The 90’s were to First-Person-Shooters like the 80’s were to action movies: Over the top mindless violence with absolutely ridiculous amounts of ammunition just lying around for the taking. One of the more underrated FPS games I played in High School was Descent. This was a pretty advanced game for its time – 6 axis of motion, true 3D polygon enemies at a time when every other FPS used 2D sprites, the ability to play with up to 8 players over LAN and be able to join and leave games already in progress. The action was pretty fast paced, requiring you to have the reflexes of a hyperactive 12 year old. There were 10 different weapons (5 primary & 5 secondary) and tons of ammunition for everyone.
One of the things that I liked about many of these games in the 90’s was that they had tools to allow players to create their own levels – for Descent, there was Devil. I never mastered the ability to create them but the internet was flooded with all kinds – many of them were really good. The biggest site I found for Descent levels at the time was pooterman.com. You could browse through and download each level individually zipped which was great since dial-up internet was the only way to get online. Some of the more popular levels were Mega-Death, Minerva, and Total Chaos but the one that I remember most was the Battledrome. It was intended for large multiplayer deathmatches and was huge with secret passages, hidden areas, and a huge dome in the center of it all. We used to go to one of the computer labs at school to play each other when it was lunch time – it got pretty competitive at one point. Not bad for an old game that ran great on pre-Pentium systems but, we’re not in the 90’s anymore and nobody runs DOS on 486’s.
We are, however, in the year 2012 and some people who remember the nostalgia of Descent have taken to upgrading the game – increasing the resolutions, the options and making it play perfectly on modern equipment with newer Windows versions while, at the same time, keeping the original spirit of the game. Descent Rebirth is not the only project to pull an old-school game out of the stone ages and give it a new coat of paint; Doom Legacy and eDuke32 are some other homebrew game engines that pander to that kind of nostalgia.
I used to keep all my old screenshots of my games and any demos that I recorded (yes, Descent even had the option to record demos) but a virus back in 1999 caused me to lose much of that data. I only have 2 demos left of Descent that I was able to pause at points and take some really good screens for you to see. These were taken with the resolution of 1280X1024 (I had to reduce them further to 800×640 because the files got too big).