So does the latest installment in the series push the envelope at all? Most definitely. In fact, the most amazing technical feat of Descent 3 is one that many users will take for granted and never even notice. What is it? Descent 3 will be the first 3D FPS action game to utilize two entirely different graphics engines. One is used to render the outdoor levels and one will render the indoor scenes. In the first Descent, you were restricted to the insides of the various mines, for close quarters fighting. A recent Descent game, called Freespace, was set in outer space for completely free movement. Descent 3 will meld two engines together in a seamless fashion. Fly from inside to outside, or outside to inside and you won't notice a thing. No hesitation, hiccups, or lag.
Notice the scorch marks in the floors and ceilings
Now, doing the indoor/outdoor thing might seem trivial, particularly if they've seen how smoothly Tribes can render indoor and then vast outdoor scenes. However, it seems that the Descent 3 team chose this solution because they can optimize the graphics differently for the different areas. The outdoor engine features a more true flight sim feel, with factors such as wind and precipitation affecting your control You'll also be treated to tesselation - the ability to scale detail on an object depending on processor load and distance from the player. This technology helps prevent jumpiness and laggy gameplay.
Same pic with the headlight on. Stillshot doesn't
do this justice. You have to see it in motion.
The indoor engine features gorgeous lighting effects. You'll notice glare off shiny objects, such as your own cockpit. In the screenshots throughout this preview, try and spot the subtle glare effects just to the left and right of center. These represent the glare that you'd find on the curved glass of your ship's cockpit. You'll also notice that lighting along objects gives a smooth gradient for more realistic and less blocky appearance. Turning on your headlights (yes, your ship has headlights) will demonstrate the effect. It all comes together to make Descent 3 one of the prettier 3D games available.