Rise of the Triad Review

Poor optimization and a slog of a single-player campaign hobble this fast-paced shooter.

Apogee Software's Rise of the Triad: Dark War was an incredible first-person shooter in 1994. Lead designer Tom Hall and his team created a game that was both innovative and absurd.You could choose from different characters with different stats (height, endurance, and speed). There were the insane weapons, such as a rocket launcher that created a wall of fire that moved forward and incinerated everything in its path. Also, there was a power-up that could turn a character into a dog. Almost 20 years later, Interceptor Entertainment has remade Rise of the Triad, bringing back all of the weapons, enemies, bosses, and insane power-ups that made the original memorable. Unfortunately, this budget game's tedious single-player campaign is full of endless jumping puzzles, and an unforgiving checkpoint save system, poor optimization, and a dearth of multiplayer features hamstring the competent competitive action.

What, no giant lizard turtle king waiting at the end?

The new Rise of the Triad throws out the conventions of the modern first-person shooter in favor of a retro approach. Forget reloading, because ROTT's firearms have unlimited ammo. Health does not regenerate; instead, characters walk over food. (ProTip: "cooking" food with explosions equals more health.) There are no cinematic set pieces, but plenty of keys to hunt down. The one modern convention is that the MP 40 submachine gun and the pistol now have iron sights, but thanks to ROTT's high-capacity magazines, precision is rarely a concern. While ROTT's single-player is fairly linear, it at least offers several secret areas for you to uncover.

Then there is the game's sense of humor. ROTT is utterly ludicrous. Mission briefings usually consist of statements like, "We heard lava hurts people, so you probably shouldn't step in it." Power-ups do things like turn a character into a dog capable of killing enemies six feet away with a single bite. Conversely, there are power-downs, such as magic mushrooms that alter characters' perceptions and lead them to ruminate about how "everything is like music, man." The gore is comically over the top. For instance, shooting a man with a pistol can make him explode, and occasionally an enemy's eyeballs pop out of his head and hit the screen.

Boss fights are a welcome respite from endless environmental puzzles.

Unfortunately, the single-player campaign has some problems that can be a major buzz-kill. For starters, ROTT uses an unforgiving checkpoint save system. One particular sequence places you in a room dominated by a perpetually circling array of blade-covered blocks. Next is a room with a half-dozen rocket-launcher-toting goons, followed by a chamber with a bridge that rotates clockwise over an instant death pit. You must then make a harrowing leap across the pit while dodging a laser. One mistake sends you back to the blades and blocks room, screaming in impotent rage.

This is typical of the game, which features long checkpoint-free, soul-crushing segments of perilous jumps over lava pits, fireballs coming in from all directions, and false floors that dump you into spike pits. It's particularly galling when an insult-spewing narrator tells you to give up PC gaming and pick up a gamepad. There is nothing wrong with difficult games that inspire you to tough it out and get better. ROTT, unfortunately, is more likely to inspire you to quit. Thankfully, many of the original game's cheat codes work, so those interested in the fun stuff can muddle through such sequences.

Multiplayer feels a lot like Unreal Tournament: the levels are full of weapons and power-ups, and death comes quickly. Just like the single-player game, multiplayer includes various characters to choose from with different stats. In addition to the H.U.N.T. team members from the single-player game, there are new characters such as Leo "Lefty" Liebowitz, the lone Jewish member of the triad, and Bob the Skeleton, who was added because the developers "needed another player to even out the H.U.N.T. team roster and ran out of fresh ideas."

Dopefish lives!

Currently, there are five multiplayer levels. Three support only deathmatch and team deathmatch modes, and feel too cramped for a full 16 players. These are Castle Grounds, Drop the Base, and Mercury Temple. The other two maps, A Bridge Too Near and The Triad-Drome, are capture-the-flag maps that are also available for deathmatch and team deathmatch. Castle Grounds appears to be the most popular map, and it's easy to see why. It is set around a multistory exterior of a castle where jump pads and weapons of mass destruction have been left around by whatever irresponsible noble once owned the place. Castle Grounds also includes an interior dungeon, complete with a nasty spike trap that you can activate, and the all important dog power-up.

