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LGR – Rise of the Triad – DOS PC Game Review


[MIDI rock music] [typing] Looking back at awesome first-person
shooters from the early-to-mid-’90s, several come to mind immediately. Wolfenstein 3D. Doom. Duke Nukem 3D. Tek War. Wait… no one thinks of Tek War.
How’d that get in here? And one that soon comes to
mind for me is Rise of the Triad, published by Apogee Software in 1995 and developed by an internal team there calling themselves
“The Developers of Incredible Power.” This was a team led by none other
than ex-id Software employee Tom Hall, heading a team of talented
people like Joe Siegler, William Scarboro, Bobby Prince, Joseph Selinske, Steven Hornback and many others. There’s no doubt in my mind
they were Devs of Incredible Power. Just look at this feature list! Unmatched realism, five unique characters, thirty-plus levels across four episodes, online multiplayer,
20 freakin’ megabytes of game content, and really… cool… explosions. Well, why didn’t you say so at first? No other game has that! Rise of the Triad was sold as shareware,
like everything else from Apogee, but you could buy it in the
stores in this FormGen retail box. Inside this glorious package, you get the
game on floppy disks or a single CD-ROM, and a manual filled with at
least 20 MB of game content and really… cool… explosions. The hunt begins with some lovely logos, letting you luxuriate in the
loveliness of their logo-ness. You’re then gifted with the
main menu’s optional options, like starting a new single-player game,
multiplayer game, saving and loading, the options, ordering,
high scores, gameplay demos, and an amazing quit button. Honestly, this thing is fantastic. Just look at all these ways to quit! And each one of them is even accompanied
by their own slightly disturbing sound effect. [tires screeching] [crash] Starting a new game is a
bit different than most FPS’s, since you’re given the option
of five characters to play as. Each one not only has their own look and voice, but unique, yet somewhat
predictable, characteristics. Like the big guy’s slower
but can take more damage, while the smaller gal can’t take as much pain,
but is far more quick and nimble. You then get an assortment of difficulty levels, each one more cleverly worded than the last, as was often the case with shooters back then. Your journey then begins with a series
of panels setting up the loose plot for your incoming homicidal experience. Basically, you’re a member of the special ops team known as the High-risk United
Nations Taskforce, or HUNT. While doing routine surveillance
near the island of San Nicolas, some patrolling douches decide to make
violent love to your boat with high explosives. While stranded on the island, you learn of a
terrible plot of terribleness that must be stopped. And instead of waiting around for proper backup, you go in with guns blazing and murder the crap out of everything with really… cool… explosions. If you’re any kind of familiar with Wolfenstein 3D, you may be getting a bit of a similar vibe here just by the look of the weapons, some of the enemies and level limitations, like 90-degree walls and
unchanging ceiling heights and individual maps. That’s because it’s running on an
enhanced version of the Wolf 3D engine, and actually began its life
as a sequel to that game, to be titled “Rise of the Triad:
Wolfenstein 3D Part Two” However, during development, they were
contacted by John Romero at id Software saying the project had been canceled, likely due to not wanting conflicts
with their upcoming project, Doom. But since they had so much work done,
Apogee kept the project going changed around the required assets and just went absolutely insane with the design, now that they weren’t restrained
by the Wolfenstein brand. And what resulted is this. An absolutely wild and
unique frag-fest of a game that makes little to no sense when you
think about anything that’s going on in it, and honestly, who gives a crap? Like, seriously, this game is stupid. So freakin’ stupid, and *that* is just the coolest thing, if you ask me. I love it when games don’t take
themselves seriously at all, especially when you have such limitations
with what you can do in a game engine. Just go overboard! Then you
don’t even notice the limitations. Yeah, back then, sometimes you had to go
bonkers just to make your game stand out, and Rise of the Triad is a prime example. Though at its heart, it really is a
typical shooter from the mid-’90s. You’ve got some basic controls for running, strafing, shooting
and interacting with the environment. And like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, you don’t even have a button for jumping. You pick up health items for health and guns and ammo for… guns and ammo, and of course, look for keys to
open doors to get to the next level that is rarely connected logically to the previous one. But beyond that, this game was practically like
nothing else out there at the time. For one thing, there are
the weapons in the game. You’ve got 11 of them here in the categories of bullet weapons,
missile weapons and magic weapons. Yes… magic weapons. So you not only get things like pistols,
machines guns and rocket launchers, but you also get things like the Excalibat, which can deal serious melee damage and shoot exploding baseballs. The Dark Staff, which fires
highly charged energy spheres that explode anything in their path. And the Hand of God, which not only makes you invincible but turns you into a freaking god, disintegrating any and all
foes that dare cross you. [echoing moan] And even some of the quote-unquote
“regular” weapons have weird twists, like the Fire Bomb that releases a
devastating cross-shaped explosion. The Flame Wall, which shoots
a rocket towards the ground that proceeds to burst into a massive wall of fire that incinerates everything in its path. Except robots because robots are just that freakin’ evil. And the Drunk Missile, which, uh… fires five heat-seeking
missiles in a drunken manner that truly makes no sense. Though, for some reason,
you can only hold four weapons at once, with only one of them being
