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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 8:23 am 


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i managed to miss the map for the hospital in SH1, I saw it on the reception wall but after the cutscene with the doctor i forgot to pick it up and when i thought about it, it was too late :O

i actually enjoyed blindly wandering around there though, using the age old "right wall strats".

i'm currently just out of the sewers and about to go to the lake. i'm starting to think i might have missed the rifle as i've been picking up rifle ammo for a little while now but haven't come across the weapon itself. oh well.

i really like the poetic nature of the puzzle clues in this game, particularly the ones in the school. i seem to remember seeing/hearing a lot of people complaining that the piano puzzle was very cryptic and hard to work out but i thought the clue was really great and told you everything you needed to know.

-edit- just finished... i got the bad ending :( (although i guess that is pretty normal for a first(ish) playthrough?)


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 4:17 pm 


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Nice, that was fast! I love how slowly demented the game grows. By the end it gets very disorienting and you (at least me) feel very much out of your element. The sewer segment where the banging metal gets more frantic, loud, and fast as you try to escape is a highlight for me. I never thought I'd be so impressed with a sewer level, ha.

I missed the map of the hospital my first time too! It's easy to overlook. You sorta have to think 'logically', like "Where would a map to an area be?"

The rifle is in the room you fought the worm boss in. I was surprised to learn that my brother completely missed it too. I could have sworn the camera pans to the rifles sitting in a pile before the boss fight starts. Don't feel too bad, as he got the bad ending on his first try.

I think it's worth it to go for the good ending. The requirements are definitely -and purposefully- obtuse. You need to thoroughly explore the final area of town (the street leading to the lighthouse is the point of no return) and complete the sidequests you find there. Also, there are crucial items in the hospital you need to pick up on your first visit with a plastic bottle. Unfortunately, it's not clear you can pick up the stuff with the bottle. You also have to use it in a situation you have no indication you need to while interacting with another character. However, that should be enough of a clue for you to get by.

I think Team Silent expected people to play through the game a few times in order to unlock the different endings. The first you'd get is naturally the bad ending, since you had no indication of what you are doing. Afterwards, a more thorough player discovers more of the story through sidequests hidden in out-of-the-way locations. Completing these actions gives vague clues as to what previously unremarkable items and details really mean, and THEN, once you pieced everything together, you can get the good ending. Obtuse? Yes. But the game is short enough that you can cruise through it in a weekend if you know what you are doing.

On the plus side, you should now be able to find a gas-can by the gas-station by the church, which allows you to get the chainsaw or powerdrill (get the chainsaw!). It makes mincemeat of humanoid enemies (except for the frog-men). You can also now adjust the amount of ammo you get from pick-ups, meaning you can cruise through the game with dozens of pistol/shotgun ammo if you want (the rates are switchable on the fly!). Also, your "reward" for the bad ending is the best credits song in the game!

When I first beat SH1, I think I ran through it two more times in a row. That's how much it hooked me. It was a spectacular experience and set the bar high for the other games to live up to.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 10:02 pm 


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This time I think I'm gonna continue playing the GBA Fire Emblem. Very welcome Suikoden/Shining Force vibe to it, but have I grown tired of the "ageism" on display here. Not buying the image of world where everybody your age is a natural ally of yours, whereas all that grown-ups ever seem to do is harassing the former. Not buying the usual "Japan" explanation either as it's not so asinine in said Shining Force or Suikoden storytelling.
I admit it's the art style thing, though, not the writing. Can't help but feel a tad disappointed by the artwork, particularly so after Advance Wars...
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 10:59 pm 


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I reinstalled Victor Vran last week and I'm finding myself fully addicted this second time around. Diablo 2 put me to sleep but this game has me fully committed to the loot treadmill. Probably the only game that actually deserves the name "Action-RPG."

(Nox doesn't count. Nox was a full-blown action game with a couple RPG-like details slapped on.)
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 9:55 pm 


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Cave Story + on Switch. Not bad, I'm getting along with it far more than I did Shovel Knight anyway. The respawning baddies can be annoying when the game sends you from one end of the map to the other but that's the only real criticism I have at the moment. May check out Kero Blaster when it goes on sale.
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Last edited by Marc on Thu May 10, 2018 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 10:02 pm 


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Mischief Maker wrote:
I reinstalled Victor Vran last week and I'm finding myself fully addicted this second time around.

Oh come now, no need to kid ourselves, you're just irrationally anti-pumpkin and like wearing such a cool hat. Isn't that right, "Mickey"? ;)
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 11:19 pm 


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Yakuza 6 update

I'm in chapter two now. I very much liked that I could knock out some minigame content completely in chapter 1. I finished Club Shine, got 100 on all Karaoke songs etc... New things in chapter two... The cats ahhhhh the cats. Some have been a real pain to find. I still haven't found the one that is supposed to be near Serena. Gotta grow that cat horde though. Then there is the Troublr app for your phone. Seems to just be more random side quests but instead of running into them you get contacted via your phone. More basic than full fleshed side quests, and there seems to be a lot of them.

So far I haven't found the way to start the baseball team, do clan creator or spearfish yet. I'm assuming all that comes up later. I believe I read somewhere that spearfishing and the clan thing are important for later on in the game for getting larger amounts of money quicker.

Overall I like most of the changes, seamlessly going into building is nice. However when you do actually have to load something, it's usually pretty brutal. The experience is pretty well balanced. Eating food seems much more important than previous games, as the experience you get is pretty good, and it's fast.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 12:11 am 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
Mischief Maker wrote:
I reinstalled Victor Vran last week and I'm finding myself fully addicted this second time around.

Oh come now, no need to kid ourselves, you're just irrationally anti-pumpkin and like wearing such a cool hat. Isn't that right, "Mickey"? ;)


Spoiler: show
Honestly I'm kind of bummed I had to kill him in the end. He was so much more likable than Lloyd Kaufman.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 3:17 pm 


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Steamflogger Boss wrote:
Yakuza 6 update

I'm in chapter two now. I very much liked that I could knock out some minigame content completely in chapter 1. I finished Club Shine, got 100 on all Karaoke songs etc... New things in chapter two... The cats ahhhhh the cats. Some have been a real pain to find. I still haven't found the one that is supposed to be near Serena. Gotta grow that cat horde though. Then there is the Troublr app for your phone. Seems to just be more random side quests but instead of running into them you get contacted via your phone. More basic than full fleshed side quests, and there seems to be a lot of them.

So far I haven't found the way to start the baseball team, do clan creator or spearfish yet. I'm assuming all that comes up later. I believe I read somewhere that spearfishing and the clan thing are important for later on in the game for getting larger amounts of money quicker.

Overall I like most of the changes, seamlessly going into building is nice. However when you do actually have to load something, it's usually pretty brutal. The experience is pretty well balanced. Eating food seems much more important than previous games, as the experience you get is pretty good, and it's fast.


Funnily enough, I've found myself ignoring them in Kiwami, probably because I don't want fatigue to set in before I get to 6. Although I did go looking for Pocket Racing as I missed it in 0, and can't find anything to kickstart it, despite it being marked on the map.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 3:32 pm 


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I used this guide fwiw and it worked: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps4/18117 ... et-circuit

As for starting it the Pocket Racer Fighter should talk to you when you approach the building. Then you take his quest and it enables starting the races.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 10:43 pm 


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I went full suda last week, I'm about to finish The Silver Case and started replaying Killer 7 yesterday.
His games are the coolest shit ever, thank god my memory is shit and I'm enjoying K7 as if I were playing it for the first time.

Planning to play Flower, Sun and Rain as soon as I clear TSC, them jump to The 25th Ward (and maybe finish that Blood+ game once and for all).
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 10:57 pm 


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Something I forgot to mention earlier about Yakuza 6.

In challenge mode in the batting cages the pitch type and location is always exactly the same until expert level 3. At that point the pitch type is always set but the location varies. Still very doable because the pitches always break exactly the same way from their starting point.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 6:20 am 


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Been tackling Final Bubble Bobble (SMS) emulated on the Wii.
Little seems to be wrong with Tube Slider... except how obscenely easy it begins. The A.I.'s being a pushover.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 10:26 am 


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Hmm, the boss fights in Yakuza 0 were by far the lease memorable part of the game for me, even so I don't remember them being quite as drawn out or cheesy as in Kiwami. That first fight with the dude at the funeral was downright painful, and I've just had one with Majima in the Batting Centre that was downright cheesy. Particularly in how if you miss a combo you're screwed and left facing in the wrong direction - which is fine - but Majima was doing the same tracking that Dark Souls II did, and seemed to be able to change directions on a whim.

Cave Story has gone from being something that seemed kind of OK, to something I can't believe I've let pass me by for so long. Just finished the Sand Kingdom and loving every minute.

Close to 3-starring every 200cc cup on MK8 Deluxe, but god almighty the AI can be annoying.

Can't remember if I already mentioned Inside. As a platform/puzzle experience/game it wouldn't normally be my bag, but there's enough hold the interest on the game side, and the atmosphere is second to none. Missed most of the hidden orbs during the first run, and I enjoyed it enough that I've gone for a second run to find them. Would certainly recommend folk try it out on a sale at least.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 10:47 am 


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KAI wrote:
I went full suda last week, I'm about to finish The Silver Case and started replaying Killer 7 yesterday.
His games are the coolest shit ever, thank god my memory is shit and I'm enjoying K7 as if I were playing it for the first time.

Planning to play Flower, Sun and Rain as soon as I clear TSC, them jump to The 25th Ward (and maybe finish that Blood+ game once and for all).


that reminds me, i need to finish my playthrough of killer7 i started a little while ago. i was enjoying the game a lot to begin with but i felt like it started to drag as the gameplay is so repetetive and the story doesn't really live up to its initial promise imo.

the presentation is great and there are a lot of cool moments though. the boss fight against against curtis blackburn is like something out of el topo.

i'm up to the chapter in the dominican republic iirc.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 12:40 pm 


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Marc wrote:
Hmm, the boss fights in Yakuza 0 were by far the lease memorable part of the game for me, even so I don't remember them being quite as drawn out or cheesy as in Kiwami. That first fight with the dude at the funeral was downright painful, and I've just had one with Majima in the Batting Centre that was downright cheesy. Particularly in how if you miss a combo you're screwed and left facing in the wrong direction - which is fine - but Majima was doing the same tracking that Dark Souls II did, and seemed to be able to change directions on a whim.

