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Descent to Untermountain - Review - 01/02/98

 

Just recently I picked up a copy of Descent to Undermountain [DTU]. This game looked very promising from the beginning. It was being built off of the Descent engine, so if you were like me, it caught your attention. Now keep in mind this game uses the Descent engine, NOT the Descent 2 engine. There are quite a few differences between the two.

 

System Requirements and Setup

If you can make it through the problematic setup (DTU didn't like my sound card for some odd reason), you'll find yourself watching an incredibly choppy Interplay intro. The game's CPU and memory requirements are rather high for today's standards. A Pentium 90 with 32 megs of RAM is the minimum configuration supported; however, Interplay suggests a Pentium 150 for good game play. I played this on my P2 266 and the game still had framerate problems. After the choppy intro you see a cut scene, which I might add is equally as choppy. Finally, you make it to the main menu where you can select a new game and start the character creation process.

 

Character Generation

Those of you who have played AD&D before will find the character generation in DTU somewhat lacking. Unlimited re-rolls of stats, and a bonus of 5 points at the end, allows anyone to walk into the dungeon with a beefy character. There are only four character classes to choose from: fighter, thief, priest, and mage. However, you can be multi-classed, so you can create a fighter/mage for example. Also, instead of picking a model or whatever for your character (which no one will ever get to see since there's no multiplayer option; see below), you pick a "profile" or picture of what you believe your character should look like. Once this is done, give yourself a name and you are ready to go.

 

Gameplay

Once in the game you must go see Blackstaff. He is the resident Mage and gives you "Quests" to carry out. Once you have accomplished the task you come back to Blackstaff to collect your reward and get the next Quest.

I found that the Quests were for the most part, boring and easy, but somewhat time-consuming. There is also the problem of knowing when you have completed the task at hand. The game does not inform you when a task has been completed. Rather, you must leave the dungeon and go talk to Blackstaff once again. This is also a tiresome and boring process. I have no idea how many quests there are because the game locked up on me while I was playing.

That's right, crashing is a big problem with the game. The game will just instantly lock up the system rock-solid with no apparent reason. Jumping on a box or looking at a wall can lock the game. There is already a patch available on Dragonplay's DTU page. If you own DTU and don't have the patch, I would suggest getting it. It fixes bugs here and there, adds in more sound card support, and fixes some of the monster AI.

The monster AI? Does such a thing exist? I found that you have to stand completely still to get hit by any monster that wasn't carrying a missile weapon. Even then, most monsters can't land a hit. Also, the monsters are incredibly easy to take down. Monsters run into walls and run away at times. The AI could be leaps and bounds better.

 

Visual Aspects

Okay, enough about gameplay. Let me tell you about the visual aspect of the game and what the game was supposed to be, or could have been. You are restricted to a status-bar screen or full-screen mode. Full-screen herked and jerked like nothing I've ever seen before. I think software OpenGL Quake 2 runs about as smoothly as DTU did in full-screen. The only thing that could save this poor game would be a 3dfx port. At least that would make it look better. It is almost a requirement that any 3D game that comes out today include 3dfx support. Perhaps another patch is in order.

 

Multiplayer Support

During development of this game it boasted many great things, one of which was multiplayer support. DTU was going to allow you and a party of three other people to venture through the dungeons and smite evil minions. However, much to my dismay, multiplayer support is not there. And if it is, it is WELL hidden.

 

Final Remarks

As you can probably tell my thoughts on this game are not good. It was a big letdown and was delayed for quite some time. Now as I sit here with the finished product I wonder why it was delayed so long. My advice is to take your $60 and spend it on something else. Put it back for a 3dfx card if you don't already have one. Or go pick up the new Frogger or something. But avoid Descent to Undermountain. It's not worth the time or money.

 

fathom

taken from Descentia

 

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