Run-of-the-mill Descent clone with a plot.
Visceral had created their first game, Defiance, as a blast-fest with a plot. Initially conceived as a clone of Descent, the game eventually morphed into an oddly appealing mix of Descent and Doom. While not exactly original, the plot of Defiance is at least noticeable through scripted dialogue. During a training exercise for a new one-man hover-fighter, violent mutant creatures start rampaging across a military research facility, beginning a trial by fire for the new pilot which happens to be you. The story unrolls via comm chatter from characters who are trying to figure out where these nasty creatures came from.
Graphically, the game doesn’t break any new ground outside of the maximum supported resolutions (which are impressively high for 1997). The 3D engine’s level of complexity rivals that of Quake, and it supports 3D acceleration via Direct3D. Unfortunately, the engine wasn’t originally created with 3D acceleration in mind, so all it really does is smooth textures and improve the frame-rate. There are some nice effects though, with decals, atmospheric lighting and transparent surfaces.
Overall, the level design of the game is well done, though at times the designers go a little too far with alien ambushes. There are 13 single player levels in Defiance, and most are quite large and maze-like. There are some tricky action-based “puzzles,” but a lack of an in-game map makes them even more difficult since the levels can be difficult to navigate. But by far the biggest downer is the limited saving, which can be done only in specially designated save stations, or by using a save-anywhere cheat code.
In the end, Defiance is an entertaining and involving shooter that plays out like a lame science fiction movie. While offering little new, technically speaking, the good controls and well designed levels go a long way to making the game’s shortcomings seem less noticeable.
System Requirements: Pentium 66 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, 20 MB HDD, Win95