Cave Story has gone from being something that seemed kind of OK, to something I can't believe I've let pass me by for so long. Just finished the Sand Kingdom and loving every minute.

Close to 3-starring every 200cc cup on MK8 Deluxe, but god almighty the AI can be annoying.

Can't remember if I already mentioned Inside. As a platform/puzzle experience/game it wouldn't normally be my bag, but there's enough hold the interest on the game side, and the atmosphere is second to none. Missed most of the hidden orbs during the first run, and I enjoyed it enough that I've gone for a second run to find them. Would certainly recommend folk try it out on a sale at least.


Majima was definitely not even human in that fight. :lol:

I got to chapter 3 in Y6 last night. Walking around with the baby and a bag now. I wonder what's going to happen when I get into a street fight...
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 6:15 pm 


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I completed all levels of Descent 2 on Insane, without mid-level saves, respawning with lives, saving all hostages, and on cold starts, meaning starting each level with the default loadout. It was Insane, only Blood on Extra Crispy can really compare. Thankfully I managed to finish this before Overload is going to be released.

Released a year after the first Descent, Descent 2 plays and looks very similar to Descent 1 to the point of seeming like just another expansion pack like Doom 2 was to Doom, but there's been a lot of changes that makes Descent 2 stand out. For starters, the size of the weapon arsenal has been effectively doubled. There's a second weapon bound to each key, and there's even a new mine type. All the enemies in Descent 2 are completely new, some of which behave similarly to their D1 counterparts, but others are entirely different and have their own unique behaviors. You are given several new gadgets, such as an afterburner to give you a short burst of forward speed, headlights to illuminate dark caverns, markers which you can place in levels in order to highlight areas in the auto-map, ammo rack pick-ups double your maximum ammo capacity, full map pick-ups show you the entire map, new Super Laser boosts boost your standard laser from any level to level 5, and a shield/energy converter which converts surplus energy into shields. Level geometry is much more complex and feels less blatantly cubic, and levels are now more interactive. Lights can be shot out to darken a room, and there's switches which can be shot to trigger other objects in the level, such as opening doors or disabling the new forcefields.

Another big addition is the Guide-Bot. This guy is the only "friendly" bot in the game who you can command to lead you towards the next key, or to lead you towards items and the level exit. Probably in response to untermensch complaining about the levels in D1 being too complex, not you can just follow the robot around to get around. The untermensch did appreciate this feature, even though you can entirely do without the Guide-Bot's "help". You're not expected to use the Guide-Bot, in each level the Guide-Bot will be locked behind a grate which you need to destroy to have it lead you around, which you are never forced to do. The pathfinding on the Guide-Bot is very much on point and helpful, in that regard. You might be wondering why you wouldn't want to have a helper always showing you the correct path in the level other than posing a challenge for yourself, and the reason for that is that the Guide-Bot is an annoying piece of shit.

The Guide-Bot will shoot flares to get your attention and show you the way, however sometimes it might hit your ship. Which only deals 1 HP damage, but it gets bloody annoying when it happens multiple times. It also might end up accidentally shooting a flare into one of the mines you placed and ruin the trap you were setting. It might end up opening doors with enemies behind them which you don't actually want to open yet. If you are controlling Guided Missiles, it might end up shooting you to get your attention which in turn automatically boots you out of the Guided Missile view. It gets too damn noisy when it gets stuck. Thankfully you can send orders to the Guide-Bot and tell it to be quiet and fuck off, though it keeps following you around if you manage to accidentally bump into it again. There's also a peculiar bug in the sourceport where it crashes if you blow up certain enemies with a missile if you told the Guide-Bot to go away. I don't mind all this too much since I never needed the Guide-Bot's help, and casuals who do probably won't care too much about it being a fucking annoyance. Unfortunately, some levels feature a secret area inside the Guide-Bot's jail cell, which means you have to break the Guide-Bot free to get to the secret and tolerate it's intolerable presence. I've come to regard this type of secret as a Descent level design sin.

The AI has seen an important change: enemies can now lead their shots as well. Meaning you can't robotically constantly dodge all shots by moving in a rectangle, but frequently have to change up the direction you're moving in because the enemy can predict where you're going and compensate their shots accordingly, making dogfights against even the weaker enemies more involving. The AI is still devious and unpredictable as ever with each enemy having its own distinct behavior, some perform hit and run attacks, some hang out in the back, and some aggressively rush you.

Matcens in Descent 2 can no longer be depleted. In D1 you could trigger a matcen three times to deplete it of spawning enemies again, but in D2 a matcen can be triggered infinitely. I would say this is a good change, you no longer have to pre-emptively trigger matcens and safely spawnkill the enemies it spawns three times so you could have a safer journey later on, which saves a lot of time (though if you do end up triggering a matcen, standing in front of the matcen and spawnkilling everything that comes out is usually still the way to go). On the other hand, this does make matcens more susceptible to milking, since some matcens can spawn enemies which drop ammo and shields which you can milk for as long as possible, depending on the level (that's why you usually place two matcens at once to make controlling them both at once hard to do). To me the ideal solution would be to let the player destroy matcens (like in Overload) and skip the boring spawnkilling phase entirely.

Descent 2's approach to difficulty thankfully differs from Descent 1 and is much more suitable to its own style of level design in gameplay. Descent 1 would often ambush you with highly powerful enemies which you couldn't dodge without foresight and which would instantly kill you. Descent 2 on the other hand prefers to slowly whittle you down. For starters, Descent 2 does not have the fucking Red Hulk or Class 1 Driller, and even the D2 equivalents of those have been nerfed into the ground. Descent 2 presents a lot of nuisance enemies at once which might sting you if you face one alone but overwhelm you when they come in numbers, and some of the more tougher enemies are usually placed in positions where they can be sniped or reliably fought without tanking too much damage. Overall Descent 2 is harder than D1, though the increased difficulty doesn't result from bullshit unlike in D1.

Levels in Descent 2 are somewhat more spacious than they were in Descent 1, giving you more maneuverability over enemies, but since they can lead their shots now you're going to need that space. However, the levels in Descent 2 can't be generalized as easy, they are much more varied on the whole, so levels often have a mix of tight tunnel sections and larger shooting galleries. But overall the levels in Descent 2 are much more complex from a combat and exploration standpoint. Especially concerning the latter, some levels made me salivate with the sheer amount and usage of secret areas at play, and the non-linearity of some levels. Some levels allow you to straight-up skip some color gates and keys for the final red one. Secrets in Descent 2 are much more tricky to find and are more numerous, on top of that secrets in D2 are less of the hidden wall-type like they were in D1, and that's because of the presence of switches.

Switches when triggered can open hidden walls, permanently unlock doors, and also temporarily open some doors. Not just switches, but just decorative screens when destroyed can also trigger secrets. However, the switches which temporarily open doors are rather annoying, because if you do shoot said switch and don't know what the switch opened, the door in question will close permanently and you will have to reload the level if you want to access the area behind that door again. Which is rather annoying to deal with. A better idea would have been to not make the switch destructible and infinitely triggerable so you can always try again to open the door. Though the best solution would be to keep the thing permanently open and/or unlocked. There are two sprites for switches, but none of them are used consistently with what they end up triggering, so red or green switches don't always open or unlock respectively. Meaning you're most likely going to be saving before each switch to figure out what it does, which is ideally unnecessary. It doesn't help that you can forcefully keep any door open by placing a marker at the door entrance (even though markers appear to be a hologram only visible to you) to skirt around the temporary opening times.

The singleplayer campaign is also structured differently from D1. Whereas D1 was about hopping from all the planets and moons in the solar system and the levels only sometimes having a thematic semblance to the planet they're taking place on, D2 is divided into episodes of four levels. Each episode has you travel to another system and introduces its own new set of enemies and texture set, with the fourth and final level of each episode having you fight a boss enemy at the end instead of a reactor like usual. While this does make the progression feel more coherent and regularly introduces new enemies even up to the very end, the levels themselves might end up feeling visually repetitive whereas D1 was full of surprises for what the next level would look like, though your opinion might vary with each texture set.

Secret levels are also done wholly differently in D2 than they were in D1. Whereas the secret levels in D1 played just like a regular level, D2 secret levels are more abstract and different in purpose. Instead of finding a hidden alternate level exit when you blow up the reactor, you can find a secret level entrance as a normal secret in the regular levels at any point. Secret levels often barely feature any enemies and aren't difficult to fight in, but they're more difficult to explore because of all the switches and twisting passages and secrets involved. They have more of that "secret level" feel to them, where the levels themselves are quite silly. One only has you fight against enemies who drop bombs and run away from you, the other is an elaborate door puzzle, the other is a frantic rush featuring multiple reactors where destroying reactors adds more time to the self-destruct countdown. The purpose behind these secret levels is to stock up on shields, ammo, and cloaks/invulns, and then go back to the level you came from. There's a secret level for each episode, and multiple levels can have entrances to the same secret level. Only destroying the reactor makes secret levels permanently inaccessible, but since you don't need to blow up the reactors to exit a secret level, that's not much of a problem.

I'm not a huge fan of how these secret levels are handled, because they can imbalance the regular levels rather strongly if you can come out swooping fully cloaked, fully invincible, and fully stocked, just like that. Whether the levels were designed and balanced around the presence of secret levels is anyone's guess, but I'm imagining that the secret levels came first and that the levels in that episode would take the secret level in mind. If you're a completionist, it's rather questionable whether you really need to complete these. I just prefer more regular secret levels and hidden alternate level exits because they're more consistent with the pacing and structure of the levels. At least these secret levels have some unique concepts to them.

