Rise of the Triad Review: Reboot masterpiece

Almost 20 years ago, I was working at a video store with some friends who were as into video games as I was. In fact, James, one of our buddies, had a six node LAN setup in his basement and often after work, him, Shawny, Ryan, John and myself would head over to his place, throw on Rise of the Triad: Dark War and play until the “chirpy chirpy” of the birds in the morning. These late night ROTT sessions became our regular nightly activity and we collectively logged hundreds of hours trashing each other with hilarious weapons like the Excalibat, a variety of rocket launchers and ridiculous power ups like Dog and Mushroom modes. These were the good times…no, they were great times.

ROTT wasn’t a complicated game with a convoluted storyline, it was a really simple reflex shooter that tested our skills against each other in maps like Deathbox and separated the men from the boys. It wasn’t for the light at heart, it was full on adrenaline-filled mayhem.

So when the Editor-in-Chief asked me to review Interceptor’s reboot of the Apogee classic, I jumped at the opportunity to install this bad boy and see how true it was the original, and whether or not it would live up to the cult classic reputation.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

Background

Rise of the Triad is the extremely faithful reboot of the cult classic 90′s shooter Rise of the Triad: Dark War and the first game by Interceptor Entertainment. Developed in just 18 months by a team of 30 headed by Frederik Schreiber, the Interceptor team say they brought back Rise of the Triad “for no good reason”, but you can immediately tell from the moment the game launches, these are pretty hardcore fans of the original.

The Game (Single-Player Campaign)

Rise of the Triad takes place on a remote island where you choose to play as one of the members of H.U.N.T. (High Risk United Nations Task Force) – each with different play styles and strengths – to take on over 20 of levels of single-player gameplay spanning four episodes. Enemies range from lower guards to bosses and have their own unique abilities and skills. Some guards will steal weapons from you or shoot you with a net to which you’ll have to use your knife to escape.

Secret areas are everywhere, and I found myself replaying levels to find the secrets I had missed, just because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found even half of the hidden areas.

There’s no screwing around here – you are going to die. A lot.

Each episode has a few levels before ending up with a challenging boss fight. You want to survive? You gotta move, and while there are lots of hidden areas as I mentioned, this is not a stealth campaign in any capacity. You run, you pick up big guns, you shoot them a lot, you win. It’s as simple as that. Adam Jensen wouldn’t last a minute here. Corvo who?

Even on the easiest setting, the gameplay is so fast and furious, you will find yourself taking breaks to give your eyes a rest from all the action on the screen and your hands will need a break from the mouse and keyboard. If you’ve played games like Super Meat Boy, you’ll appreciate the importance of repetition and muscle memory because the checkpoint system will throw you back so far if you eat it that you find yourself playing almost entire levels again and again.

To be honest, this is the ONE and ONLY single issue I had with the game – that you get placed so far back after dying that mid-level checkpoints would be appreciated – but maybe I had to just stop playing like a baby and get my act together.

Maps are well designed and thoughtful, filled with unique puzzles and quests for keys to open different areas so you’ll get around the terrain pretty fast. Switches open doors and drop catwalks, while floor pads propel you around the zones like Sonic the Hedgehog after a pile of rings. Environmental dangers like fireball cannons and spinning blades make their return from the original, and you’ll want to make sure you heal yourself with plenty of scattered monk meal and priest porridge in order to survive.

At the time of press, I hadn’t finished the campaign, but I was fully enjoying it and intend on finishing the whole thing without using any of the ample amount of cheat codes that are supplied by Interceptor.

Multiplayer

Rise of the Triad will be remembered a multiplayer game. It’s why it was made.

Yes, there is a cool campaign that will hone your skills and allow you to master most of the game mechanics, and I highly recommend you play through a significant amount of the campaign before you hit the multiplayer servers, because there are some formidable opponents out there waiting to blow your ass to pieces.

Maybe it was being in Singapore, that I didn’t get a chance to play on the servers with many opponents as much as I would have liked to, but the times where I did get into a server with challengers, I enjoyed myself tremendously. Maps are huge, and plenty of weapons, armour and power ups are scattered around the area to give you a decent chance at surviving. It was rewarding as hell to chase down an opponent in Dog Mode and chew him to pieces, and it was a thrill to try and avoid an opponent who was firing rockets past my head, only to be obliterated by another dude with some crazy ass launcher that destroys everything with secondary explosions.