Multiplayer has a lot of potential, but it suffers from a lack of content. Currently, Interceptor promises to release free downloadable content that will probably come in the form of additional maps for multiplayer (and hopefully a return of the crazy mode in which everyone plays as a dog). Overall, multiplayer is the best part of the game, but the lack of arena variety does not bode well for retaining players.

ROTT's production values are about what you would expect from a budget game. The visual style is an unsettling hybrid of 1994 and 2013. Most of the levels merge together in a gray concrete blur permeated by overwhelming bloom and lens flare effects. The enemies are an unattractive hodgepodge of monks, tracked robots, and troops wearing surplus WWII uniforms. However, there are some bright spots. For example, the soundtrack rocks and really sets the mood for fast-paced FPS action. Additionally, there are some attractive levels that ditch underground military facilities for settings like monasteries with vibrant gardens.

The Triad really, really admires Kim Jong-un.

Alas, ROTT is marred by performance issues and bugs, like one that causes you to randomly fall through a level. It is difficult to find settings where ROTT looks attractive and runs well on a machine that blows the recommended system requirements out of the water. Strangely, the game seems to run worse after release than it did just a day or two prior. The Steam forums are full of optimization and bug complaints, but some users claim that the game is running perfectly for them. Caveat emptor.

Interceptor Entertainment's Rise of the Triad does manage to scratch the itch of any gamer feeling nostalgic for old-fashioned key hunting or those who just want an absurd, fast-paced shooter (where you can turn into a dog). While the $15 asking price makes ROTT's flaws more palatable, the sadistic single-player level design, the optimization problems and bugs, and the limited multiplayer content are major turnoffs.

The Good
Furious fast-paced gameplay
Bargain-bin price
You can play as a flying, shroom-eating version of Cujo
Dopefish is in it (look him up)
The Bad
Rage-inducing single-player checkpoint save system
Overuse of environmental hazards and jumping puzzles
Poor optimization
Few multiplayer maps or modes
5.5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Daniel Shannon still remembers the day when his family got a 486 with a CD-ROM drive. He used that PC to play an immense

Discussion

201 comments
Seriouslytriad
Seriouslytriad

Sorry for my bad english but,I want to know why story based fps and millitary fps are always overrated while oldschool fps are always underatted.People think CoD is the best fps ever just because everyone say it is.I KNOW IT WELL.They should just play serious sam.

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

"Thankfully, many of the original game's cheat codes work, so those interested in the fun stuff can muddle through such sequences."

Maybe you could just review the game while using a Game Genie while you're at it? Hell, why stop there? You could just have your older brother, who happens to be much better at video games, play it FOR you, and you can just write your review based on watching HIM play!

I have nothing against cheat codes in general, mind you, but if you can't play a game to completion without  cheating, you have no business what-so-ever reviewing said games for a living.

NightmareP3
NightmareP3

The devs of ROTT are incopetent, they just released their so called "Frame rate boost patch" and it did nothing. Broken and unplayable and from the looks of it, it'll never get fixed, stay away from this game it's by far the worst game of 2013 for me since it's compleatly broken.

DonRoosevelt
DonRoosevelt

Calling the SP campaign a "slog" just doesn't make any sense.  It's an extremely fast-paced game.  Maybe you're the slog?

Assertonsin
Assertonsin

People saying this review sucks or think this game is good well its not. Obviously the review is close to where its at seeing how the metacritic score is a 66. You people hate on this review for saying this game sucks when there are plenty of other reviews that gave it low scores.

Stardust7
Stardust7

I used to play the old version of this game when I was young lol ..so nostalgic lol

quakke
quakke

Okay, so can we like get an updated review after few weeks when that big patch has finally come to fix things? And also with some reviewer who actually has background in old-school FPS and PC-gaming? 