The new weapons introduce a lot of new interesting things to combat. Most of the new primary weapons are essentially supercharged versions of the other weapon bound to the same key. The Helix Cannon fires a spread of five energy bolts, much like the Spreadfire, but drains you energy very quickly, and isn't very useful at long-range. But close up the Helix Cannon absolutely SHREDS. As an alternative to the Plasma Cannon you have the Phoenix Cannon, whose projectiles bounce off walls and can be used to hit enemies around corners, but it also drains more energy than the Plasma Cannon does. The Omega Cannon fires an incredibly powerful homing ray, but it has its own internal energy supply which runs out very quickly and needs to regenerate a while before being able to fire again. Unfortunately the Omega Cannon is rather unreliable for longer fights, and isn't placed that readily for you to pick up and use in the levels, which makes it rather useless if you play with cold starts. Fun fact, the Omega Cannon was widely banned in multiplayer matches because of not only how OP it was, but also because it would create tremendous amounts of lag.

The existing weapons have also seen some changes. The Fusion Cannon in particular has been nerfed rather hard in D2, it's nowhere as powerful as it used to be. I never used it anymore. The basic Laser can now be upgraded to level 5 and even 6 using Super Laser boosts to keep up with the ongoing power creep. Though I'd say the presence of Super Laser boosts makes any basic Laser pick-up for Lvl 1-4 rather redundant. At least Super Laser boosts make starting off with just the basic Lasers easier and less of a hassle to level up by introducing Super boosts.

That leaves the Gauss Rifle, which is going to be your main workhorse weapon of the game. It's hitscan so enemies can't dodge your shots, it's got its own (often) plentiful ammo supply, it has a waaay higher DPS than the Vulcan, and basically it's the most overpowered weapon in the game. There's rarely no reason to ever not use it. The primary weapon balance in Descent 2 is entirely borked because of the Gauss Rifle alone. The presence the Gauss Rifle varies from a level-to-level basis and whether they do decide to hand out the Gauss Rifle and enough ammo for the damn thing. Which is most of the time. The levels which don't present the Gauss end up being some of the most challenging, and there's only one level in the entire game (L18) which has a secret containing a Gauss Rifle and three vulcan ammo pick-ups, and that's all the ammo you get for the level, for the rest you have to make do with energy weapons. The superiority of the Gauss Rifle is further enforced by the Energy/Shield Converter, which converts surplus energy into shields. So to not waste any energy and thus potential shields, you want to be using an ammo-based weapon, which in this case is the Gauss Rifle. The Vulcan had its niche in D1 for being hitscan but comparatively low damage, but the Gauss Rifle completely triumphs over anything else, which is a shame.

The new missile types are more balanced at least. There's Flash Missiles, which temporarily stun nearby bots (which is visualized by having bots spin around like crazy, which looks hilarious), and allows you to get the drop on some robots around a corner more easily. Unfortunately it's rather underutilized rather on in the game. There's Guided Missiles, which are missiles which you can directly control to go anywhere you want, which is extremely useful for hitting dangerous targets outside your field of view. Mercury Missiles are like Concussion Missiles, except MUCH faster, making them actually useful in some of the more open spaces in the game. Earthshaker Missiles are the most powerful weapon in the game, so powerful that the whole level will shake and lights start to flicker if it is detonated. Usually everything nearby is killed in the initial blast, but if it hits a wall it will send out a cluster of homing mega missiles mopping up everything else nearby which did survive. Needless to say, these are incredibly rare. Smart Mines are the rarer but infinitely more useful alternative to Proximity Mines, because upon detonation these will send out a cluster of homing energy globs as if it were a Smart Missile, killing all nearby bots. You can perform a lot of clever tricks with these, and they just work much better as a trap, in D1 you had to place several proximity mines in front of a trap door to kill all the enemies inside, now you place a single Smart Mine.

Most of the new missile types are very welcome additions and don't make the existing missiles useless (except Concussion Missiles which were largely useless to begin with), though I'm not too fond of the impact Guided Missiles had on the game. Descent 2 features several secret areas behind grates you can't pass through, but you can fire a Guided Missile through the cracks of the grate and send it crashing into a nearby switch to open the aforementioned grate, and collect your spoils. Not to say these aren't inventive, but the holes in the grates can be incredibly fiddly to pass through, which makes them unnecessarily frustrating. Your supply of Guided Missiles is limited, so if you do end up missing you're most likely going to reload a save and try it again instead of wasting valuable ammunition. To make matters worse, to get a proper angle at the grate so your missile can fit, levels rarely ever give you enough space in front of the grate to let you shoot it in a straight line, meaning you'll often have to hover in front of the grate, so if you miss and the missile collides with the grate you'll end up damaging yourself, which further pushes you to savescum this little pseudo-minigame.

The ability to hit enemies with Guided Missiles without exposing yourself tends to be sometime taken for granted, as occasionally levels pit you against dangerous enemies placed in rather bullshit positions, where you're expected to destroy them with the Guided Missiles, but there's often no way to know to know these enemies are there beforehand. Just because you can deal with it safely doesn't excuse the trial 'n error that goes into memorizing these tricks and traps which completely fuck you over at first but are absolutely elementary to deal with once you know about them. Annoyingly, enemies can sometimes magically figure out your position if you send a Guided Missile whizzing right past them. The idea is interesting, but the impact they have on the game isn't what I'd consider a net positive. Moreover, they also slow the game down tremendously by having you manually control several Guided Missiles deep into enemy territory.

Now the enemy roster is where Descent 2 truly triumphs over Descent 1. Whereas Descent 1 would feature a lot of reskins of existing bots with more souped-up stats, Descent 2 barely has any of that. And there's no fucking Class 1 Drillers or Red Hulks either. On top of that, Descent 2 bestiary is much more varied in function, visual design, and behavior. ITDs are small agile fuckers who shoot a stream of very fast but weak bullets, and are best destroyed with a Homing Missile or Vulcan. On top of that they can also alert their bigger ITSC brothers to come chase you down, which are bigger ITDs who can fire missiles and fire an ITD stream of bullets simultaneously. Smelters fire bouncing projectiles which makes facing off against them in narrow tunnels incredibly dangerous. The new Diamond Claws are much more aggressive, but also have the ability to short-circuit, meaning that if you shoot them with energy weapons they will shoot homing energy blobs back at you, which makes fighting them in enclosed spaces even more challenging. There's little Sidearm Modula buggers who can fire Flash Missiles to blind you. There's Seekers, who can snipe you from afar with the aforementioned Mercury Missiles. E-Bandits will drain your energy if you let them get close. Omega's are suicide bombers. There's even the Boarshead, who fires Smart Missiles which can hit you from behind with the group of homing energy missiles if you do dodge the missile itself. As usual, there are also some cloaked enemy variants.

Some of the D1 oldies are present again, but in a nerfed state. The Lou Guard functions identically to the Red Hulk, but the turning radius and acquisition cone of Homing Missiles have been considerably nerfed in D2, so they're much more fair to fight even in close quarters. Bulk Destroyers are essentially Class 1 Drillers, but way less aggressive and have a much lower fire rate and damage output, which makes them considerably more bearable to deal with. That doesn't mean I'm happy with hitscan enemies in a game like Descent, I'd much rather they be pseudo-hitscan, or only attack with (pseudo-)hitscan when they get close enough. In the end-game you will face an ungodly fusion of the Spider and a Missile Platformer, which spawns a random amount of little buggers on death. How I feel about them depends on how they are used, Platformers and their like are no fun in close quarters because the backblast resulting from missiles you did dodge then exploding on the wall behind you feels rather unfair (thankfully missile launcher enemies are used less often in D2, with the exception of the aforementioned Seekers sometimes being placed very close up).

Then there's the fucking Thief-Bot. As the name implies, this dickass can steal your shit and then fly away like a little bitch, taking the top spot of most annoying enemy in the game. It has a ridiculous amount of health and erratically moves around, making it incredibly difficult to kill unless you manage to trap it, after which you can kill it to take your shit back and get you some bonus shields. It's pathfinding is very efficient and can even utilize secret areas to get away from you. The Thief-Bot is the only robot which can see through your cloak, it can also steal your cloak and invincibility. Thankfully, it cannot damage you but only steal your weapons, and there's only one in the levels it appears in. That said, I do not hate it (I do hate it, but I do not wish for it to not exist (I do wish for it to not exist, but I think it adds something interesting to the game)).

The Thief-Bot adds a lot of unpredictability to the game whose AI can already generate many unpredictable situations, the unpredictability which I consider to be Descent's one of the greatest under-the-hood features whereas other contemporary first-person shooters are somewhat too static. Now you'll have to worry about this thieving cunt coming around to steal your precious Gauss Rifle, which would then leave you to improvise your way through. Chasing a Thief-Bot down is very likely to be exhausting. It's not like you can't do anything about the Thief-Bot coming to rob you. When the Thief-Bot sees you have your back turned towards it, it will slowly creep up on you, and while it's creeping up you can hear an ominious humming from behind, alerting you to its presence and giving you a chance to shoot at it so you can tell the Thief-Bot to fuck off. Of course, this can be challenging to do in the midst of combat where you've got other things to worry about. So in Descent 2, you always have to stay on your toes.

Something you could technically do in D1 but not really in practice is circling around an enemy to hover behind its back, which usually applied to larger enemies with slower turning radiuses. However, enemies in D1 were often placed with their back to the wall and their firing range overlooking you, which made this rather unfeasible. But since levels in D2 tend to be somewhat more spacious and larger enemies aren't impossible to deal with without cheesing them, you can avoid a Lou Guard or Smelter's line of sight entirely by just circling behind them, which feels more satisfying to pull off given the pseudo-dogfighting nature of the combat in Descent (in Multiplayer anyways).

The ITD/Red Hornet/Spawn/Sidearm Modulas can be tolerated on cold starts provided you have a Vulcan or at least some homing missiles to deal with them. Trying to kill one of those with your starting LV1 Laser is like trying to eat soup with a fork. They're too damn small and too damn fast for your laser and its terrible area coverage to hit them in open areas. And sadly some levels do throw them at you at the very beginning (the final level has four of them ambush you the moment you start the level). Just give me a Spreadfire at the very least. Given how levels should be tested with the default starting loadout since you can lose all your weapons if you destroy a reactor but don't make it to the exit in time, I find it hard to believe anyone at QA could tolerate these guys at the start.