either a missile or a magic weapon. I guess this is a somewhat realistic
limitation on your character, but… when the rest of the game
beats realism to a pulp with a magic baseball bat,
what’s the point? Then you’ve got the different
pickups in the game, many of which I don’t think
I’ve seen in any other game since. In addition to normal things
like health pickups and the like, you also have these collectible
coin things with anhks on them. They’re often out of reach, so even though you can’t jump,
you can use jump pads to hurl yourself into them
and collect them for points. If you collect enough of them,
you’ll earn an extra life. And yeah, you have lives in Rise of the Triad. Which is kind of confusing since you
can simply save your game anywhere and reload at any time, but whatever. Some people like high scores. Then you have power-ups and these are quite unique. In addition to the previously
mentioned God Mode, you also have one called Mercury Mode, which allows you to fly around
the level for a limited time, letting you find all sorts of
otherwise inaccessible secrets. You also have a couple power-downs, like Elasto Mode, which decreases friction to the point that
you’re bouncing around the level like a pinball, and Shrooms Mode, which puts you under the
influence of psychedelic mushrooms. I, uh… I have no idea why, but, hey,
the rest of the game is a bit of a trip, so why not? And lastly, you have Dog Mode, a dyslexic form of God Mode taken to its literal meaning. Dog Mode not only gives you God Mode, but turns you into a dog. Yup. Run around barking and biting at enemies until you morph back into your human form Animorphs-style. And it is fantastic. Seriously, why hasn’t there been a full
first-person shooter made with the idea of taking down bad guys as a dog? Beyond all this, it’s mostly pretty standard stuff for a game of this time
period and using this engine. I mean, yeah, there were some
serious enhancements to the engine, like shootable windows and objects and jump pads and varying types of lighting and fog and aiming up and down and such,
but it’s still a Wolf 3D-based game. The levels get *really* complex before long, and some of them are actually up to the
equivalent of one million square feet large. You’ll probably be wandering
around for ages on certain levels just trying to remember which
area had that one pushable wall that hid that one frickin’ key. And on top of all the regular navigation, you’ve got a plethora of secrets
and Easter eggs in every level. So there’s certainly no shortage
of content on offer here, however convoluted and
overwhelming it may feel after long periods of play. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s way more
entertaining to me than Wolfenstein 3D ever was. But it’s still not as continuously
playable to me as something like Doom. And I think that’s got something to do
with how Doom is just sort of a masterwork of just enough complexity
balanced with fine-tuned gameplay. Nothing really feels extraneous in Doom. Whereas in Rise of the Triad, I start to
tire of all the weird jumping puzzles, the bizarre key locations, the annoying power-downs
and even some of the weapons. Like the Split Missile, which while kinda cool, just feels clunky to use. But still, the game is so
chock-full of so much craziness and such cheeky personality and fine, little details that just make you smile that I find it absolutely
engaging every time I start it up. At least for a couple hours or so. And taking a look at its contemporaries,
it just stands out from the rest, with its bloody eyeballs and
middle fingers flying at the screen. And that’s just the single-player. There was also the multiplayer
mode known as Comm-bat, which is impressively full-featured for
a deathmatch experience back then. Lots of modes to choose from, tons of maps to play in, plenty of options to enable and disable, and even the ability to
customize the look of your character, at least somewhat. I never really played this mode
back in the day because… I didn’t have a connection
that allowed me to do so, much less friends that owned the game. But it’s something that at least impresses me now just by how chock-full of stuff it is. And the ROTT experience does not stop there because there were multiple
versions of the game released. We’ve been looking at “Dark War” here, which is the main full version of the game. But there were multiple versions of “Dark War,” some with more features or more levels. And the one you can get today
on places like GOG.com and Steam are the most full-featured of those, known as the “Site License” version. But there was also a version
called “The HUNT Begins” which was a shareware game
containing ten levels unique to it. You also had several level
packs released by other vendors and some for free online, as well as an official one known
as “Extreme Rise of the Triad.” This was put together by
two of the original developers, Tom Hall and Joe Siegler, and contained 42 more-
difficult new levels by them, as well as the full level editor,
some user-made levels, sound files and more. There was even a randomized level
generator program released for the game, which, like the one for Wolfenstein:
Spear of Destiny before it, allowed you to randomly generate both
single-player and multiplayer levels using the set of parameters you provide it. And that’s still not everything
I can mention about this game, but suffice to say, I think Rise of
the Triad is worth seeking out. If anything, it’s worthwhile because
of the revival of the series in 2013, developed by Interceptor Entertainment, and I think experiencing the game’s roots helps appreciate the new one all the more. And even though I get a bit tired of the
game’s formula before too awful long, I still like going back and playing it every so often. So I’d say it’s worth reliving
if you remember it from the past. Or if you have never played it
but want to play a mid-’90s FPS game that doesn’t give a crap about anything, goes insane on you and just
tosses ludicrous gibs in your face, then Rise of the Triad is
definitely the game to check out. [MIDI rock music plays]

