Review: Rise of the Triad
By Joseph Christ on August 2nd, 2013 (6 comments)
I have a problem. You see, at one point I considered myself to be pretty damn good at video games. “I grew up on the stuff!” I would shout with a hubris-laden guffaw. Little did I know that Rise of the Triad would come along and send my house of cards crashing to the ground. And then, as I was left to pick up the pieces, it would mock me from a high perch, and fart in my general direction. All with giant grin on its face. You see for everything Rise of the Triad is -be it funny, fast, hard or irreverent- it's honest above everything.
Rise of the Triad
Developer: Interveptor Entertainment
Publisher: Apogee Software
Release Date: July 31st, 2013 (PC)
Rise of the Triad is nothing short of a love letter to the original 1994 classic. Put together by a small team, located all over the world, in just 1.5 years, RoTT takes the feeling of the original and distills down that alchemical brew into its vital essence. Then uses that essence to create a reinvisioning that is both fresh and deeply connected to the source material. Though the maps aren't necessarily one-to-one, the elements are all there, the weapons are there, the jump pads, the coins...all of it. But just different enough to allow both games to still stand on their own merit.
Of course, this means RoTT is a 90's shooter through in through. Movement speed can only be described as mind-wrenching, and there are secrets abound in every level. Rockets will be your primary weapon so much so that the game almost knows when you haven't used them in awhile, and begins to hand out bazooka variants like candy. Levels are sprawling, so finding secrets isn't about just discovering that one oddly marked door. Instead, the game is practically pleading with the player to use every jump pad and every ledge to their advantage. And in fact sometimes getting creative with the jumping is the only way to find some of the well-hidden secret areas.
If this was only a 90's era style shooter then we could almost end here, but it's actually more than that. Rise of the Triad is like the Twisted Sister of shooters, both being one and lampooning them at the very same time. Each level begins with a Mario World style overview, you'll be shooting enemies in half with your pistol, reloading is optional, and scattered food can be shot with your missile launcher to make it “hot food” which restores even more health.
You want story? RoTT tells you to choose one of 5 characters and go kill anything that moves. This is what it literally tells you to do, and practically mocks you for expecting anything more.
Almost all 90's shooter concepts have been taken and put through a sort of Dee Snyder machine to achieve their RoTT counterparts. It's this blistering self awareness that really makes RoTT a joy to play when all the pieces are fitting together. The ability to make fun of something only ever really carries weight when you're simultaneously doing that thing exceptionally well.
Of course there are times when those pieces are not coming together as well as they should. Rise of the Triad unfortunately is a bit of a buggy and clunky game at times. Enemies will pop out of mid air when an invisible trigger is hit, the knife button (ingeniously mapped to Q which is also a lunge, allowing the player to both lunge at an enemy and stab them with two quick keyboard clicks) is not always as responsive as it could be, and guns will sometimes refuse to fire after a knife stab or when switching weapons. Check-pointing can also be a bit shoddy, sometimes throwing you at the beginning of a level or, in the case of a level called The Room, not check-pointing correctly after particularly difficult challenges.
These challenge areas may also cause some people to recoil. They are not optional, can be exceptionally difficult and can really slow down the overall feel of the game. The developers, however, have been listening. Patches are currently in the works to address these problems, and to also tweak the game according to community feedback.
RoTT is also one of the hardest FPS's I've ever played, and it is unapologetic about it. Not only will the game throw lethal common enemies at you from the very beginning, but traps will also kill you without warning (sometimes linked to item pickups), there is no regenerating health at all, armor is rare, bosses routinely use one-hit-kills, and this is when playing the game on normal. There are two more difficulty levels above this. Luckily, RoTT takes a sort of Open Source view of gameplay, allowing the player to easily use cheats whenever they like to get past areas or to just -GASP!- have fun. Playing RoTT with cheats enabled is actually a legitimate way of playing the game unless you want to go for bragging rights. It's just as much fun flying around the levels with all the weapons and God Mode as it is ripping your hair out trying to fight your way through with only slivers of life keeping you in the game. There were multiple times where I threw off my headphones in frustration and walked away from the computer only to come back 10 minutes later for another try. The magic of RoTT is it's ability to be a well intentioned terror that you simply can't stay away from for long.
I still haven't beaten it. Without cheats I'm not sure if I ever will. But I can't stop trying.
And we haven't even gotten to the multiplayer, which features all of the crazy action of single player but with a bucket of people over the internet on maps designed for Death Match, Team Death Match and Capture the Flag. Games are lightning fast, and death comes quickly over and over and over again. It's also as addicting as it is fierce, and moments where most of the team has a rocket launcher turns the levels into a violent, explosion-laden hellscape. Actually...this is probably most of the time. To that end, levels do seem a little too small for the amount of people they can hold, and the power of the weapons available. But amongst the ensuing carnage are the inklings of an ebb and flow to combat which can be mastered in order to get the jump on other players. It's subtle, but certainly there.
The fact of the matter is there is simply no other game like Rise of the Triad out there right now. It's a 90's era shooter that makes fun of 90's era shooters, all while offering something to gamers that just want to have fun, or want some bonafide bragging rights over the internet. For a measly $15 dollars you simply can't go wrong, and with full modding tools soon to be released the developers are about to open the floodgates of its potential.
80-89%: Great - Only very minor issues get in the way of greatness.
Joseph Christ is the Reviews Editor and a Podcast Personality at 4Player. Specializing in reviews, editorials, drinking, and saying inappropriate things about gaming franchises that are beloved by millions, his satirical and sometimes edgy style offsets a more serious and penetrating substance lurking below the surface. He is also the host of the Cocktail Time Podcast. You'll follow his Twitter if you know what's good for you.
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