2Since 3D accelerators have become mainstream, games full of lighting effects, fancy textures and lots of glowing things have become commonplace. The backstory in Forsaken, a Descent clone if there ever was one, is nonessential, yet once you’ve taken your first spin, you’ll hardly care about any of that. You take the role of a high-tech space looter complete with an armed hovercraft, and your mission is to find gold bars in the claustrophobic innards of the Earth.

The 3D menu interface is slick and pretty, hinting at the graphical richness to come in actual play, and it offers a good level of customizability over most aspects of the game. First you’ll want to set up your controls. Every control can be tweaked and re-mapped to your heart’s desire. You’ll then pick a vehicle from a handful of pre-configured hover bikes. Each offers a different combination of speed, shielding, hull strength (which deteriorates once the shields fail), and other attributes, and comes with its own biker character. The characters themselves don’t affect gameplay, but they do affect the in-game voiceovers, and some of them are really cheesy. A nice added feature would have been an option to let you build a custom bike, but no such luck.

Descent players will immediately feel right at home in Forsaken. Your bike is a free floating craft unaffected by gravity, most of your enemies are robotic, your surroundings are twisting, maze-like tunnels, and your weapons are quite different from the usual assortment of rifles and rocket launchers found in so many other shooters. Control is responsive — the extent of which depends on the bike you choose — and after a few minutes of floating around, it will begin to feel totally natural. An auto-leveling option helpfully keeps you right-side up making it easier not to get lost, but you can turn it off for total 360-degree freedom of movement.

12Your assortment of weapons comes in the form of primary beam weapons, secondary warhead weapons and mines. The primary weapons offer the coolest lighting effects and come in the form of the standard Pulsar, the shotgun-ish Suss-Gun, a fireball-spewing Pyrolite Rifle, a very cool beam laser, and more. The missile weapons are more powerful but less numerous, best used when you need a quick kill. Mines suck in solo play, but are nice to have in deathmatch.

The most common enemies come in the form of fliers, tanks, and turrets. Sometimes they get a bit too numerous, but that’s okay — that just means more brilliant explosions. The major problem with the opposition is that they often come in arcade-like waves: Waste a pack, and more of them materialize. Sometimes it’s annoyingly unfair, too. They can pop up behind you in a narrow tunnel, or next to you just out of your field of vision. That certainly makes them more of a threat than their artificial intelligence, which is slightly above par compared to the average shooter, but certainly nothing special.

Fans of Descent or just regular FPS players will have plenty to like in Forsaken’s simple, arcade combat. It doesn’t push boundries much in terms of gameplay, but then again it doesn’t have any horrible design flaws either.

System Requirements: Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95

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