If you owned a PC during the 1990s, chances are you have played an Apogee Software game. Known for their exciting yet repetitive platformer titles, the shareware giant is also known for publishing the great-granddaddy of first-person shooters: Wolfenstein 3D. Released in 1992, “Wolf3D” set the bar for the genre, spawning numerous source ports and clone games. A sequel was soon in the works for the incredibly popular game, but developer id Software thought it best to pursue something different than shooting Nazis. However, out of the ashes of this unfinished game came something even more insane than Doom.
The original Rise of the Triad was released in 1994, built on the bones of Wolfenstein 3D‘s planned sequel. The core mechanics would stay the same, but with a loose Hollywood inspired storyline, break-neck speed FPS action, and tons of levels and gnarly weapons to use. Nearly 20 years later, Interceptor Entertainment has brought the iconic cult classic back to the spotlight, with a complete visual overhaul and more mind-numbingly quick online multiplayer action.
For those already acquainted with RoTT, this faithful remake has left the best elements intact. Fans of the series will recognize their favorite levels, secret areas and nearly impossible sections of the game. Also included are the five playable campaign characters – each with their unique own stats and play style – and the various explosive, magical, and downright ludicrous weapons that the original game is known for. The revival of this classic shooter is just as balls-to-the-wall crazy as its predecessor, but in a way that truly succeeds in almost every aspect.
For new players, the blistering gameplay speed and sheer number of enemies (and weapons to dispose of them with) could take a bit of getting used to. Even seasoned arcade gamers will find the tried and true circle-strafing technique largely useless. There are no chest-high bits of wall to hide behind while a generic non-descript shield regenerates itself. You start at 100 health units, and it’s all downhill from there. Health packs are scattered throughout levels in the form of soup bowls, however – another eccentric item from the original game.
While blazing fast gameplay and high difficulty are immediately synonymous with Rise of the Triad, so too are some of the game’s other curious features. A points system is prominently displayed throughout the game, with many collectible items to obtain in each level. High scores are placed in an online leaderboard, so players can duke it out with friends and foes to reach the top. Also included are ridiculous cheat codes and game modes, including a hallucinogenic mushroom mode, god mode, and the infamous “dog mode,” transforming the experience into a first-canine shooter perspective.
Rise of the Triad also prides itself on being one of the first big online multiplayer games, its original release allowing up to 11 players simultaneously, and a plethora of game modes – arguably the first game to feature a “capture the flag” mode. Unsurprisingly, this remake also contains a fast-paced online multiplayer system, even more destructive and nonsensical than its campaign. Explosive weapons and powerups abound – like a bouncy ball mode, which will thrust players around at random – with many maps from the original game to choose from. Again, Battlefield this ain’t, so its speed and ferocity will take some getting used to.
It is the assembly of these various and ridiculous features that made Rise of the Triad a classic twitch shooter arcade game in the 1990s. With that in mind, the remake is a successful upgrade in almost every way, breathing new life into Apogee Software and introducing it to a whole new generation of gamers. The software developer was previously known for launching the classic Duke Nukem franchise, before rebranding as 3D Realms and releasing the iconic Duke Nukem 3D in 1996. In 2008, a spin-off company was formed with the hopes of returning Apogee to its former glory.
Rise of the Triad works for all of the reasons Duke Nukem Forever didn’t. It possesses a wit as snappy as its gameplay, with humor that isn’t forced or worthy of an eye roll and a facepalm. For those acquainted with its predecessor, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that gameplay and attitude have not been sacrificed one iota. New players may question some of the more outrageous weapons – like a baseball bat that launches explosive baseballs – but in the face of equally crazy titles like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, it’s very likely this game will meet with the same success.
Rise of the Triad is currently available for Windows PC, via Steam and GoG.com.
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