“Descent II” fixes some of the issues with the first game (mostly length and Boss variety) but is weaker in almost every other way. It is still a good game that I’d recommend but it is more flawed than the first game. It did come out in 1996, a year after the first game so I think it was most likely rushed given some of the flaws. I’ll get more into what I mean further in.
The game was created by Parallax Studios and released by Interplay Productions.
The story picks up with the mercenary from the first game, the Material Defender being forced to warp into deep space by Dravis and the PTMC or forfeit his reward as he must clear out their deep space mines.
The World – This game opens up the world of “Descent” and does so in a compelling way. First we have deep space and an experimental warp drive and finally aliens as the last planet is a space ship. Your warp drive also is destroyed on your arrival home fully setting up PTMC as the main enemy moving forward.
Guide-Bot – I had issue with how complicated some puzzles and maps were in the first game and the Guide-Bot fixes that as it guides you to where you need to go next. The bot isn’t smart so you do need to find ways to open passages and doors but it pushes you along if you ever feel stuck. It is a neat bot.
The Gameplay – The gameplay is just as fun as the first game and there are new weapons to that add more strategies for defeating bosses and enemies. Some bosses are only vulnerable to certain weapons or only when shot in certain areas that adds another level of fun to the game.
The Boss Variety – There are 6 bosses and each of them are themed around the type of planet they are on. You have a “Red Boss” (level 4) in the classic mines a “Water Boss,” (level 8) “Fire Boss” (level 12) “Ice Boss” (level 16) and 2 Alien Bosses (levels 20 and 24). The hardest for me were the “Ice Boss” who blinds with flash missiles in his dark map and the last boss who has Earthshaker Missiles and can only be hurt from the back. This variety was better than the only 2 bosses in the first game though these were all much easier than most of the first games bosses.
Enemy Difficulty and Variety – This game is substantially easier than the first game. I didn’t feel challenged by any single enemy units until the final planet and there are no enemies as difficult as the larger Hulks and Drillers of the first game. This was where the game felt rushed and even enemy designs are more simple than the first game though they still feel like they are of that same world so not putting them as a con.
Boss Difficulty – There are more bosses and most are easy. Even the boss on level 20 isn’t hard it just sucks the world it is on takes your energy. The fact that only 2 bosses were memorable in difficulty after how hard the only 2 bosses in the first game are it is definitely a step down.
Soundtrack – While the other soundtrack has a calm and haunting ambiance this game is much louder. It feels like it is trying to take metal meets sci. fi. but it doesn’t work and is distracting. The soundtrack didn’t compliment the worlds all that well which was a shame. It just sounded the same.
Cliffhanger Ending – The game ends on a cliffhanger with the Material Defender falling into the sun. It promised it would be continued. This was a mistake as there was no reason to believe it would have been able to continue. This is also my bias against cliffhanger endings coming out.
“Descent II” is step down from the first game while adding some cool things like diverse worlds and the Guide-Bot that give the universe character. It is a shame that the bosses were mostly so easy and that hardly any of the standard enemy robots were difficult. Still, as someone who enjoys this world this is a game I return to just not as often as the first game. This game is good, the first game is a favorite.
Final Score: 8 / 10