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My Review Of Descent: FreeSpace - The Great War (FS1)


Hella Constipated
View the FreeSpace 1 Intro Movie (~40MB, Interplay MVE Executable Format, well worth the short wait).

UPDATE: 4/30/05 - I cannot encode the video in any other format. Interplay is the only one with an encoder, and EU's get an EXE converter FROM A THIRD PARTY, that's it. If you don't find me "trustworthy," I'll upload the MVE and the converter seperately.

You've heard me go on obessive compulsive rants about this game, now I'm going to review it for you guys.

Descent: FreeSpace is possibly one of the most under-recognized games in history - multiple innovations such as flexible real-life physics and Voice Over IP support popped up in this game before anywhere else.

But that's not what I'm here to rave about.

This game itself is a perception altering story about the human race, politics, imperialism, and the beauty of life. After playing the game, I lacked much appreciation for human society. In fact, every society around I had contempt for. I didn't even think that outer-space was peaceful. It's true form is a huge warzone, and it's only been made more dangerous for us by retarded scientists streaming I Love Lucy and Glenn Gould playing Bach into space. Thankfully, they haven't hit any planets yet.

However, these changes in viewpoints are for the best, because after playing the game, you will wonder how you lived in a state of sheer ignorance for your whole life.

In the game, you are a Terran (Human) pilot who starts off onboard the GTD Galatea, a fine Terran destroyer that is a key to us winning the war against the Vasudans. The whole outline of reasons for the T-V war have never been released by Volition, Inc., however.

During a routine escort of a Terran science vessel, your squad encounters a race of unknown aliens. Their ships have an energy shielding system that makes them almost invincible. Their cannons and missles are also superior to everything that the Terrans or Vasudans have ever developed. Much worse, their electronics systems look munged on our sensors, and we cannot target them. Taking one out during the initial encounter is a badge of honor - I've played the game since 2000 and have only done it twice.

Terran Command dubs the race the Shivans, then hastily signs a cease-fire pact with the Vasudans after stealing data about Shivan ships from a cargo depot they set up. You were assigned to that very task...

However, a radical Vasudan group known as the Hammer of Light (HOL), attempts to aid the Shivans in their war. At this point, we still have no clue as to what is going on...

Later in the game, the Shivan Super Destroyer Lucifer...well, that's just a fucking spoiler.

The game's HUD is absolutely impeccable - nothing short of perfect.

You have multiple displays for enemy shield, hull integrity, as well as distance from your target, and a million other fucking things you end up taking for granted and your brain processes subconsciously after a while.

It's ergonomic perfection - not even $800 office chairs are as comfortable to use.

The ships in the game are generally well rounded - The Terran GTF Valkyrie interceptor being my personal favorite. It's fast, responsive, and has great offensive capability. Actually, it's rather unbalanced - but it's hard to fly for newbies, because it's built for speed, not durability. I'm good enough with it where I can make it last longer than any other ship, but that's just a fucking ace talking, so ignore me ifyou will.

(Figure 1.1 - Maximus Kickassus. The Terran Valkyrie is a mighty powerful ship, and can rape any other ship ever created in a game. An X-Wing is like a bi-plane compared to this fucker.)

Now, the cruisers and capital ships are absolutely fucking marvelous - The Vasudan Typhon is as eye-orgasm inducing as they come. The Terran orion screams pride, and the Shivan Lucifer just says "I'm absolultely fucking evil."

(Sorry, no Lucifer picture as of now, gimme a day.)

The weapons are also orgasm inducing - everything from the wimpy ML-16 Lasers to the monstrous Banshee cannon just sound, look, and work fucking great. The missles aren't that good compared to FS2, but they're decent. The Interceptor missles are my personal favorite, and the Hornet swarm missles are also very nice. Strategic cannons such as the Disruptor and D-Advanced can be used to damage craft subsystems such as weapons, engines, or sensors, to name a few, without damaging the ship itself.

The musical socre and sound effects are perfect. Just flawless. The orchestral/techno soundtrack is beautiful, and every sound effect from a wormhole opening to your afterburners kicking out of fuel are a treat for the ears. It all mixes wonderfully.

Another great feature is the damage/energy management systems. Rear shields taken a nasty hit? Press "Q" to equalize them, or put all your energy into your shields, and leave your engines and cannons out to dry. If you can't reach that fucking target quickly enough, put all enegry to engines, and your ship will move faster, and recharge it's burners quicker.

The escort list is also a great feature - now I can see what fucking ships I gotta guard, and if they are being raped.

Now, dogfighting just fucking kicks ass, end of story. It's intense, the ability to have your ship match your target's speed for you, the missle lock-on system, and the "lead indicator" all add up to a joyous experience you'll want to keep reliving for years to come.

Bombing capital ships is also a fucking riot - there's nothing like piloting a huge ass fucking bomber with shields and hull so strong that God himself could not puncture them, and adding an automated anti-fighter turret to the mix really spruces things up. Oh yeah, and you'll become an addict after you see your first big ship blow up! It's absolutely beautiful.

Missions are vast, and varied - everything from basic escorting, to defending, weapons and ship prototype testing, emergency deployment, and everybody's favorite:

Undercover ops. There is NOTHING like flying a stolen, half-broken Shivan fighter in their own territory THAT YOU CAPTURED, with the impending risk of being discovered, and having almost everything vital on the ship break down easily. Add to the fact it's thirty versus one, and you'll piss yourself.

There are abolsutely no "BLOW EVERYTHING UP LOL!" missions in the game without a solid purpose - if there's a raid, it plays into the next mission somehow. This differentiates FreeSpace from other flight sims.

Also, the fact that almost every mission contains a spoiler is really a testament to how deep this game really is.

The game is a fucking opera. I have loved, and always will love every minute of it I play. It's not perfect, it's just damn fucking close.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Pros: The list goes on and on...

Cons: It could have been a little longer. But holy shit, it's still more than good enough.

Developer: Volition, Inc. (Makers of Red Faction 1)

Publisher: Interplay

Year Released: 1998.

List price: $10 off eBay, now public domain. Downloading a copy off BitTorrent is no longer illegal, thanks to Interplay and Volition negotiating.


Trance Addict
hey, same people that made red faction.

maybe i'll check it out; it didnt really impress me until i read that tidbit at the bottom. i've been reading various reviews and actually alot of people DID like it, it just never went big time (ie: commercials, main display at an E3 Gaming convention, etc)

edit: uhhh ya, fuck you. im not opening an exe randomly. convert it to video format or its a no-go.