Glenn Chapman

100 Comments

  1. I liked on ROTT that if you shrank the screen size down too far, it'd overlay "Buy a 486 :)"

  2. Pretty amazing that this engine allowed you to look up and down, while Doom's didn't

  3. I remember driving to every single game store in NY when this came out and finally seeing that GLORIOUS BIG WHITE BOX at FUNCOLAND of all places.

  4. Awesome review mate! This was loaded onto the class room PC when I was in year 2!

  5. It's strange. I remember everyone calling it "Rise of the Triads" – why is that?

  6. Don't forget the taunt if you died. It was a low and long, "You suuuuuuuuuck…."

  7. This game came on floppy disks? Damn i remember playing this awesome and unique game in the late 90s…. Dont remember no floppy disks. That was for Duke Nukem I and II

  8. The split missile launcher worked the way that when you release the fire button, the missiles split. So by holding the fire button you could use it as a regular rocket launcher.

  9. RotT wasn't much of a single player game but was one of the best death match games at the time. The deaths were very cinematic with eyeballs sliding down the screen when you were hit by rockets, my favorite was the weapon that incinerated your opponent to a skeleton that would fall into a pile of bones. It also had a taunt button that would lose you friends, it would throw out different taunts but the only one I remember was "you suck" which created a rule with a friend that I wasn't allowed to use the taunt button.

  10. Rise of the Triad and Heretic. Two unsung heroes of the 1st person shooter.

  11. in the game lushus gibs you can see a blown off arm with the middle finger comming at you

  12. nice, but you must film a CRT monitor for the video, de resolution in a LCD or LED es bad

  13. This sounds like a great game why didn't I hear about this one

  14. When I was a kid I loved this game so much that I would dream about it sometimes lolll I would often play with my father. Thanks dad for the awesome memories ! 🙂

  15. That music is hitting me right in the nostalgia. When I was a kid we could never figure out how to beat the monk boss. Turns out you just need to not attack him and avoid damage until he dies.

  16. I had fun with this game back in the day. It had it's own personality and this video brought back good fuzzy memories.

  17. This game also has misile chase cam, with a key or code. Tons of cool things about it.

  18. Shrooms Mode actually highlights secret push-wall blocks, so it's not a complete loss.

  19. ROTT was my jam as a kid. It was just so over the top and I loved it. I had no idea what a magic mushroom was (and wouldn't until high school), but the mode cracked me up. I loved ROTT so much.

