When speaking of old school, fast-paced PC shooters, Rise of the Triad is often overlooked, having the misfortune of a release sandwiched between Doom and Quake. It’s a memorable experience, mostly because of the over-the-top, B-movie horror amount of gore that spurts up with every kill. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those old school PC gamers who grew up playing the title and, therefore, can’t reminisce about the “good old days” of playing multiplayer with Comm-bat (the game’s online functionality). My excuse is a good one, though. I wasn’t even two years old when it was first released.
Though players like me who are new to RotT won’t be able to slurp from the drinkbox of nostalgia, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. You see, there really wasn’t a more appropriate place than QuakeCon that Interceptor and Apogee could’ve picked to unveil the remake. Sitting down to play the game on the show floor here in Dallas, felt like a visit back to the 90’s.
Besides the fact that the Hilton Anatole, the venue where Quakecon 2012 was held, didn’t offer complementary WiFi, the low ping in multiplayer is necessary. Rise of the Triad is fast, and I mean original Quake and Unreal fast—any lollygagging around means taking a couple potshots to the face.
The playable demo down on the show floor is one arena, centered in a castle location on San Nicolas Island, the same setting from the original. Once the match begins, it’s a complete six-way blitz. Weapons, jump pads, and pickups are scattered across the map, which is fairly expansive. The inner walls of the castle lead up to the second floor via jump pads or stairs, if you’re feeling conventional and / or old-fashioned.
You can broach the inner workings of the castle via a well or stairs, that lead you through a dungeon. Prisoners rocking the black and white are sitting in cells on their knees, begging for freedom. Unfortunately, at this time, they’re just set pieces that you can’t shoot up… if you’re feeling sadistic. (Yes, I’m one of the folks who tried.)
The corridors aren’t too constrained within the inner walls, making it fairly easy for you to dodge around enemies. Health pickups are usually packed in lines of threes or fours on each level of the map, healing only about two lines of health each. They currently resemble overlarge bowls of rice, which gives you a general idea of what the game feels like. They’re not exactly gunning for realism here.
Fans will be happy to hear that the iconic weapons from the original have been carried over. Every player begins with a pistol, which is fairly useless. It takes almost an entire clip to take down an enemy—quite a feat in a twitch shooter. It’s good motivation to pick up the other weapons laying around the map. Though not all armaments from the original are available, the MP-40, Bazooka, Heatseeker, Excalibat, and Firewall are fair game.
The MP-40, Bazooka, and Heatseeker are all fairly standard weapons that you might see in other FPS games. The Excalibat—well-hidden at the bottom of a well—is, for those who aren’t familiar, a bat with an embedded eyeball that shoots exploding baseballs. Right-clicking when holding the Excalibat allows it to charge up to dispense a circle of the cork and C4 filled sporting equipment. Essentially, it’s a surefire way to a one-hit kill if you manage to catch somebody off-guard.
The Flamewall weapon works exactly as it sounds, ejecting a barrier of pure burn. Anyone who’s graced by its touch will survive for a mere three seconds before combusting into a charred skeleton. It’s just enough time to make someone think that they’ve managed to escape unscathed before the scent hits their virtual noses. The blaze can be shot up flights of stairs or down a narrow corridor. It can be jumped over, but the timing must be extremely precise. Alternatively, if you are hit by the Flamewall, the best idea is to take advantage your remaining time on earth and charge the closest enemy for a kamikaze kill. It’s no mean feat, though. For the past two days of the convention, I’ve yet to see any player—even those from the RotT team—pull it off.
For players used to modern tactical shooters, the weapons in RotT sound horribly imbalanced. But that’s exactly the type of feel that they’re going for. Interceptor Entertainment CEO and RotT lead designer Frederik Scheiber explained that the game was meant to replicate the feeling of the unbalanced games of old.
Though RotT is a fun experience by that merit, I could definitely tell that this was an early build of the game. Only Tarandino, one of the players from the original, is available for play in the multiplayer, so it’s hard to distinguish which players are running around the map. Certain bugs, though hilarious, remain to be squashed. What was refreshing to me was that the RotT team owned up to them and actually showed them off on the show floor. For instance, when quickly reloading the dual pistols and switching to a single pistol, the game will glitch so that your character will suddenly have three arms.
Still, something about these glitches just adds to the overall charm of the game. Rise of the Triad brings back the twitch shooter and may be a real solution to “shooter fatigue.” I feel that current competitive multiplayer shooters that allow for leveling, which leads to better weapons, makes it a barrier to entry for some players. Rise of the Triad is something that every player can pick up, play and have fun. The build I played had its share of glitches and the game is designed to be “unbalanced,” but it certainly succeeds at rekindling the old-school spirit. It’s impressive to see the amount of work that Interceptor and Apogee have managed to put together in only six-months of development time. Though no release date is yet named, I certainly hope to see it not too long in the near future.
You can see the first of Rise of the Triad right now, though. Check out the launch trailer below.