit anything with most weapons outdoors, and many outdoor areas look plain awful (don't even get me started on the outside of the "space" levels like on 14 and Mercenary level 3.) I do like how D3 has more varied mission objectives and some of the levels have good design and a nice atmosphere to them, like Piccu Station, the Mars level, and the PTMC Titan mine. But overall, many areas of the game are quite forgettable. The music in D3 is often just plain bad (the piano-song on the CED space station had me grating my teeth as I looked forward to finishing that level), although I think the Mercenary music is much, much better. In fact, I find Mercenary in general to be better than the original campaign. Some of the early level design feels wooden and uninspired but it introduces some good new robots that offer a real, rather than fake, challenge as well as fixing some problems like the wimpy Plasma cannon. But still, it doesn't make a great deal of sense in the bigger story of Descent and no attempt is made to tie everything together: what happened to the Mercenary after Suzuki's assassination? Why did he never fight MD 1032? What about the pilot from the Vertigo missions? We never know.

I haven't played D3's multiplayer in a long time either (I've always been a mainly single-player gamer) but given my gripes with the game's feel and physics I doubt I'd find it much more fun. After I finish up with Mercenary I think I'm just going to stick with the first two games from now on. I'm not really sure what the DBB community thinks of D3 over some thirteen or so years later, but for me it's clearly the weakest game in the series.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:47 am 
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I can definitely see where you're coming from with some of those points, though I can't really comment either way on a lot of the physics stuff, simply because it's been a while (probably too long) since I've picked up any of the games. (I seem to remember thinking that D2 felt far more "sluggish" than D3 ever did, though.) The small-yet-fast-and-annoying bot thing is something that also give me some grief. There are a few disagreements that stick out for me, though. I unabashedly love D3's automap, and I consider it far superior to the previous games' self-centered wireframe mess, which I still have trouble plotting routes with. I honestly prefer having infinite lives in D3, since the ability to save games largely negated the threat of running out of them in D1 and D2; having a "life counter" is something the gaming industry has generally moved away from, which is fine by me. I'm personally a fan of the Magnum, and I think both it and the Phoenix offer enough of a difference from the standard Pyro to make them worth a try.

I guess as a whole, D3's singleplayer held my interest far more than the previous games ever did. While D1 was a survival-horror-esque classic, and D2 had some cool things going on as well, both of them suffered immensely from the mind-numbing repetition of keys/reactor/exit. I've still never managed to play straight through D1, and D2 always bogs down for me about halfway through. D3 did have some mechanics issues, and its plot wasn't much to write home about, but at least it had a plot, and let you do something different in every mission. With some more refinement, I think it could have been a very special experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:35 am 
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I like D3's singleplayer. I think it feels different but not inferior. Robot fights are longer, which can sometimes make them more challenging, but I like the way you don't take an enemy down in 2 seconds; and so you have to strategize or die lots. But a lot of the robots are overpowered (though I don't think the weapons are underpowered, considering the availability of heavy ordnance.)

I like most of the soundtrack because of how... different it is. There's only one song I don't like and that one's in Mercenary and it's a "what the bleep was going through Autopilot's head when he wrote this and what the bleep was going through Outrage's collective head when they actually didn't ask him to write something else?"

I like the D3 physics because they're so chaotic. It's more chaos than any other game I've ever played.

This isn't to say I didn't like the other games better. D2 is still my favourite game in the series.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:22 pm 
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Firewheel wrote:
Descent 3 Single Player

I think you did quite well outlining a lot of things I didn't care for in the Descent 3 SP campaign. The incredibly durable and difficult to hit robots being high on my list of gripes about the single player game. In Descent and Descent 2 there was very little of the robots flying BETWEEN your laser bolts, unlike Descent 3 where practically every robot could get together and hold a convention between the fire spread from the pyro without anyone getting hit. The magnum had a decent advantage in single player over the other ships purely because of its tighter fire spread with most primary weapons, enabling you to actually hit some of these smaller enemies with two quad laser bolts instead of just one.

