An Old-School Shot in the Dark

Rise of the Triad
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When Call of Duty Ghosts released, there was a number associated with it that was simply staggering: 20,000. It wasn’t a dollar value or number of copies sold. It wasn’t the number of people logged in the first night. It was something that showed the game’s attention to a customizable experience. It was number of loadouts possible in multiplayer.

The sheer complexity and attention to detail shows just how far video games have come, particularly the first-person shooter genre. Most of this is thanks in large part to RPG elements pervading all areas of the gaming world, offering depth and strategic elements that weren’t present in the gaming industry’s early days.

Yet that’s exactly the time period that Rise of the Triad aims to recreate as a remake of the 1994 release of the same name. Hearkening back to a much simpler time, Rise of the Triad gives gamers one object and one object alone: keep shooting.

Rise of the Triad won’t blow anyone away with its stellar graphics, innovative gameplay or outstanding depth – because it doesn’t have any of those things in it. But to judge the game based on those elements would be to miss the point. Rise of the Triad isn’t an evolution in gaming; it’s an homage to it.

The game features almost no story, simply thrusting players straight into as much fast-paced action as possible. After choosing one of the five starting characters, which essentially amount to templates for different stats in health, movement speed and accuracy, the game plops you into a military compound that’s crawling enemies who look a lot like Nazis. (As an aside, the original Rise of the Triad was intended to be an expansion for Wolfenstein 3D, hence the enemy design.)

It quickly becomes apparent that Rise of the Triad intends for you to shoot at anything and everything. That’s because the game features multiple weapons with infinite ammo and score-based system that’s geared towards players with itchy trigger fingers. The idea is to shoot as many enemies as you can as quickly as you can.

Multiple guns and a weapons-switching system that’s based on the scroll wheel makes the task at hand a simple, fluid experience. The default sensitivity lends itself to the high-octane pace too, with a simple twitch enough to turn your character almost halfway around.

What’s not simple, unfortunately, is actually picking out your targets. Graphically, the game’s limited color pallet creates a dull experience for the eyes that can be outright challenging at times. You’re more likely to realize someone’s shooting at you than you are to see them first, which isn’t a problem on a one-on-one basis. But more often than not, it’s groups of enemies, not lone rangers, who swarm out of predetermined level locations, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting players.

Level design also suffers from the bland colors, with maps looking similar to one another and repeated themes sparsely scattered throughout. There are also platforming elements that feel entirely out of place in an arcade-style, run-and-gun experience. More to the point, the platforming is so challenging and poorly done that it often takes repeated attempts just to get to a secret area, or even further in the level.

Despite the bland level design, Rise of the Triad was known for pushing the limit visually during its heyday, with ridiculous blood and gore. The remake preserves that, with utterly absurd kill animations and copious amounts of blood that, despite being cartoonish, are still pretty darn disturbing.

Yet with all its faults, Rise of the Triad still has a charm to it. To look at the game from today’s perspective would be wrong, and it’s not what Interceptor Entertainment intended. Above and beyond anything else, this is a true remake of a 90s classic. Rise of the Triad doesn’t take itself seriously because it doesn’t have to, and to do so would be missing the point. It’s a game that goes back to the shooter’s earliest days, when the focus wasn’t kill-to-death ratio but rather simple fun.

Rise of the Triad isn’t a glimpse into gaming’s past – it is gaming’s past, and it doesn’t masquerade around as anything other than that.

It gets 3 GiN gems out of 5 for being a true recreation of its predecessor, faults and all.

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