Remember Descent? You know, the crazy zero-gravity first-person shooter that put you in the cockpit of a small ship and forced you to reenact the end of Return of the Jedi over and over again? Forsaken is, at its core, a Descent clone. But stunning graphics, a dazzling array of weapons, and above-average level design make the whole thing seem fresh.
The simple scenario sets the game on a postapocalyptic Earth. Most of the planet is in ruins, complete with loads of goodies ripe for the taking. You play a scavenger on a hoverbike, and you'll traverse military installations, nuclear reactors, refineries, temples, and more in search of gold and crystals. This may sound like a cakewalk, but Earth's automated defense systems are still intact, littering your path with all kinds of annoying drone ships, tanks, and turrets. Rival scavengers will also pop by from time to time in an attempt to take out their competition. While none of the enemies proves to be a threat on its own, their sheer numbers make the game incredibly difficult. While most of the levels are of the "just get to the exit" variety, a few are timed. The time given, however, is incredibly generous, so there's never a real race against the clock.
The weaponry in Forsaken is unique. Each weapon has three levels of power, depending on how many power pods you've found. The Suss gun is a spread-fire weapon that quickly shoots a mess of projectiles in your enemy's direction. The Trojax is a charged weapon that gains power (and sucks ammunition) when you hold down the fire button. The Pyrolite is a beautiful-looking flamethrower. Transpulse shots can bounce off walls, making them good for surprise attacks in multiplayer games. The Beam Laser simply emits two monstrous beams of death. It requires pinpoint accuracy, but it does insane amounts of damage. Secondary weapons include the Scatter missile, which causes the victim to drop all of his weaponry. The Multiple-Fire Rocket Launcher quickly spits out tons of small missiles. The Solaris homes in on its target. The Gravgon missile creates a vacuum at its point of impact, sucking enemies into its gravitational field and holding them in place for you to take out at will. The Titan is the most devastating weapon in the entire game and will frequently take you out as well if you aren't careful. There are also three different types of mines that will help you keep enemies off your tail and a nitro boost that will allow you to escape from sticky situations.
The multiplayer feature in Forsaken is well done in some ways, but in others it's a mess. The largest oversight has to be the lack of a dedicated server option, which would make it a bit easier to find a game. If you're looking for a Forsaken game on the Net, chances are you'll have to venture into a chat room and hope someone is advertising a game they're hosting. However, some of this hassle is offset by the server machine changing when necessary. If the current server quits or crashes, the game finds another suitable machine in the game and makes it the server. This makes finding a game to join a bit harder, though, as a game that started out on one IP may now be running on a different IP. Another problem, which Acclaim is working on, is that the multiplayer mode tends to crash from time to time. I frequently encountered crashes when changing levels, and on more than one occasion I became disconnected from all the other players, leaving their bikes seemingly unattended in the middle of the level. Forsaken is pretty modem-friendly, but you'll want the server machine to be on at least an ISDN line - if not a cable modem or a T1 - if you're planning to play with more than eight players.
The graphics in Forsaken look pretty good unaccelerated, but once you throw an accelerator board at it, it looks simply outstanding. Colored lighting abounds, and it really sets an appropriate mood for the game. Weapon fire is beautiful, and the shockwave generated by the Titan looks really, really good. The sound in Forsaken is also well done. There are several different characters and bike computers to choose from, resulting in a mess of different voices for power-ups and damage. A few of the characters swear, but only if the mature content is enabled from the options menu.
If you're a Descent fan, well, you probably stopped reading about four paragraphs ago and you're already halfway to the store. You won't be disappointed, especially if Acclaim can work out the multiplayer bugs. Acclaim is currently working on a Forsaken level editor that will surely extend the game's life - but the great graphics and difficult yet exciting gameplay are already enough to keep you interested for a fairly long time.