One thing I always disliked about games such as Painkiller or Hexen or Amid Evil which refresh the enemy bestiary every four levels is that the cool interesting enemies don't get used again, or at the very least appear as a reskin. It's a waste of resources and level design potential. Now Descent 2 kind of does this, but even enemies introduced earlier on will continue to appear in later levels, such as the Thief-Bot, Diamond Claw, and Lou Guards. The underlying idea seems to be that if you're in a ice level of sorts, that you will face blue ice enemies such as Ice Spindles and Foxes, and in red levels you face red or brown 'fire' enemies such as PIGs (there we go again with the pig references) and Beepers. I guess that makes things more visually coherent, but I don't really think this should matter that much. I'd rather prefer an interesting combination of enemies no matter their visual theme. Though new enemies being regularly introduced over the course of the campaign keeps things fresh, having the final batch of new enemies barely cooperate with some of the pre-existing enemies is a bloody shame.

Every fourth level you'll face off against a boss enemy instead of a reactor, and these bosses are big dudes which can dish out a lot of damage. D1 had only 2 boss fights, this one has six. Much like in D1, the bosses in D2 can spawn additional enemies and also teleport around (probably to offset not being able to move as freely because they're so fucking big), and annoyingly they can also teleport behind you or in your face, though their target destination seems to be entirely random. I can't say I really dig the bosses, but they suit the exploratory nature of the game well enough where the arenas you fight the bosses in often have secret passages containing cloak and invincibility power-ups to make the fight easier, so the bosses are not just "shoot at it until it dies".

The first two bosses are easy enough and not really worth talking about. The third boss is slightly trickier because it fires Mega Missiles which have a large blast radius and home in on you, but the arena you fight this boss in is large enough for you to safely snipe it from a long distance (provided you don't get an unlucky teleport).

The fourth boss is considerably more anal, because it can fire homing Flash Missiles with D1-levels of turning speeds, meaning that fighting this boss head-on is fighting with a completely white screen. However, there's a room in the arena from which you can safely snipe the boss without exposing yourself. But it doesn't teleport on its own, you need to lure it out by hitting it with a Guided Missile so it can teleport into a position from which you can actually safely shoot the boss. This one sucks rather hard, on Insane cheesing is the only option if you don't want to get blinded to death.

The fifth boss is inexplicably completely resistant against ballistic weapons such as the beloved Gauss Rifle, meaning you need to kill it with energy weapons (and the only way you'll learn this is by looking up information online, the abstract-ass weapon resistances are barely communicated in-game at all). However, the arena in which the fifth boss is incredibly narrow and small, giving you no room to dodge its short-circuit homing energy globs, hitscan rifle, and Mercury Missiles. Save for the secret level (which is bugged on my end, for some reason I don't retain any of the items or power-ups I picked up in a secret level when I exit it), there's no Earthshakers or Invincibilities to make it easier on you (Shakers count as energy weapons for some reason), so the most surefire way to kill this boss is to hit it with the Phoenix Cannon and rebounding shots off the wall into the arena without exposing myself. And since the boss has a lot of health and the Phoenix Cannon drains energy quickly, you'll have to spend several trips to the nearby energy center to recharge. This one sucks too since you'll have no choice on Insane but to cheese it, but at least the boss model looks pretty cool.

The final boss is completely invulnerable save for a weak spot on its back, which you need to penetrate with Earthshaker Missiles. However, the boss itself primarily fires Earthshakers, meaning that if you don't have an invuln you will die and if you don't have a cloak you will be literally shaking. Thankfully there's enough Shakers placed in the level itself and enough power-ups in the boss arena. While the idea seems to be to fire several Shakers into its ass, you can actually get by with just one. Paradoxically, a direct Shaker impact deals less damage than all of its bomblets hitting a single target, and bomblets are only spawned if the Shaker hits a wall. So it's easier to fire a Shaker at a wall behind the boss' weakspot, have the bomblets home into the weakspot, and then finish off the boss with your laser. Normally most things die in the initial blast so you don't even notice. Given the amount of Earthshakers I'm inclined to believe the designers intended the player to kill the boss with direct Shaker impacts, an oversight perhaps? This boss is more of a puzzle than anything this way, and actually rather underwhelming once you realize how to beat it. Weirdly enough, the game ends directly when you kill the boss, no escape sequence or anything even though there is an emergency exit present in the final level.

Bosses in a game like this could challenge your ability to move with a plethora of interesting to dodge attacks, and with the standard enemy AI, I can imagine you could make an interesting boss fight if you gave a boss more routines for what to do depending on your (relative) position and range, and more phases to challenge the player's aiming and dodging skills. As it stands, most of the bosses are given overpowered weaponry which makes a regular dogfighting approach you would use against a normal enemy out of the question. The teleporting shtick is too random for it to be really fair, there's nothing preventing from the boss teleporting behind you or in your face, with no way to reasonably defend yourself against it. The first two fall into "shoot at it until it dies" territory while the rest fall into "cheese or die"-puzzle boss territory.

I find that the final Puuma Sphere episode does kind of drop the ball, as the levels revert to D1's dickassery of cheap traps and very narrow corridors with Smart Missile-launching Boarsheads and Spider Platformers. It's got none of that exploratory goodness of Brimspark or Baloris, and even geometrically the levels in Puuma Sphere look like Descent 1 for how simple the geometry is. Puuma Sphere also features some of the hardest levels in the game, which is unfortunately achieved through the aforementioned dickassery. L23 is strangely one of the easiest levels in the game for how ridiculously open it is and lenient with Gauss Rifle ammo. It also shows that Boarsheads work much better in larger areas since you're given plenty of room to dodge their Smart Missiles and the homing energy globs coming up from behind you. Unfortunately this is the only level where the Boarshead is used in this way. I wish Boarsheads were introduced earlier on and be placed prominently and large open areas, because of how much I like the idea of dodging smart missile globs from behind given enough space. Personally I think introducing no new enemies at all for the final episode and having instead the entire cast appear for each level would let you do much more creative things with the level design on top of instilling a sense of closure with having each bot wish you farewell (with their bullets). The difficulty curve of D2 does increase exponentionally towards the end, so most of the game isn't really like this.

The (MIDI) music this time around is done by one guy called Dan Wentz. In my opinion, these tracks are some of the best in the Descent canon, but as a soundtrack it's way smaller compared to Descent 1. Aside from a menu, briefing and ending theme, there's only four level themes reused throughout the game, compared to D1's 22. Though this kind of fits since the singleplayer is split up in episodes of four. Now, this comparison isn't entirely fair. D1 had a longer development time behind it and a whole team of Interplay composers, whereas Descent 2 had the development time of slightly over a year with one guy doing the music (and Mark Morgan contributing music for the cinematics). The alternative to the MIDI is the Redbook soundtrack, which delivers studio-quality industrial music certainly fitting for Descent (including some music by Skinny Puppy and Type-O Negative), though much like the D1 Redbook soundtrack I found it to be too loud for a game like this, and the MIDI songs for D2 are already pushing it. Even so, it's certainly not a bad alternative to the MIDI music.

I guess this sounds like more shitting than praising, though most of the praise I have for D2 I noted for D1 in a previous post about D1, and don't feel like repeating myself too much since D2 is in a lot of ways very identical to D1. However, I do consider D2 to be the superior game because of its superior bestiary and weapon line-up (even though the Gauss Rifle unbalances everything like hell) and more fleshed out level design. The AI's new ability to lead shots did a lot to spice up combat. Save for the weapon balance and soundtrack, Descent 2 takes everything D1 does and does it better, you can't ask more from a sequel.

There's also a PS1 port of Descent called Descent Maximum, which features its own original set of 20+ levels made to play using the Descent 2 enemy set. You can find a PC conversion of Maximum and play the levels on PC. The Maximum levels are much smaller in size and scope, probably to fit the PS1's constraints. Though small levels like these are kind of fresh after being only able to finish one level per day. I haven't finished Maximum yet, but there are some interesting levels in here, even though some of them are not that good. There's also the Vertigo expansion pack for Descent 2, which features twenty new levels and new enemies, though I haven't gotten around to playing it (or installing it, I'm having trouble finding it to begin with). I hear Vertigo is even better than the D2 campaign. I don't think I'll be able to clear all levels on Insane before Overload releases, though.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 6:23 pm 


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Steamflogger Boss wrote:
Walking around with the baby and a bag now. I wonder what's going to happen when I get into a street fight...

I wonder.

Anyway, I just finished Yakuza 6, a couple of closing thoughts:

- Playthrough ended up around 60 hours total, roughly 80 percent completion, about the same place I've ended most of the other Yakuza titles I played; basically progressed everything that interested me up to the point where I said "going any farther pretty much means grinding" and stopped.

- Speaking of grinding, while I managed to level up more than enough to progress without much trouble (on "Normal" difficulty at least), the "split experience" system struck me as uneven; you're beating up dudes throughout no matter what you do (as it should be), and thus gaining lots of certain types of exp from that, but other types are only obtainable in decent quantities from major battles, sidequests and certain minigames, so I found myself regularly short on those, while the stuff I got from battles was often maxed out with noplace to put it by the end.

- Still hoping they take a different approach to combat with Kiwami 2 and whatever else is in the works; it doesn't ruin the game, and the series has, if we're being honest, always been a bit clumsy in this area, but the fact is it just doesn't feel as precise as its predecessors, partially due to the new engine. My most frustrating encounter was with an enemy that literally caught me in an infinite combo; he hit me in the back (yes, the "lock-on" is as screwy as it's ever been) with an attack that stunned me, used it again before I could recover, and repeated the process until I was dead (off to the side, once or twice a mission was bugged and impossible to complete, so I had to try again after forced failure). The new physics also make randomly-flying debris even more of a pain than before whenever it happens to rear its head.

