The original Rise of the Triad is a relic of the early ages of PC gaming. It didn't ask you to aim up or down, quick save every few minutes, or worry about fiddling with graphics settings. It did, however, beg you to explode, shoot, and instagib everything.
Interceptor Entertainment's 2013 remake is an earnest love letter to the original—warts and all. There are no quick saves, for example. There's no regenerating health. The game doesn't even have actual cutscenes aside from the intro. What it does have is an undeniable charm. This is Quake on steroids. Things move faster, explosions are bigger, and the giblets are greater.
You play as a member of H.U.N.T., a Special Forces unit sent to a nondescript island to investigate cult activity. The cultists, it seems, are also some sort of military force? And have rocket launchers? Honestly, it doesn't matter. You're not going to play RotT for its story, but for its retro shooter sensibilities.
RotT is a hard game that follows in the footsteps of classics like Doom. The challenge isn't in killing enemies, but in managing your health and ammo. Running out of rockets is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight—which is funny, since the melee attack is super effective. This isn't your modern, hide-and-shoot, cover-based game. Instead, you run and jump around corners with guns blazing. If you aren't covered in gore, you're not doing it right.
Multiplayer makes great use of the game's super fast pace. Having 16 players jumping around a map at hyperspeed while picking up power ups that let them fly across the map is amazing. Oh, and I'm now 100 percent sure that text-to-speech should be in every game. RotT reads out anything that anyone types into the chat, rendering multiplayer matches a mixture of chaotic fun and laugh-until-you-explode-because-you're-still-in-game action.
The most important thing about a game like this is the gunplay—it's fan-freaking-tastic. Ignore the basics like pistols and the submachine gun, and you've got an awesome selection of weapons at your disposal. A staff that shoots lightning, a flak cannon that chains explosions, a rocket launcher masquerading as a gatling gun and more.
Less positively, ROTT has one of the most needlessly frustrating campaigns that I've played in a while. There are more than a few instances where a checkpoint is placed at the start of a multi-part platforming puzzle or too far back from a particularly difficult sequence.
Rise of the Triad's biggest problem is that it's stuck in 1995. Sure, that's also its biggest selling point, but there's a reason why games like RotT aren't popular anymore. Bosses like N.M.E., Nasty Metallic Enforcer, a spinning, laser-sword wielding robot with homing missiles just aren't fun to fight. What's worse is that all of the enemies are dumb. They mindlessly funnel towards you until they're in firing range. Nazis clothed in tan roll every time they're fired upon. These are walking targets and nothing more.
For better or for worse, RotT isn't afraid of pissing you off. Breakaway floors? Check. Indiana Jones-style giant rolling balls? Check. Bosses that just won't die? Check. This game has all of the things that make old school games nearly unplayable today, but they're the reason that Rise of the Triad is an annoyingly amazing game.
At $15, this is an absolute must buy for deathmatch fans. The multiplayer is stellar although the single-player campaign is a labor of love that'll probably only appeal to nostalgic gamers. Fast-paced deathmatch games are few and far between. Fortunately, Rise of the Triad is a worthy successor to the forefathers of first person shooters.