A reviewer who also sees that this game was not backed up by MULTIMILLION corporations like Activision/EA. It also didn't even have half the amount of devs which an AAA game has. Gameprice is also not even half of the AAA price so you cannot expect perfection. Therefore this review is incorrect and invalid.

This game is not designed for pick'n play, it's been designed for play'n get better at it (skill required).

Detriiment
Detriiment

This game seems pretty mediocre.

KFHEWUI
KFHEWUI

It is out all ready? Completely forgot about it.

Does any one know if the original game is included?

wizzzer_thy_133
wizzzer_thy_133

honestly, this is a pretty lazy game... what made oldschool games good wasn't just 20 miles per hour running and gunning with a few impossibly obscure puzzles sprinkled here and there and big giant bosses. the best games of the oldschool all had something special, something for the thinking man- and they felt SHARP.

this game just doesn't feel sharp and while yes i really admire the effort, it's just not there yet. and i find it funny that in 2013 we can accept would would be a pretty mediocre game in the 90s as some sort of "nostalgic refreshment".

i'm actually looking forward to something like the first Unreal or System Shock Quake... with everything that was good about those games, without compromise to the oldschool but a game that really is technologically up to standarts and not just a lazy throwback...

sensesfail99
sensesfail99

everything that is being complained about by the reviewer is what made games back in the 90s so much fun. yeah they were hard as hell but somehow i beat them, Over the years games have treated us like babies, oh you walked two feet let me save the game for you. I mean this is a remake of a classic game and they stuck to the classic way. Im glad that everyone doesnt like it, ROTT is only for a select few.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

So an old shooter comes along with massive game flaws and pants graphics and doesn't get a 9 and lots of people are upset. I can see now how all these shit indie games with graphics worse than SNES get a 9 just to keep you lot happy. 

Gamespot need to change and only review Commodore 64 and BBC Micro games and give every game a 10 and everyone will be happy as pigs in shit.

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

I hope the "Shadow Warrior" re-release fares better.  I don't remember playing much "Rise of the Triad", but I remember enjoying the irreverent, politically-incorrect "Shadow Warrior"!


faizanhd
faizanhd

You know , this game is more fun than The Last of Us. Call me stupid, call me a hipster. But it just is.  

deond
deond

Good review, Daniel. Buyer beware, indeed.

My take: get it if you've got a hankering for some 90s FPS action with a 2013 paint job, but don't get it if you're looking for anything that resembles a modern-day shooter.

CrysisFPS
CrysisFPS

While I agree that the optimization was bad and the checkpoint and a few level designs left something to be desired, I honestly think a 5.5 goes far too low. Game performance and level saves can easily be fixed, so it's a wonder why the review goes no more above mediocre mostly for these flaws alone. Disappointing review overall.

Jeff Prowler
Jeff Prowler

And needlessly and pointlessly harsh on games that aren't PAID FOR BY EA.

Jeff Prowler
Jeff Prowler

DIE GAMESPOT. Fire your entire staff... Including that ugly little redhead gamer Grrrrrrrl. I hope Gamespot burns.... Your reviews are non sensical

Bill Storie
Bill Storie

There are quite a few bugs, the optimization sucks and no quick saves make the jumping/environment puzzles enraging but I think it will be a fairly good game when/if it's fully patched up.

Cirno Yousei
Cirno Yousei

I think the only thing this game needs is better optimization. Should the game be better optimized, I imagine that the jumping puzzles would be less of a problem.

Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews

I love this game, doesn't take alot to tweak the game to run perfectly on my system and still look good. Check out my videos on youtube - madmatt667

3v1LR0n1N
3v1LR0n1N

an "older style" FPS game getting a low score on GS... not really surprised -_- i personally give this game a 8.5 for being a reasonably priced, nice looking, fast paced, no holds barred old school styled FPS that is faithfully recreated (mostly lol) and just plain ol fun... maybe i just miss those kinds of FPS games

Erik Swanson
Erik Swanson

like Duke Nukem forever people expected way to much from the game. Both this and DNF are good for what they are, over the top,stupid fun and meant for people who played the original back in the 90s. I preorderd this on steam and ive had a blast with it so far. It has bugs and a almost unfair learning curve, but in my eyes its Rise of the Triad in its true form here.