- For all the appreciated quality-of-life improvements that have been made here, I'm still baffled that Sega still takes such a cumbersome approach to the completion it encourages; if I'm ordering something to eat I still can't see a checkmark or something on the menu showing me I've already tried it, before buying I have to open the pause screen up, scroll down to its listing in the "awards" section (one item at a time, no pressing right or something to scroll several spaces at once), and look at the checklist there before closing the pause menu and talking to the waiter. Also no way to organize your reserve soldiers in Clan Creator, and so forth.

- On that note, never bothered with the "upload your team and compete against others'" thing, since you can only get most of the top-tier members by paying 2 bucks a pop for them as DLC, screw that nonsense.

- In certain respects this is the best of the series IMO, but I have to concur with those who say that all the same it feels a bit rushed, especially for a grand send-off for the series' signature character - the world is smaller (albeit less bloated, to a degree), many major series players are mostly or entirely absent, and while regular city switches make for less of an occasional slog than 4 or 5 could be, the pacing can feel awkward at times, and all of these things feel less like conscious choices than decisions made out of necessity (though who knows, I could be wrong). Overall still worth playing, especially for series fans, but most will probably prefer Zero over it.

- None of the above matters because I wasn't able to find two of the kitties. The entire playthrough is thus forfeit.

Not sure what I'm in the mood for next...well, I always manage to find something. :P
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 10:24 pm 


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Mega-CD: Wonderdog & Terminator.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 12:36 am 


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Played a bunch of Yakuza 6 today. The baseball mini-game and the clan thing are big time sinks but I can't help maxing stuff out.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:17 am 


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Bleed 2

How could this game have slipped under my radar for so long? This is the best indie action game since Noitu Love 2! But unlike that game, it's not designed to break my mouse buttons. It even has a surprisingly decent random level generator as an afterthought!
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 3:13 pm 


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FRO wrote:
I got a review code for Project Xenon Valkyrie+ on PS4. It's a pretty interesting 8-bit style Rogue-like action platformer. It has solid chiptune music, and a bit of a punishing difficulty. It's fun, though, and it has an addictive quality to it.


I quit playing this, and wrote a review:

http://www.rfgeneration.com/news/projec ... w-3714.php

I've also been casually working on Bayonetta (Switch) and MediEvil Resurrection (PSP) of late.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 1:09 am 


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EmperorIng wrote:
Immryr wrote:
i'm starting to think i might have missed the rifle as i've been picking up rifle ammo for a little while now but haven't come across the weapon itself. oh well.
The rifle is in the room you fought the worm boss in. I was surprised to learn that my brother completely missed it too. I could have sworn the camera pans to the rifles sitting in a pile before the boss fight starts. Don't feel too bad, as he got the bad ending on his first try.

Count me in as another person that completely missed the rifle in SH1. I'm usually really slow and thorough in these games, so I felt like such an idiot once I realized I missed the rifle and couldn't go back for it. I think SH1 still holds up much better than people would expect, I almost enjoy it as much as 2, and in certain regards I think it might be debatably better. While it doesn't have the resources that the later SH titles would get to work with, it still does a fantastic job creating such a foreboding atmosphere with the PS1 hardware.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:07 am 


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Durandal wrote:
Spoiler: show
I completed all levels of Descent 2 on Insane, without mid-level saves, respawning with lives, saving all hostages, and on cold starts, meaning starting each level with the default loadout. It was Insane, only Blood on Extra Crispy can really compare. Thankfully I managed to finish this before Overload is going to be released.

Released a year after the first Descent, Descent 2 plays and looks very similar to Descent 1 to the point of seeming like just another expansion pack like Doom 2 was to Doom, but there's been a lot of changes that makes Descent 2 stand out. For starters, the size of the weapon arsenal has been effectively doubled. There's a second weapon bound to each key, and there's even a new mine type. All the enemies in Descent 2 are completely new, some of which behave similarly to their D1 counterparts, but others are entirely different and have their own unique behaviors. You are given several new gadgets, such as an afterburner to give you a short burst of forward speed, headlights to illuminate dark caverns, markers which you can place in levels in order to highlight areas in the auto-map, ammo rack pick-ups double your maximum ammo capacity, full map pick-ups show you the entire map, new Super Laser boosts boost your standard laser from any level to level 5, and a shield/energy converter which converts surplus energy into shields. Level geometry is much more complex and feels less blatantly cubic, and levels are now more interactive. Lights can be shot out to darken a room, and there's switches which can be shot to trigger other objects in the level, such as opening doors or disabling the new forcefields.

Another big addition is the Guide-Bot. This guy is the only "friendly" bot in the game who you can command to lead you towards the next key, or to lead you towards items and the level exit. Probably in response to untermensch complaining about the levels in D1 being too complex, not you can just follow the robot around to get around. The untermensch did appreciate this feature, even though you can entirely do without the Guide-Bot's "help". You're not expected to use the Guide-Bot, in each level the Guide-Bot will be locked behind a grate which you need to destroy to have it lead you around, which you are never forced to do. The pathfinding on the Guide-Bot is very much on point and helpful, in that regard. You might be wondering why you wouldn't want to have a helper always showing you the correct path in the level other than posing a challenge for yourself, and the reason for that is that the Guide-Bot is an annoying piece of shit.

The Guide-Bot will shoot flares to get your attention and show you the way, however sometimes it might hit your ship. Which only deals 1 HP damage, but it gets bloody annoying when it happens multiple times. It also might end up accidentally shooting a flare into one of the mines you placed and ruin the trap you were setting. It might end up opening doors with enemies behind them which you don't actually want to open yet. If you are controlling Guided Missiles, it might end up shooting you to get your attention which in turn automatically boots you out of the Guided Missile view. It gets too damn noisy when it gets stuck. Thankfully you can send orders to the Guide-Bot and tell it to be quiet and fuck off, though it keeps following you around if you manage to accidentally bump into it again. There's also a peculiar bug in the sourceport where it crashes if you blow up certain enemies with a missile if you told the Guide-Bot to go away. I don't mind all this too much since I never needed the Guide-Bot's help, and casuals who do probably won't care too much about it being a fucking annoyance. Unfortunately, some levels feature a secret area inside the Guide-Bot's jail cell, which means you have to break the Guide-Bot free to get to the secret and tolerate it's intolerable presence. I've come to regard this type of secret as a Descent level design sin.

The AI has seen an important change: enemies can now lead their shots as well. Meaning you can't robotically constantly dodge all shots by moving in a rectangle, but frequently have to change up the direction you're moving in because the enemy can predict where you're going and compensate their shots accordingly, making dogfights against even the weaker enemies more involving. The AI is still devious and unpredictable as ever with each enemy having its own distinct behavior, some perform hit and run attacks, some hang out in the back, and some aggressively rush you.

Matcens in Descent 2 can no longer be depleted. In D1 you could trigger a matcen three times to deplete it of spawning enemies again, but in D2 a matcen can be triggered infinitely. I would say this is a good change, you no longer have to pre-emptively trigger matcens and safely spawnkill the enemies it spawns three times so you could have a safer journey later on, which saves a lot of time (though if you do end up triggering a matcen, standing in front of the matcen and spawnkilling everything that comes out is usually still the way to go). On the other hand, this does make matcens more susceptible to milking, since some matcens can spawn enemies which drop ammo and shields which you can milk for as long as possible, depending on the level (that's why you usually place two matcens at once to make controlling them both at once hard to do). To me the ideal solution would be to let the player destroy matcens (like in Overload) and skip the boring spawnkilling phase entirely.

Descent 2's approach to difficulty thankfully differs from Descent 1 and is much more suitable to its own style of level design in gameplay. Descent 1 would often ambush you with highly powerful enemies which you couldn't dodge without foresight and which would instantly kill you. Descent 2 on the other hand prefers to slowly whittle you down. For starters, Descent 2 does not have the fucking Red Hulk or Class 1 Driller, and even the D2 equivalents of those have been nerfed into the ground. Descent 2 presents a lot of nuisance enemies at once which might sting you if you face one alone but overwhelm you when they come in numbers, and some of the more tougher enemies are usually placed in positions where they can be sniped or reliably fought without tanking too much damage. Overall Descent 2 is harder than D1, though the increased difficulty doesn't result from bullshit unlike in D1.

Levels in Descent 2 are somewhat more spacious than they were in Descent 1, giving you more maneuverability over enemies, but since they can lead their shots now you're going to need that space. However, the levels in Descent 2 can't be generalized as easy, they are much more varied on the whole, so levels often have a mix of tight tunnel sections and larger shooting galleries. But overall the levels in Descent 2 are much more complex from a combat and exploration standpoint. Especially concerning the latter, some levels made me salivate with the sheer amount and usage of secret areas at play, and the non-linearity of some levels. Some levels allow you to straight-up skip some color gates and keys for the final red one. Secrets in Descent 2 are much more tricky to find and are more numerous, on top of that secrets in D2 are less of the hidden wall-type like they were in D1, and that's because of the presence of switches.

Switches when triggered can open hidden walls, permanently unlock doors, and also temporarily open some doors. Not just switches, but just decorative screens when destroyed can also trigger secrets. However, the switches which temporarily open doors are rather annoying, because if you do shoot said switch and don't know what the switch opened, the door in question will close permanently and you will have to reload the level if you want to access the area behind that door again. Which is rather annoying to deal with. A better idea would have been to not make the switch destructible and infinitely triggerable so you can always try again to open the door. Though the best solution would be to keep the thing permanently open and/or unlocked. There are two sprites for switches, but none of them are used consistently with what they end up triggering, so red or green switches don't always open or unlock respectively. Meaning you're most likely going to be saving before each switch to figure out what it does, which is ideally unnecessary. It doesn't help that you can forcefully keep any door open by placing a marker at the door entrance (even though markers appear to be a hologram only visible to you) to skirt around the temporary opening times.