  20. "No…please Don't shoot! No No PLEase!….ah" *Stands up*" BANG!"

  21. I fondly remember this when it came out, was great. I actually own this on many floppy discs but don't have a floppy drive anymore lol.

  22. Wow I completely forgot all about this game. I was probably 10 or 12 when I last played this.

  23. The game's cover and also the ads in computer magazines had me hit puberty way too early. ^^! Also if it is shareware, wouldn't that mean it is legally free?

  24. I had this on a demo disc when I was 10. Loved the violence in it. Fir some reason it seemed more visceral and realistic than Duke Nukem or Doom.

  25. I remember playing this game on my aunts computer in 96 or 97 i think it was. I also remember her yelling at me many times "ED, GET IN THE SHOWER" bless you aunt phyl

  26. "Patrolling douches make violent love to your boat with high explosives" great line

  27. I hated this game at the time, it seemed so dumb and weird and didn't draw me in at all. Doom was TONS better.

  28. In the multiplayer you could bind speech buttons to sent taunts to other players. To this day, I still will find my self saying in those dreamy tones “where aaare youuu?” “Over heeree”

  29. If you played it on or about Christmas time, the enemies etc were all Christmas decorated.

  30. Even just watching this video makes me motion-sick. It’s so sad I can’t play these old FPS games anymore, I don’t have that problem with any other genre 😕

  31. You missed christmas easter egg and could have shown the dog barks.
    Used to play on phoneline multiplayer and it was amazing!!

  32. I loved this game as a kid and played my friends via dial-up all the time. My memory of this game is better looking than the game.

    Favorite boss was N.M.E.

  33. Wow.. Thought I was the only dude that still knew about this. Lmao!…. Sure I'm one of many that made this comment. Hehe.. Mine did not come in that box or with a cdrom! I did get a real cheap version…

  34. I remember playing this back in the day – on Christmas Day and everyone had Xmas hats on and had a crazy Xmas vibe! Then the next day… gone – mind blown!!!!!!!

  35. I remember playing this back in the day – on Christmas Day and everyone had Xmas hats on and had a crazy Xmas vibe! Then the next day… gone – mind blown!!!!!!!

  36. I wonder if you can help me sens you seem to know your games. I am looking for a game that i played on pc around 2001 I think.
    If I remember correctly it had the same camera view as age of empires, you were in a room and you had to select mechs with the points you had, then when you were ready, a door opend up and enemy mechs came and attacked you, if you defeated them all you got to pick new mechs with better weapons and battle against new wave of enemies. I also remember the box art being dark red but I might be mistaken. To my knowledge the game wasnt mechwarrior. Any ideas?

  37. 2019 and this game keeps coming back to me… But in my head it is filled as "somewhat disturbing"
    1. The music I remember is low, drony and gloomy.
    2. The floating ankhs everywhere.
    3. The shrooms powerdown.
    4. The final boos made of giant heads slithering around the level.. that could not be defeated (without a walkthrough)

  38. funny thing i always thought ROT was more advanced than doom.. my memories were somewhat better :))

  39. At 2:50mins in, that screen with them all standing there – I bought this on CD ROM in the 90s and at Christmas time, that screen was snowing and they all had Christmas hats on.

  40. I bet im one of only people to play this with shroom mode after actually boiling up a kettle full as a teen..

    Not advisable 😕

  41. Love the games cover and box. Damn modern games have gotten so serious today

  42. Remember the sounds the leftover burnt skeletons would make as they fell to the ground?

  43. We would take over the computer lab in college and play 11 player vs. Dog mode was only may to kill god mode. Loved that game.

  44. The biggest thing I remember about this game when it was released is how disappointed I was when I got it and found out that it was EXTREMELY buggy on the system I had at the time. I don't think I ever went back and played it after I got a newer system though.

  45. It was duke 3d before duke even came…
    I thought I was the only one playing that game and thinking it was one of the coolest

  46. Ahh Rise of the Triad! Leftover Wolfenstein engine and bits. I loved it nonetheless.

  47. I played this with my Grandpa when I was a toddler! I remembered the HUD and gameplay but not the title!

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