Colin Miller
Colin Miller

Funny how all these "mediocre" games on gamespot are always more enjoyable and memorable than the generic Military tactical fps. Old-school fps games were more creative.

DonRoosevelt
DonRoosevelt

@NightmareP3 Ignorance is bliss, ain't it!?  

Keep up with the game, chum... Smile.  They're hard at work on it.   This newer studio, comprised of a small team, put out a game with fewer bugs than the average Bethesda or Netherrealm Studios games, so mind your manners.

Ever think that perhaps your hardware is the issue, and not the game itself?  I run it fine on two entirely different machines from different generations, so the issues lie elsewhere.



Hellbishop
Hellbishop

@NightmareP3 Yes sadly this is nothing like the 1990s classic even if the patches fix everything it will still be mediocre at best. This and the horrible unplayable remake of REALMS OF ARKANIA by many ex members of JoWood (Gothic series) has resharpened my budgeting skills to do better research before purchasing a game.

Guess I will go back and play BORDERLANDS 2 for some real mentally disturbed fps satisfaction :D

DonRoosevelt
DonRoosevelt

@Assertonsin Did you play it? Did you love the original ROTT? Reviews don't matter to the individual player.

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

@quakke i think it's pretty ridiculous that they came up with "bob the skeleton" just cuz they NEEDED another character and were "out of ideas."  If those are the issues that your awesome indie developers are dealing with, they're obviously gonna come out with a substandard game. often i have been prone to the nostalgia train, but this looks like trash...why force it upon yourself? or even worse. try to convince others? what's so great about this game that the reviewer missed? maybe if you enlightened people on why instead of just bashing the reviewer for not rating the game higher because it's not a triple A title, you would make more sense and get your point across..

Biotasticmeat
Biotasticmeat

@D'amore Maurizio It would make since for a crap console to get a crap game.

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

@CrysisFPS anything in a pc game can be "fixed." does that mean the reviewer should rate them that way? of course not, that doesn't give the buyer an accurate description of what they're interested in..and it's not fair to the devs who work hard to put out a bug-free game on launch, if every game was rated on how good it was GONNNA be...well may as well just stop there as you can probably see how ridiculous that sounds

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

@DonRoosevelt @wizzzer_thy_133 are you one of the devs or something? cuz judging from this comments section, it seems that you've taken it upon yourself to discredit those who don't like the game...

CrysisFPS
CrysisFPS

@wizardboyus @CrysisFPS While I agree that reviews must be contemporary to the release, this is not a GTA4 PC Port that we are talking about. This is a game which in my experience only had minor glitches now and then, which I already experience in many other titles.

Another thing, rushing a game is not usually the fault of the developer but rather an impatient publisher. Does that mean we should lump it all the developer? If the game can be easily patched then that must mean that the game isn't THAT badly optimized. Few glitches, yes, but of course that's really all you need as an excuse to give the game as a whole the wrong impression.

DonRoosevelt
DonRoosevelt

@wizardboyus @DonRoosevelt @wizzzer_thy_133 

Why thank you! I would have loved to have been one of the developers for this game.  Interceptor is a talented group of folks... an indie group that spend merely a year and a half to put together this game.  It ain't perfect, but it's fun as Hell!


I'm discrediting the useless slander and banter against the game, without any objective criticism... when clearly these folks didn't play it, nor do they get the point of its creation.



Rise of the Triad More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    The 1994 shooter returns with a full Unreal Engine 3 remake featuring a classic arsenal and online modes.
    6.1
    Average User RatingOut of 76 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Interceptor
    Published by:
    Apogee Games
    Genres:
    First-Person, 3D, Shooter, Action, Team-Based
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Animated Blood and Gore