The singleplayer campaign is also structured differently from D1. Whereas D1 was about hopping from all the planets and moons in the solar system and the levels only sometimes having a thematic semblance to the planet they're taking place on, D2 is divided into episodes of four levels. Each episode has you travel to another system and introduces its own new set of enemies and texture set, with the fourth and final level of each episode having you fight a boss enemy at the end instead of a reactor like usual. While this does make the progression feel more coherent and regularly introduces new enemies even up to the very end, the levels themselves might end up feeling visually repetitive whereas D1 was full of surprises for what the next level would look like, though your opinion might vary with each texture set.

Secret levels are also done wholly differently in D2 than they were in D1. Whereas the secret levels in D1 played just like a regular level, D2 secret levels are more abstract and different in purpose. Instead of finding a hidden alternate level exit when you blow up the reactor, you can find a secret level entrance as a normal secret in the regular levels at any point. Secret levels often barely feature any enemies and aren't difficult to fight in, but they're more difficult to explore because of all the switches and twisting passages and secrets involved. They have more of that "secret level" feel to them, where the levels themselves are quite silly. One only has you fight against enemies who drop bombs and run away from you, the other is an elaborate door puzzle, the other is a frantic rush featuring multiple reactors where destroying reactors adds more time to the self-destruct countdown. The purpose behind these secret levels is to stock up on shields, ammo, and cloaks/invulns, and then go back to the level you came from. There's a secret level for each episode, and multiple levels can have entrances to the same secret level. Only destroying the reactor makes secret levels permanently inaccessible, but since you don't need to blow up the reactors to exit a secret level, that's not much of a problem.

I'm not a huge fan of how these secret levels are handled, because they can imbalance the regular levels rather strongly if you can come out swooping fully cloaked, fully invincible, and fully stocked, just like that. Whether the levels were designed and balanced around the presence of secret levels is anyone's guess, but I'm imagining that the secret levels came first and that the levels in that episode would take the secret level in mind. If you're a completionist, it's rather questionable whether you really need to complete these. I just prefer more regular secret levels and hidden alternate level exits because they're more consistent with the pacing and structure of the levels. At least these secret levels have some unique concepts to them.

The new weapons introduce a lot of new interesting things to combat. Most of the new primary weapons are essentially supercharged versions of the other weapon bound to the same key. The Helix Cannon fires a spread of five energy bolts, much like the Spreadfire, but drains you energy very quickly, and isn't very useful at long-range. But close up the Helix Cannon absolutely SHREDS. As an alternative to the Plasma Cannon you have the Phoenix Cannon, whose projectiles bounce off walls and can be used to hit enemies around corners, but it also drains more energy than the Plasma Cannon does. The Omega Cannon fires an incredibly powerful homing ray, but it has its own internal energy supply which runs out very quickly and needs to regenerate a while before being able to fire again. Unfortunately the Omega Cannon is rather unreliable for longer fights, and isn't placed that readily for you to pick up and use in the levels, which makes it rather useless if you play with cold starts. Fun fact, the Omega Cannon was widely banned in multiplayer matches because of not only how OP it was, but also because it would create tremendous amounts of lag.

The existing weapons have also seen some changes. The Fusion Cannon in particular has been nerfed rather hard in D2, it's nowhere as powerful as it used to be. I never used it anymore. The basic Laser can now be upgraded to level 5 and even 6 using Super Laser boosts to keep up with the ongoing power creep. Though I'd say the presence of Super Laser boosts makes any basic Laser pick-up for Lvl 1-4 rather redundant. At least Super Laser boosts make starting off with just the basic Lasers easier and less of a hassle to level up by introducing Super boosts.

That leaves the Gauss Rifle, which is going to be your main workhorse weapon of the game. It's hitscan so enemies can't dodge your shots, it's got its own (often) plentiful ammo supply, it has a waaay higher DPS than the Vulcan, and basically it's the most overpowered weapon in the game. There's rarely no reason to ever not use it. The primary weapon balance in Descent 2 is entirely borked because of the Gauss Rifle alone. The presence the Gauss Rifle varies from a level-to-level basis and whether they do decide to hand out the Gauss Rifle and enough ammo for the damn thing. Which is most of the time. The levels which don't present the Gauss end up being some of the most challenging, and there's only one level in the entire game (L18) which has a secret containing a Gauss Rifle and three vulcan ammo pick-ups, and that's all the ammo you get for the level, for the rest you have to make do with energy weapons. The superiority of the Gauss Rifle is further enforced by the Energy/Shield Converter, which converts surplus energy into shields. So to not waste any energy and thus potential shields, you want to be using an ammo-based weapon, which in this case is the Gauss Rifle. The Vulcan had its niche in D1 for being hitscan but comparatively low damage, but the Gauss Rifle completely triumphs over anything else, which is a shame.

The new missile types are more balanced at least. There's Flash Missiles, which temporarily stun nearby bots (which is visualized by having bots spin around like crazy, which looks hilarious), and allows you to get the drop on some robots around a corner more easily. Unfortunately it's rather underutilized rather on in the game. There's Guided Missiles, which are missiles which you can directly control to go anywhere you want, which is extremely useful for hitting dangerous targets outside your field of view. Mercury Missiles are like Concussion Missiles, except MUCH faster, making them actually useful in some of the more open spaces in the game. Earthshaker Missiles are the most powerful weapon in the game, so powerful that the whole level will shake and lights start to flicker if it is detonated. Usually everything nearby is killed in the initial blast, but if it hits a wall it will send out a cluster of homing mega missiles mopping up everything else nearby which did survive. Needless to say, these are incredibly rare. Smart Mines are the rarer but infinitely more useful alternative to Proximity Mines, because upon detonation these will send out a cluster of homing energy globs as if it were a Smart Missile, killing all nearby bots. You can perform a lot of clever tricks with these, and they just work much better as a trap, in D1 you had to place several proximity mines in front of a trap door to kill all the enemies inside, now you place a single Smart Mine.

Most of the new missile types are very welcome additions and don't make the existing missiles useless (except Concussion Missiles which were largely useless to begin with), though I'm not too fond of the impact Guided Missiles had on the game. Descent 2 features several secret areas behind grates you can't pass through, but you can fire a Guided Missile through the cracks of the grate and send it crashing into a nearby switch to open the aforementioned grate, and collect your spoils. Not to say these aren't inventive, but the holes in the grates can be incredibly fiddly to pass through, which makes them unnecessarily frustrating. Your supply of Guided Missiles is limited, so if you do end up missing you're most likely going to reload a save and try it again instead of wasting valuable ammunition. To make matters worse, to get a proper angle at the grate so your missile can fit, levels rarely ever give you enough space in front of the grate to let you shoot it in a straight line, meaning you'll often have to hover in front of the grate, so if you miss and the missile collides with the grate you'll end up damaging yourself, which further pushes you to savescum this little pseudo-minigame.

The ability to hit enemies with Guided Missiles without exposing yourself tends to be sometime taken for granted, as occasionally levels pit you against dangerous enemies placed in rather bullshit positions, where you're expected to destroy them with the Guided Missiles, but there's often no way to know to know these enemies are there beforehand. Just because you can deal with it safely doesn't excuse the trial 'n error that goes into memorizing these tricks and traps which completely fuck you over at first but are absolutely elementary to deal with once you know about them. Annoyingly, enemies can sometimes magically figure out your position if you send a Guided Missile whizzing right past them. The idea is interesting, but the impact they have on the game isn't what I'd consider a net positive. Moreover, they also slow the game down tremendously by having you manually control several Guided Missiles deep into enemy territory.

Now the enemy roster is where Descent 2 truly triumphs over Descent 1. Whereas Descent 1 would feature a lot of reskins of existing bots with more souped-up stats, Descent 2 barely has any of that. And there's no fucking Class 1 Drillers or Red Hulks either. On top of that, Descent 2 bestiary is much more varied in function, visual design, and behavior. ITDs are small agile fuckers who shoot a stream of very fast but weak bullets, and are best destroyed with a Homing Missile or Vulcan. On top of that they can also alert their bigger ITSC brothers to come chase you down, which are bigger ITDs who can fire missiles and fire an ITD stream of bullets simultaneously. Smelters fire bouncing projectiles which makes facing off against them in narrow tunnels incredibly dangerous. The new Diamond Claws are much more aggressive, but also have the ability to short-circuit, meaning that if you shoot them with energy weapons they will shoot homing energy blobs back at you, which makes fighting them in enclosed spaces even more challenging. There's little Sidearm Modula buggers who can fire Flash Missiles to blind you. There's Seekers, who can snipe you from afar with the aforementioned Mercury Missiles. E-Bandits will drain your energy if you let them get close. Omega's are suicide bombers. There's even the Boarshead, who fires Smart Missiles which can hit you from behind with the group of homing energy missiles if you do dodge the missile itself. As usual, there are also some cloaked enemy variants.

Some of the D1 oldies are present again, but in a nerfed state. The Lou Guard functions identically to the Red Hulk, but the turning radius and acquisition cone of Homing Missiles have been considerably nerfed in D2, so they're much more fair to fight even in close quarters. Bulk Destroyers are essentially Class 1 Drillers, but way less aggressive and have a much lower fire rate and damage output, which makes them considerably more bearable to deal with. That doesn't mean I'm happy with hitscan enemies in a game like Descent, I'd much rather they be pseudo-hitscan, or only attack with (pseudo-)hitscan when they get close enough. In the end-game you will face an ungodly fusion of the Spider and a Missile Platformer, which spawns a random amount of little buggers on death. How I feel about them depends on how they are used, Platformers and their like are no fun in close quarters because the backblast resulting from missiles you did dodge then exploding on the wall behind you feels rather unfair (thankfully missile launcher enemies are used less often in D2, with the exception of the aforementioned Seekers sometimes being placed very close up).

Then there's the fucking Thief-Bot. As the name implies, this dickass can steal your shit and then fly away like a little bitch, taking the top spot of most annoying enemy in the game. It has a ridiculous amount of health and erratically moves around, making it incredibly difficult to kill unless you manage to trap it, after which you can kill it to take your shit back and get you some bonus shields. It's pathfinding is very efficient and can even utilize secret areas to get away from you. The Thief-Bot is the only robot which can see through your cloak, it can also steal your cloak and invincibility. Thankfully, it cannot damage you but only steal your weapons, and there's only one in the levels it appears in. That said, I do not hate it (I do hate it, but I do not wish for it to not exist (I do wish for it to not exist, but I think it adds something interesting to the game)).

