PC gamers of yesteryear had it pretty rough. I have fond memories of playing early first person shooters on my old 386. Games like Hexen, Redneck Rampage and of course, Doom. These were classic titles, no one would argue that. But by today’s standards, they’re absolutely atrocious. Shoddy controls, endless jumping puzzles, situations of inescapable death, blue keys out the wazoo – all truly horrible elements of old school game design. Thankfully, most of those tropes are largely a thing of the past and have long been forgotten. Enter Rise of the Triad (2013) all those memories flooding back, like a shit filled damn breaking, spilling its unholy contents all over my gawking face.
RoTT was originally released back in 1994 and, for its time, was fairly innovative. Graphics were smooth, weapons were insane and the gore factor was out of this world. Almost 20 years later and we’ve just been handed the ‘gritty Dark Knight’ reboot – let me tell you, some things are better left in the past. The new Rise of the Triad throws out modern first-person shooter conventions in favour of a retro approach. You won’t be given informative cut scenes, emotional content or big budget set pieces. Instead, you’re simply thrust onto a strangle island crawling with hostile pseudo Nazis and told to get to work.
Forget reloading, guns have infinite ammo. Don’t worry too much about health, miracle-cure-all roast chicken litters the ground. And don’t even think about reaching for context sensitive items to traverse terrain, you’ve got keys to hunt down. RoTT truly is a throw-back to the games of old. Unfortunately, that means all the aforementioned piddling crap design elements come too. Levels are exceptionally liner. Not a problem in itself, The Last of Us was pretty damn linier and we gave it a 10. The problem lies in the game’s checkpoint system. I’m not sure what word or saying best describes just how bad said system is, but the first thing that comes to my mind is “worse than Hitler”.
Here’s a basic set up – and this applies to any given level. Navigate a room full of moving platforms suspended over an insta-death lava pit, face off against 12 or more rocket-wielding foes, dodge a laser while jumping to avoid false floors and then speed run your way through a room swarming with moving cylindrical blocks covered with spikes. One slip up, one false move at any point along the way and it’s back to the moving platforms to start all over again. I have, literally, never been so frustrated in all my life and I’m the poor sap who reviewed Aliens: Colonial Marines. Well done Rise of the Triad. You have successfully out-shat one of the worst games of all time. On top of that, you also have a number of technical issues to contend with. Including but not limited to; falling through the floor, clipping through random objects, suddenly becoming stuck, getting shot at from enemies INSIDE walls, screen tearing. You name it and you’ll basically encounter it in RoTT.
So with all the technical problems and general gameplay rage, what is there to enjoy? Well, when you’re not stomping fools with your Doc Martins in an effort to vent frustration, you may get a slight giggle from the game’s quirky sense of humour. Shoot an enemy with a bullet weapon and he’s liable to explode, spewing giblets all over the screen. Grab a power up and get turned into a dog. Grab yet another power up and get turned into a flying dog on acid.
Moments like these do warrant a bit of a smile but what’s one smile out of 99 rage stompings? Level to level you’ll be doing nothing but running, gunning, and jump failing you way through the same section 20 times over. Sound like fun?! Outside of the main campaign, RoTT does offer a multiplayer mode and supports up to 16 players. I have a hard time believing 15 other people will buy this game, so I can’t exactly account for longevity.
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