Single player D1 and D2 were fun rampages through the mines where you didn't have to think about the objective and could just smash your way through all obstacles till you reached the exit. Single player D3 was frustratingly tedious because of the robots even if it did spice up the objectives a bit with puzzles and defensive missions.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:10 am 
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I love the hell out of Descent 3, especially the music. Jerry Berlongieri has become one of my top favorite musicians. Even all these years later, pretty much my only real "complaint" about the game is its FMV graphics. Descent II's were so timelessly perfect and I was bummed to not see that repeated. (Additionally, Mercenary's ending with that visually anti-climatic in-game cutscene was a let down, particularly at the time.) However, each game was honestly a product of its time, so, ultimately, I don't let this tarnish my love for the third installment.

Besides, I love the classic final line: "Easy money—that's what I like!"

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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:35 am 
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A few months ago when I started playing through my favorite video games again, I went through Descent 1, 2, and Vertigo on Ace. I decided to skip 3 and Mercenaries for now because playing on a higher skill level such as Ace or Insane causes the game to not become unplayable, but to become so frustratingly long as to make someone not want to play it again,

I played D3 and Mercenaries on Ace a couple of years ago. The enemies are near impossible to hit with anything other than Mass Driver, Vauss, or (up close) Fusion and Omega. None of those weapons are suitable for long engagements with multiple foes. Like Krom said, the bots could hold a damned convention in the space between your laser bolts in D3. This made it artificially difficult compared to D1 and D2, which were both genuinely difficult.

Fighting every robot in D3 is like trying to hit the thief in D2 with normal weapon. Thats how aggravating it was for me.

I like my games to be difficult, but not too difficult. Ace is a fine skill to play on in D1 and D2 for casual enjoyment... but Ace is like self flagellation in D3. I can't even imagine what kind of a headache it would be to dogfight anything with lasers in D3 on Insane.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:01 pm 
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A little. Not much more than that.

For the reasons stated in earlier posts, D3 single-player is worth playing through once to see the sights, but it's not particularly fun and there's not much point replaying it.

In multiplayer there's more scope for people to like it, but to me it feels a lot like a demolition derby with rocket engines. Significant boost to weapon power (at least for the ones anyone actually uses), significant nerf to ability to evade them; half the control in the game is gone. So no, I don't really like it, though CTF (except Veins) makes up for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:35 am 
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DBB Ace
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Since I'm not that big on multiplayer compared to single player, I have to say that I didn't really like Descent 3 all that much either. In fact, I haven't completed it because some of the levels are just that unusual for me when it comes to puzzles. I admit it was an interesting change of pace, but also much more confusing for me than the typical search for keys from the first two games. Dealing with the robots is also a pain in the ass for many reasons, either having to do with the size, broken stats or my own poor weapons. Even on Rookie, the robots deal ridiculous amounts of damage (for example, 25 damage from a Tubbs, a Level 1 robot, ramming into you?).

I actually haven't finished the main campaign for D3 (right now I'm stuck on Level 10) or even played "Mercenary," but there's tons of visible drawbacks and inconveniences with the way it plays. I'm also having a hard time familiarizing myself with most of the weapons... I think the only ones I really like include the Vauss, Impact Mortar, Napalm Rocket, Cyclone Missile and maybe the Omega Cannon (though I haven't really gotten to use the last one all that much yet).

In fact, I think one of the only positives I can say about D3 without hesitation are that the levels are absolutely beautiful and immersive and the music is excellent. But there's the issue: the game looks and sounds way too much better than it plays. The only other thing I really like is the Magnum, although like the D3 Omega, I'm still adjusting to it so I might not have noticed more of the flaws yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you like Descent 3?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:12 am 
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The single player campaign's story is pretty cool. I can't say the same about gameplay, though. The reasons have already been covered.

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