The Thief-Bot adds a lot of unpredictability to the game whose AI can already generate many unpredictable situations, the unpredictability which I consider to be Descent's one of the greatest under-the-hood features whereas other contemporary first-person shooters are somewhat too static. Now you'll have to worry about this thieving cunt coming around to steal your precious Gauss Rifle, which would then leave you to improvise your way through. Chasing a Thief-Bot down is very likely to be exhausting. It's not like you can't do anything about the Thief-Bot coming to rob you. When the Thief-Bot sees you have your back turned towards it, it will slowly creep up on you, and while it's creeping up you can hear an ominious humming from behind, alerting you to its presence and giving you a chance to shoot at it so you can tell the Thief-Bot to fuck off. Of course, this can be challenging to do in the midst of combat where you've got other things to worry about. So in Descent 2, you always have to stay on your toes.

Something you could technically do in D1 but not really in practice is circling around an enemy to hover behind its back, which usually applied to larger enemies with slower turning radiuses. However, enemies in D1 were often placed with their back to the wall and their firing range overlooking you, which made this rather unfeasible. But since levels in D2 tend to be somewhat more spacious and larger enemies aren't impossible to deal with without cheesing them, you can avoid a Lou Guard or Smelter's line of sight entirely by just circling behind them, which feels more satisfying to pull off given the pseudo-dogfighting nature of the combat in Descent (in Multiplayer anyways).

The ITD/Red Hornet/Spawn/Sidearm Modulas can be tolerated on cold starts provided you have a Vulcan or at least some homing missiles to deal with them. Trying to kill one of those with your starting LV1 Laser is like trying to eat soup with a fork. They're too damn small and too damn fast for your laser and its terrible area coverage to hit them in open areas. And sadly some levels do throw them at you at the very beginning (the final level has four of them ambush you the moment you start the level). Just give me a Spreadfire at the very least. Given how levels should be tested with the default starting loadout since you can lose all your weapons if you destroy a reactor but don't make it to the exit in time, I find it hard to believe anyone at QA could tolerate these guys at the start.

One thing I always disliked about games such as Painkiller or Hexen or Amid Evil which refresh the enemy bestiary every four levels is that the cool interesting enemies don't get used again, or at the very least appear as a reskin. It's a waste of resources and level design potential. Now Descent 2 kind of does this, but even enemies introduced earlier on will continue to appear in later levels, such as the Thief-Bot, Diamond Claw, and Lou Guards. The underlying idea seems to be that if you're in a ice level of sorts, that you will face blue ice enemies such as Ice Spindles and Foxes, and in red levels you face red or brown 'fire' enemies such as PIGs (there we go again with the pig references) and Beepers. I guess that makes things more visually coherent, but I don't really think this should matter that much. I'd rather prefer an interesting combination of enemies no matter their visual theme. Though new enemies being regularly introduced over the course of the campaign keeps things fresh, having the final batch of new enemies barely cooperate with some of the pre-existing enemies is a bloody shame.

Every fourth level you'll face off against a boss enemy instead of a reactor, and these bosses are big dudes which can dish out a lot of damage. D1 had only 2 boss fights, this one has six. Much like in D1, the bosses in D2 can spawn additional enemies and also teleport around (probably to offset not being able to move as freely because they're so fucking big), and annoyingly they can also teleport behind you or in your face, though their target destination seems to be entirely random. I can't say I really dig the bosses, but they suit the exploratory nature of the game well enough where the arenas you fight the bosses in often have secret passages containing cloak and invincibility power-ups to make the fight easier, so the bosses are not just "shoot at it until it dies".

The first two bosses are easy enough and not really worth talking about. The third boss is slightly trickier because it fires Mega Missiles which have a large blast radius and home in on you, but the arena you fight this boss in is large enough for you to safely snipe it from a long distance (provided you don't get an unlucky teleport).

The fourth boss is considerably more anal, because it can fire homing Flash Missiles with D1-levels of turning speeds, meaning that fighting this boss head-on is fighting with a completely white screen. However, there's a room in the arena from which you can safely snipe the boss without exposing yourself. But it doesn't teleport on its own, you need to lure it out by hitting it with a Guided Missile so it can teleport into a position from which you can actually safely shoot the boss. This one sucks rather hard, on Insane cheesing is the only option if you don't want to get blinded to death.

The fifth boss is inexplicably completely resistant against ballistic weapons such as the beloved Gauss Rifle, meaning you need to kill it with energy weapons (and the only way you'll learn this is by looking up information online, the abstract-ass weapon resistances are barely communicated in-game at all). However, the arena in which the fifth boss is incredibly narrow and small, giving you no room to dodge its short-circuit homing energy globs, hitscan rifle, and Mercury Missiles. Save for the secret level (which is bugged on my end, for some reason I don't retain any of the items or power-ups I picked up in a secret level when I exit it), there's no Earthshakers or Invincibilities to make it easier on you (Shakers count as energy weapons for some reason), so the most surefire way to kill this boss is to hit it with the Phoenix Cannon and rebounding shots off the wall into the arena without exposing myself. And since the boss has a lot of health and the Phoenix Cannon drains energy quickly, you'll have to spend several trips to the nearby energy center to recharge. This one sucks too since you'll have no choice on Insane but to cheese it, but at least the boss model looks pretty cool.

The final boss is completely invulnerable save for a weak spot on its back, which you need to penetrate with Earthshaker Missiles. However, the boss itself primarily fires Earthshakers, meaning that if you don't have an invuln you will die and if you don't have a cloak you will be literally shaking. Thankfully there's enough Shakers placed in the level itself and enough power-ups in the boss arena. While the idea seems to be to fire several Shakers into its ass, you can actually get by with just one. Paradoxically, a direct Shaker impact deals less damage than all of its bomblets hitting a single target, and bomblets are only spawned if the Shaker hits a wall. So it's easier to fire a Shaker at a wall behind the boss' weakspot, have the bomblets home into the weakspot, and then finish off the boss with your laser. Normally most things die in the initial blast so you don't even notice. Given the amount of Earthshakers I'm inclined to believe the designers intended the player to kill the boss with direct Shaker impacts, an oversight perhaps? This boss is more of a puzzle than anything this way, and actually rather underwhelming once you realize how to beat it. Weirdly enough, the game ends directly when you kill the boss, no escape sequence or anything even though there is an emergency exit present in the final level.

Bosses in a game like this could challenge your ability to move with a plethora of interesting to dodge attacks, and with the standard enemy AI, I can imagine you could make an interesting boss fight if you gave a boss more routines for what to do depending on your (relative) position and range, and more phases to challenge the player's aiming and dodging skills. As it stands, most of the bosses are given overpowered weaponry which makes a regular dogfighting approach you would use against a normal enemy out of the question. The teleporting shtick is too random for it to be really fair, there's nothing preventing from the boss teleporting behind you or in your face, with no way to reasonably defend yourself against it. The first two fall into "shoot at it until it dies" territory while the rest fall into "cheese or die"-puzzle boss territory.

I find that the final Puuma Sphere episode does kind of drop the ball, as the levels revert to D1's dickassery of cheap traps and very narrow corridors with Smart Missile-launching Boarsheads and Spider Platformers. It's got none of that exploratory goodness of Brimspark or Baloris, and even geometrically the levels in Puuma Sphere look like Descent 1 for how simple the geometry is. Puuma Sphere also features some of the hardest levels in the game, which is unfortunately achieved through the aforementioned dickassery. L23 is strangely one of the easiest levels in the game for how ridiculously open it is and lenient with Gauss Rifle ammo. It also shows that Boarsheads work much better in larger areas since you're given plenty of room to dodge their Smart Missiles and the homing energy globs coming up from behind you. Unfortunately this is the only level where the Boarshead is used in this way. I wish Boarsheads were introduced earlier on and be placed prominently and large open areas, because of how much I like the idea of dodging smart missile globs from behind given enough space. Personally I think introducing no new enemies at all for the final episode and having instead the entire cast appear for each level would let you do much more creative things with the level design on top of instilling a sense of closure with having each bot wish you farewell (with their bullets). The difficulty curve of D2 does increase exponentionally towards the end, so most of the game isn't really like this.

The (MIDI) music this time around is done by one guy called Dan Wentz. In my opinion, these tracks are some of the best in the Descent canon, but as a soundtrack it's way smaller compared to Descent 1. Aside from a menu, briefing and ending theme, there's only four level themes reused throughout the game, compared to D1's 22. Though this kind of fits since the singleplayer is split up in episodes of four. Now, this comparison isn't entirely fair. D1 had a longer development time behind it and a whole team of Interplay composers, whereas Descent 2 had the development time of slightly over a year with one guy doing the music (and Mark Morgan contributing music for the cinematics). The alternative to the MIDI is the Redbook soundtrack, which delivers studio-quality industrial music certainly fitting for Descent (including some music by Skinny Puppy and Type-O Negative), though much like the D1 Redbook soundtrack I found it to be too loud for a game like this, and the MIDI songs for D2 are already pushing it. Even so, it's certainly not a bad alternative to the MIDI music.

I guess this sounds like more shitting than praising, though most of the praise I have for D2 I noted for D1 in a previous post about D1, and don't feel like repeating myself too much since D2 is in a lot of ways very identical to D1. However, I do consider D2 to be the superior game because of its superior bestiary and weapon line-up (even though the Gauss Rifle unbalances everything like hell) and more fleshed out level design. The AI's new ability to lead shots did a lot to spice up combat. Save for the weapon balance and soundtrack, Descent 2 takes everything D1 does and does it better, you can't ask more from a sequel.

