Rise of the Triad Review: An Oldschool Shooter in a New School World
Have you ever woken up one morning and thought to yourself, “Damnit self, what ever happened to all those games I grew up on? THOSE were quality games, not these Call of Duty clones that kids are forced into playing these days.” I know that's what the people over at Apogee Software and Interceptor Entertainment thought. Me? I am cynical and do not have the reverence for the past that many in the gaming industry do. It is my opinion that if a certain type of game went out of style then there is probably a good reason for it. So call me skeptical when I first heard about the revival of Rise of the Triad.
For those who do not know, Rise of the Triad was originally a first-person-shooter released in 1995—developed as a sequel to the original Wolfenstein. It was never released as part of the Wolfenstein series because of… reasons, but was released as its own standalone game. Rise of the Triad is a series that has been lost to history but it has its own dedicated following, nonetheless.
I never actually played the original Rise of the Triad; though knowing its pedigree, I can imagine what the game played like. I have fond memories of playing the other games I imagine it to be like, Quake/Doom, and I’m pleased to say that this game evoked all those nostalgic feelings that were bottled up inside. Searching for keys to open doors to advance through the stages, over the top arsenal of weapons for glorious gibbing of Nazis, open layout levels that encourage you to hunt for secrets to increase your chances of success, and an unforgiving difficulty curve all combine as an effective love letter to the roots of the first person genre.
Don’t confuse the arsenal comment to mean that a diverse array of weapons will be at your disposal in Rise of the Triad. The most disappointing aspect of the gameplay is the extreme limitation in the weapons available. Rise of the Triad divides your inventory into two types of weapons: bullet weapons and explosive weapons. The bullet weapon category is made up of a pistol, akimbo pistols, and a machine gun—all of which have infinite ammo and are extremely unsatisfying to use. The explosive category is more diverse in its range of creative bazookas, but you are limited to carrying only one weapon at a time and often the use of certain types will just as likely result in your own death as your enemies.
On the Steam page, there is a description of Rise of the Triad as “Sonic with guns!” and that is an apt description. The speed of your avatar is downright dizzying when you first turn the game on. Once you get used to the pace, the speed is not a negative in the slightest. It adds to the manic atmosphere of some of the battlegrounds and allows for easy traversal of obstacles when the inevitable backtracking occurs. Unfortunately, your speed directly hinders your ability you use any of your bullet based weapons.
As a carry-over of the classic shooters, there is no aim assist in Rise of the Triad. This is not a negative in and of itself, but when combined with the small, quick moving, enemies and your speedy movements, it makes the combat scenarios painful to play through. The game seems designed to force you into flying through the levels with a rocket launcher rather than letting you use your guns. The game is, unarguably, better when you play it the way it wants you to play it, but it is not a good mark where it makes the alternative so frustratingly bad.
It feels like a lot of the gunplay is included to mock modern shooters. As stated, all bullet based guns have unlimited ammo/infinite clips by default, but the game still includes a reload animation if you hit R (or the controller comparative). It was a novel feature at first, but when you accidentally reload while surrounded by enemies… let us just call it a negative gameplay mechanic.
The technical aspects of this game are where the real problems lie. Rise of the Triad is a very inefficient program when running. For perspective, my computer will run Bioshock Infinite on max settings without so much as a hiccup, but Rise of the Triad was constantly dropping frames. Apogee has promised that the first patch for the game will be solely optimization, but this implies that the game wasn't ready for an actual release at all.
Apart from performance issues, there seems to be a plethora of graphical and clipping issues present in Rise of the Triad. I don't know what the technical term is for it, but it was very common for dead bodies and scenery to rubber band out of control and on a few occasions I found myself clipping through scenery. All of this speaks of a game that lacks polish and proper QA testing.
- Gunplay and gameplay are at odds
- Inefficient/glitchy gameplay
- Relies on nostalgia to hold your interest
+ Classic shooter gameplay
+ Fast, intense combat
+ Potentially large amounts of user generated conent
Rise of the Triad is a game that wants to reach for the nostalgia of gaming in the 90’s. It is not a perfect game, but I think it accomplishes that goal. For me, the sheen wore off quickly. The game started off as amusing but eventually, once the nostalgic feelings wore off, it grew tedious. If you thinking of trying out Rise of the Triad, it is this reviewer's opinion that you at least hold off on your purchase until the developers have a chance to sort out all the technical issues plaguing this game.
There is a bright spot for the future of this game. The developers will be releasing the tools to enable fans to create their own content. It could be that revisiting this game in a few months could illicit a completely different reaction than playing it today.