In the interest of full disclosure, I need to preface this review by saying I’m personally acquainted with two members of Interceptor Entertainment, the developer behind Rise of the Triad. Whether or not that affects my opinion of the game, I honestly don’t know, but the last thing I want to do is hide a possible bias. With that out of the way, let's get on with the review!
The 90s Are Alive!
Rise of the Triad is a remake of a 90s first-person shooter that isn’t well-known to those outside the PC gaming community, having been overshadowed by bigger names of the era such as Doom and Quake. There is no doubt a lot of nostalgia will be experienced by a certain crowd, but I’m not one of them. I owned five or six consoles before I got my first PC and even then, it could hardly be called a “gaming” PC.
Within two minutes of playing Rise of the Triad, I had separated a man at the torso with a smattering of pistol fire. It wasn’t a very big pistol and I didn’t send that many bullets his way. And yet now there were two of him littering the ground, entrails hanging loosely out of one end. I then shot a red barrel, because of course it would explode. What I didn’t expect was for the explosion to cook a nearby bowl of porridge, which I promptly consumed while it was still on fire. I regained health. Then I farted.
In the next area, I bounded off a spring-laden platform, which sent me sailing through an open window and directly into an enemy, who I then filled full of bullets before I had even hit the ground. Am I painting a picture for you?
The current trend in first-person shooters is to aim for some semblance of realism. I’m not talking about ARMA, which actually makes good on the promise, but shooters like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, which present themselves as military shooters and refuse to admit how silly they can be. Rise of the Triad has no problem admitting this. While Interceptor definitely takes the task of delivering a quality product seriously, every other aspect of the game, from the narrative to the mechanics, is wonderfully ludicrous.
Everything is done in the name of fun. Not to sound like a psychopath, but there is something satisfying about cutting a blood-soaked path through a group of nasty enemies. It’s fun. Videogames are fun. Rise of the Triad is fun.
Taking on the Triad
The single player campaign, which took me right around eight hours to complete, is separated into four episodes, with each episode separated into four levels. Each episode has a loose theme to it and oftentimes will deliver different enemies. Obviously I don’t want to spoil anything here, but the opposition ramps up accordingly. Being an “old school” shooter, you’ll be tearing your hair out by the time you reach the final episode.
Rise of the Triad doesn’t just emulate the shooting portion of older shooters, but brings back the platforming elements too. Unfortunately, when recreating retro first-person platforming, you’re bound to recreate the same inherent problems that have always plagued first-person platforming: it’s not fun. It was never fun. First-person platforming is sadistic and torturous. It’s an exercise in frustration. What are you people thinking? Stop encouraging this.
That being said, Rise of the Triad is 90% shooting and 10% platforming, and while there were areas that made me want to scream, they didn’t happen often enough to hurt the experience as a whole. Once those moments were gone, I was thrown right back into the thick of it and all of my platforming woes were wiped from my mind.
Once you complete the campaign, there are plenty of reasons to go back for more. Leaderboards allow you to contend with players all over the world, but if competition isn’t really your thing, there’s a whole host of secrets to be found in all of the levels. You can bring up the stats menu at any time to see how many secrets there are to find, how many enemies to kill, and a variety of other statistics. There are also cheats that can be entered into the console that affect the game in different ways, from traditional stuff like God mode and infinite ammo to more obscure things like slow motion and flying.
Taking on the Internet
Multiplayer is where the FPS veterans will undoubtedly get their kicks. I was fortunate enough to play more than a few games with a handful of Interceptor employees and other press folk. If you’re used to the pace of modern shooters, Rise of the Triad will make your head spin. It’s a chaotic bloodbath filled with explosions and more explosions. All of the weapons, power-ups, and playable characters from the single player campaign are present in multiplayer, as well as a few enemy types. The only two stats are endurance and speed, so it’s easy to pinpoint a character that suits your play style.
I feel sorry for players who are actually new to this era of shooter and are expecting to configure some sort of loadout for their character. If you want the Firestorm, which is arguably the most powerful weapon in the game, you will have to fight tooth and nail to reach it before anyone else does. That’s assuming you know where it is, of course. Familiarizing yourself with the maps is a must in a game like Rise of the Triad. One I learned where the God mode power-up was located on Castle Grounds, I made a mad dash for it at the start of each match.
Did I tell you that you can be a dog? You can get a power-up that turns you into a dog and as a dog you can bite players or unleash a devastating howl that kills everyone in your immediate vicinity. There are wings too, so you can be a flying dog if you want. You can do that.
I said it earlier, but it bears repeating, because it’s the point of the game: Rise of the Triad is fun. It’s not perfect. The platforming can be frustrating, the action can get a little too chaotic, and there are little bugs that will pop up here and there. There isn’t a shotgun either, which I was going to complain about until I learned it would be included in the first batch of DLC, which will be free.
Rise of the Triad is an absolute blast. The folks at Interceptor clearly have fond memories of the first-person shooters of yesteryear and they’ve done their best to share those memories with us. As of right now, Rise of the Triad is the best game of 2013 and $15 on Steam is a ludicrous price.