There's also a PS1 port of Descent called Descent Maximum, which features its own original set of 20+ levels made to play using the Descent 2 enemy set. You can find a PC conversion of Maximum and play the levels on PC. The Maximum levels are much smaller in size and scope, probably to fit the PS1's constraints. Though small levels like these are kind of fresh after being only able to finish one level per day. I haven't finished Maximum yet, but there are some interesting levels in here, even though some of them are not that good. There's also the Vertigo expansion pack for Descent 2, which features twenty new levels and new enemies, though I haven't gotten around to playing it (or installing it, I'm having trouble finding it to begin with). I hear Vertigo is even better than the D2 campaign. I don't think I'll be able to clear all levels on Insane before Overload releases, though.


Been wondering. If you exercise your writing this way, it must serve a purpose. I yours is to become a writer for the living (or at least find one attentative reader), there will be a word limit, lineage (a rate of payment for written material that is measured according to the number of lines submitted)™, as well as expected reader's endurance to take into consideration. Ever thought that a reader curious enough about facts of game to read through all of the above would sooner just play the thing? Wishing you all of reader's time your efforts find and then some, just wondering what's your plan (none of my business really, I'm supposed to be taking care of some urgent matter about now, hence curiosity arisen).
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 12:20 am 


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Durandal wrote:
[snip]


Descent 1 & 2 are my fave FPS games and reading through all of this made me pop a gamer boner. <3

Obiwanshinobi wrote:
as well as expected reader's endurance to take into consideration. Ever thought that a reader curious enough about facts of game to read through all of the above would sooner just play the thing?


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 1:21 am 


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I've finally figured out how to record Risk of Rain and been recording some runs using my fave character, the unorthodox Miner who is all about mobility and AOE damage.

I was really proud to recently record a run on Monsoon using him, with Honor/Spite/Glass and no Infusion or Drone pickups which make things too easy.

And here's a proper response to the Descent 2 stuff above:

Durandal wrote:
Probably in response to untermensch complaining about the levels in D1 being too complex


It's a shame the game isn't as widely appreciated, but most people have trouble with the full 360 weightless spacial dynamics where there is no true up or down (though the levels are well designed in that there's almost always a common floor texture and ceiling texture you can use to help navigate, and there's a detailed ingame automap).

Durandal wrote:
You might be wondering why you wouldn't want to have a helper always showing you the correct path in the level other than posing a challenge for yourself, and the reason for that is that the Guide-Bot is an annoying piece of shit.


Oh my gosh, yes. When he's smacking you with flares it's quite irritating. He's definitely helpful for new players, especially when you learn to use the commands to order him to look for various things, but even when you give him the command to keep the heck away from you he tends to be distracting and noisy when you wander into the area he's run from. I sometimes wish the "go away" command just sent him back to his cage instead of a room far away from you but still close enough to be recalled speedily.

Durandal wrote:
There's also a peculiar bug in the sourceport where it crashes if you blow up certain enemies with a missile if you told the Guide-Bot to go away.


What source port do you use? https://www.dxx-rebirth.com/ is the one I play with - it's intended to feel as closely as the original as possible, no fancy textures or graphical changes, a nice clean playable version on modern operating systems.

Durandal wrote:
The AI is still devious and unpredictable as ever with each enemy having its own distinct behavior, some perform hit and run attacks, some hang out in the back, and some aggressively rush you.


The AI in general also feels much more aggressive and intelligent. I'd say it's generally harder than the first game because of this. The bosses too are brutally fun to fight! They did a fantastic job with the enemy AI, and it's amazing to see such a complex game for the MS-DOS era.

Durandal wrote:
To me the ideal solution would be to let the player destroy matcens (like in Overload) and skip the boring spawnkilling phase entirely.


I thought that the matcens had a spawn limit based on the difficulty mode (like X number of waves depending on difficulty, Insane on D2 might be infinite)? I could be mistaken though, and I agree that they're a bit of a nuisance to deal with especially when it's an area you have to backtrack in. If you could shut them down by either destroying them directly or finding a switch in the level that could be fun.

Durandal wrote:
Descent 2 does not have the fucking Red Hulk or Class 1 Driller


FUCK BOTH THOSE ASSHOLES. The homing missiles are nearly impossible to shake on D1 even with trichording (moving in three axes at once, the fastest way to move in D1), and the afterburner in D2 is really nice for convenience to avoid this sort of thing. The D1 Driller may be the nastiest example of a hitscan enemy in a first person shooter ever. Basically the only way to deal with Drillers is to memorize where they are and hit them with homing missiles or smart missiles (they have astonishingly low health and a single homing downs them thankfully).

Durandal wrote:
A better idea would have been to not make the switch destructible and infinitely triggerable so you can always try again to open the door.


This would have been the best way to do it for a lot of the puzzles that you normally only have once chance to find the door when you hit the switch... It's especially annoying when it turns into trial and error gameplay for stuff like ones where the switch opens something far, far away that isn't obvious and you'll never see again. Hit it once early on out of curiosity, and poof, gone is your chance to access the secret (a good example is the early Helix Cannon you get by firing a guided missile at a switch far, far down a corridor). You basically get in the habit of avoiding switches until the area is actually clear...

Durandal wrote:
While this does make the progression feel more coherent and regularly introduces new enemies even up to the very end, the levels themselves might end up feeling visually repetitive whereas D1 was full of surprises for what the next level would look like


This was one thing I disliked about D2 too - I wish the levels had more variance in terms of the colours and designs in each one. I get they were going with themes for each group of levels, but I preferred the more widely varying designs used from level to level in D1 for the textures.

Durandal wrote:
As an alternative to the Plasma Cannon you have the Phoenix Cannon, whose projectiles bounce off walls and can be used to hit enemies around corners, but it also drains more energy than the Plasma Cannon does.


And you can hit yourself with the Phoenix Cannon, which is the main reason it's not a general purpose weapon to spray around. Also sucks up all your energy really rapidly.

Durandal wrote:
The Fusion Cannon in particular has been nerfed rather hard in D2, it's nowhere as powerful as it used to be.


Too hard I'd say. That's one complaint I have - the D1 weapons don't feel super impressive anymore and they feel like weaker compromises until you get the real goodies, the D2 upgrades. Super Laser's efficiency and damage also makes it very, very usable over most of the energy hungry power weapons.

Durandal wrote:
The Vulcan had its niche in D1 for being hitscan but comparatively low damage, but the Gauss Rifle completely triumphs over anything else, which is a shame.


The Gauss Rifle also has area of effect blast damage. It's relatively minor when you hit yourself with it, but it's damaging enough that even if you miss shots, the blast will slightly damage and disorient any nearby robots. A rapid fire explosive cannon that doesn't drain energy you can use for your shields now, yeah, it's pretty ridiculous. But it IS damn fun to use, and the energy guns do still serve a purpose (especially when you get good at Phoenixing stuff from afar).

Durandal wrote:
The new missile types are more balanced at least.


It's also tough when Flash Missiles are used against you to blind you. They don't do much damage, but the followup attacks while your screen is badly whited-out can be really nasty! I actually love Guided Missiles and think they're amazingly fun to learn to use (you can press the Fire Missle button immediately after launching one to cancel guidance and it'll act like a standard homing missile, so you don't need to use them with guidance if you don't want), but yeah, the puzzles that involve shooting them through grates are a bit fiddly. Puzzles that were simply "find the secret door" were more basic, but didn't affect the level pacing as much as the complex puzzles in D2.

Durandal wrote:
Then there's the fucking Thief-Bot.


I hate Thief-Bots and think they are a detriment to the game. There's one in nearly every level, and when you trigger a Thief-Bot, you basically have to deal with it immediately before you progress into the level, unless you want to repeatedly have your stuff stolen from you as it comes up behind you at lightning speed and flies off again. I always, ALWAYS deal with it as soon as I see it, and try to corner it in such a way that I can kill it and then actually play the level without having to worry about having my weapons stolen mid-fight.

If it only had a small amount of health and you could dump some proximity mines to kill it then Thief-Bots wouldn't be so bad, but the things are tanks and take a ridiculous amount of hits to kill, are extremely mobile, and are almost as much of a nuisance as Red-Hulks and Drillers in D1 were. Almost. Thankfully it can be cornered and smacked repeatedly with weapons, but you have to be careful when chasing it not to be lead into an unexplored area with enemies to run into...

The Thief-Bot should have only popped up in a handful of levels as a novelty enemy, but instead, he's in every level like your Guide-Bot, where he gets old and obnoxious really quick. Fuck the Thief-Bot.

Durandal wrote:
The teleporting shtick is too random for it to be really fair, there's nothing preventing from the boss teleporting behind you or in your face, with no way to reasonably defend yourself against it. The first two fall into "shoot at it until it dies" territory while the rest fall into "cheese or die"-puzzle boss territory.


On lower difficulties the bosses are fun without being too bad (though fuck the one that just is randomly resistant to Vulcan/Gauss for whatever reason), but yeah, their mechanics don't work all that well on Ace or Insane where it's really silly to have one teleport in your face. Would've been preferable to see some bullet-hell style dodging for bosses where they actually fire patterns of dodgeable attacks rather than it being a cat-and-mouse game of tagging them from afar behind cover.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 2:17 am 


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On a mecha kick right now. Popped in Virtual On [Saturn]. Still brilliant.
I kinda wish it had just a few more home mode options. I really wish I still had friends who played the game [nearly none of the people I hang with these days are good at vs anything].

Also, Gundam vs Gundam NEXT Plus [PSP]. Good shit, although sometimes I still just desperately wish I was playing VO instead.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 4:10 am 


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Was there any Virtual-On ports that allowed local splitscreen similar to the Armored Core games?
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 4:17 am 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Was there any Virtual-On ports that allowed local splitscreen similar to the Armored Core games?


If I remember correctly, the DC version of the VOOT had local splitscreen. Too bad that feature is missing from the 360 version.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 6:43 am 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Was there any Virtual-On ports that allowed local splitscreen similar to the Armored Core games?

Pretty much all of them. IIRC, even Marz has local multi, not that you'd want to play a hack-job version of Force anyway.

BrianC wrote:
If I remember correctly, the DC version of the VOOT had local splitscreen. Too bad that feature is missing from the 360 version.

Wait, really? Fuck.
I know Force on 360 has it, at least.
shame that game's so fucking slow
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