Rise of the Triad is a first person shooter that trades in dull brown modern environments for stone gray with stone gray matching enemies that have hitscan weapons. Its one of those tough as nails games that tries to emulate the old school feel of a mid 90s shooter, but I account its difficulty for how cheap it is. Enemies can hit you from anywhere and they blend in with the background as any true soldier should. Its also a vertical game so rather than walking through a shooting gallery of hallways, you get put into large, tall rooms where standard soldiers can sniper you from high above your head. No matter what they distance, if they can see you, they can shoot you even before you ever see them.
This is a modern is a resurrection of a sequel to Wolfestien 3D that was never a sequel. You select from one of five characters and fight Nazis with guns, making their eyeballs launch at your screen when they explode. I can recommend going with the character that you’re least tired of their voice over. Each of the characters has their own speed and power, but they are all quick and nimble. Despite how fast you are the hitscan weapons will hit you if an enemy sees you. Foes never even wait to turn around to face you. Their guns go blazing as they turn around.
So how are the weapons? You start with a pistol or two and you will find a standard machine guns that lets you have iron sights. These weapons both have unlimited ammunition with no need to reload, because its just so old school like that. Oh there are still reload animations, but they’re unnecessary.
Beyond those two standard weapons, there’s room for one larger weapon. These larger weapons are fun for the most part. Several of the larger weapons are too similar such as a homing missile launcher and a straight forward rocket launcher. It feels like a waste. The shotgun is a meaty, short range weapon. The large weapons are quite frequent and other than the secret room behind you when the first level starts, the next weapon you get is a rocket launcher in an enclosed space.
While the enemy intelligence seems dumb as they line up right in front of you rather than fanning out, they do have interesting facets. Such as they will drop to their knees and beg for their lives. Then sometimes they can pop up and shoot you once you turn around. I melee them, which would save on bullets, but the problem is there is no ammunition for standard weapons. Of course this is to compensate for those hit scan weapons. Its tough to imagine bludgeoning an enemy to death that can sniper you with a pistol. Some enemies will roll into you and take your weapon which is always interesting.
With levels so vertical, you’ll be rising on floating platforms as lifts and using jump plates to hop from area-to-area. These trampolines and hovering platforms are what Rise of the Triad can hang its hat on to make it different than other modern first person shooters that try to be mid 90s. Nazis sure had some pretty interesting technology back then! Perhaps they should have focused more on space age weapons rather than futuristic trampolines!
Its all dull, dark gray with shades of blue with no sort of flavor to call its own. Its just generic flavor #9 with a darker shade. You go through different areas, finding keys to open doors marked “gold” or “silver.” You also flip switches that further your progress. It all just makes the game feel that much closer to the bare minimum of what mid 90s shooters had with none of the fun. Where are the different enemies? Where are the different looking enemies? Even if the enemies are different by a slight degree, the only difference is their color, which is realistic, but its just all so boring.
Along the way there are plenty of environmental traps. Flames that come out of walls, spike traps that pop out of floors and crushing walls. Most of the traps you can time such as the flames and the crushing walls even if the walls are hidden in darkness and it took me a while to figure out what was crushing me. The spike traps cumming out of the floor feel like more of luck than timing.
If you get lost, there is no map; instead, the game has gigantic hovering coins to tell you that you’re in a new area. Its like playing a first person Sonic game with guns without the loops!
There are a lot of flaws with the game such as you can see enemies spawn in from thin air. In fact let’s say you’ve played the same level dozens of times, so you know someone is around that corner to the right. So you’re prepared and ready for them. You peak around the corner to see thin air, but to your amazement he spawns in before your eyes! Torsos and limbs get stuck in mid air. Debris from smashing wooden barricades will hover every so often rather than falling to the ground.
I’ve managed to find game breaking bugs such as shutter doors that open when you kill the enemies manage to stay shut. I have also seen enemies shoot through walls several times and even spawn in walls on a consistent basis. These problems are all consistent, but lucky for me there is a reload last save, reload the last distant check point or restart the entire level. Its a bit frustrating to restart a level because the game has messed up and restarting the last checkpoint is unable to help.
Rise of the Triad is also one of the only games that manages to be worse with a 360 controller and still use the Unreal engine. Every other game with Unreal plays great with a controller and that’s perhaps because there’s aim assistance, but Rise of the Triad becomes that much more difficult to play. Who dares plays a modern first person shooter with a controller though?
The health consists of pudding bowls or white pies; one of those two. As generic as the game is, its a step in the wrong direction from standard white boxes. It turns any health hunt into something you need to put some effort into because its a black bowl on dark terrain. Is that health? No. Is that health? Maybe. You never know until you run into it. On the plus side, you can rocket the rice bowls to light them on fire and give you extra health at the cost of ammunition.
The catch with everything negative is there are positives that I never managed to find in my short time spent with the game. There are mushrooms that make everything look wavy. There’s a dog mode of some sort. You fight through a medieval castle with magical weaponry. All that stuff sounds cool, its just that I never enjoyed the game long enough to get any deeper into it. Should anyone endure a bad game for what lies beyond further in the game? It failed to capture me and seeing the positive reviews when I know how flawed the game is makes me feel like people are desperate to like something.
Like most first person shooters, there are online multiplayer modes and that seems to be the sanest way to play the game. Other players have to aim at you to shoot so the game becomes a lot more forgiving. Then you become reliant on other people to have fun.
There’s a reason why this game was so cheap when it was released and that’s because the game itself is cheap. Its uninteresting, dull and frustrating.