Many of the weapons have alternative-fire options, so get to know which ones do pretty quickly – it could be key to your survival.

When the game launches on Steam and GOG, I’m expecting to see tons of servers out there with a variety of game options (CTF, Deathmatch, etc.) and I’m fully expecting to see Rise of the Triad become the next Quake Arena or Unreal Tournament.

It’s just that good.

Video

Rise of the Triad has a pretty advanced launcher that allows you to customize just about every graphic option imaginable. Running the game on low settings will allow you to play on the lowliest laptop, while higher end PC’s will be able to max out their GPUs with graphics settings that include PhysX, motion blur, lens flare and bloom. Running the game on a single monitor at max settings showed a little frame rate drop when I was using God-Mode, so to keep the FPS at a consistent breakneck pace, I played mostly on Medium settings.

A multitude of video resolutions are available for gameplay, and by enabling cheats and running the SETRES command, I easily configured Rise of the Triad for three monitors. While the FOV was slightly messed up, I adjusted the FOV slider to the end and found the game totally playable without the need for a HUD. I’m hoping that future patches by Interceptor offer more native resolutions for multi-monitors, but the good folks at WSGF and Flawless Widescreen will come up with a fix sooner or later.

Audio

In their infinite wisdom, Interceptor has recruited Lee Jackson (composer of the original ROTT soundtrack) to act as a consultant with Andrew Hulshult, who is scoring the tunes for the reboot, and it fucking works. From the original Apogee fanfare remixed with the hard driving update, the soundtrack for ROTT acts as a perfect compliment to the updated gameplay. Fans will appreciate how the remastered tracks work with the ludicrous speed of the game, and if you’re in the mood to get even more nostalgic, you can throw a code in to play with the original audio – if you’re a fan, you’ll appreciate this as one of the most outstanding features of the reboot and this alone deserves a tip of the hat and a genuine thanks.

Music aside, all the other treats are included. The moaning in God Mode, the barking dog in Dog Mode, the voice actors throwing in lines when they pick up weapons or frag enemies – it’s all back. One of the features I loved when playing through was hearing Lorelei Ni shouting in Chinese when she picked up weapons, and she swears her head off. Loved it.

In multiplayer mode, you have a really cool feature when sending messages to players where a voice emulator reads your message out loud – that’s actually really smart for a game that forces you to concentrate pretty hard on what’s in front of you, instead of being distracted by messages popping up at the top of the screen. Brilliant move.

Lastly, all the taunts and teases are back as well, with the game telling you that “You Suuuuuck” if you get killed often enough, and the little QUIT GAME options of driving the car off the cliff, or flat lining are back as well.

Easter Egg Gallery

Rise of the Triad is fully an adult game. Every little detail has been put into easter-eggs and adult-oriented visuals that are both funny to see and fun to explore and find. I’ve attached a few screenshots below to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Final Notes

If you have played the original ROTT, and were a fan, you will be astounded how “extremely faithful” this reboot really is. While Interceptor has certainly added new elements to the game and created something pretty unique, they do this with so much reverence and respect to the original, you sometimes have to remind yourself you aren’t actually playing the 1993 classic. Every little detail is replicated and recreated here: the hovering discs, the coins, the injured enemies begging for mercy – it’s quite incredible how seamlessly Interceptor has merged the old and the new to create what can simply be described as a reboot masterpiece.

It was a real pleasure to play (replay) Rise of the Triad, and Interceptor deserves every bit of credit they get for rebooting an all-time classic in the FPS genre.

Final Score: 9/10 (You owe it to yourself to get a copy)

My next step will be rounding up the old Jumbo Video crew and seeing if we can’t relive some of our youth.

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A review copy of Rise of the Triad was provided to us by Interceptor Entertainment in the form of a Steam Key. We ran the game on an i7-3770 PC with an Nvidia GTX670 and 16GB of RAM. Multi-monitor support through Nvidia Surround.

Rise of the Triad is set for release today (July 31) on Steam, GOG, Green Man Gaming and the Apogee Store. Price is $14.99 and it’s fully DRM Free on GOG.com and The Apogee Store. Dedicated servers and LAN/IP play are available (meaning you don’t have to have an internet connection) and it is 100% moddable with free DLC.