Review: Rise of the Triad re-enters the shooter arena with ludicrous, yet frustrating, gibs
The action was fast-paced. The gibs were ludicrous. It was the year of the original Rise of the Triad, and things were blissfully uncomplicated. No overwrought narratives, checkpoints, or hulking space marines -- just body parts flying willy-nilly and good old-fashioned shoot-’em-up fun.
Though considered a dusty old relic by some, Rise of the Triad is an excellent example of the right way to combine memorable mechanics with a gorefest that could sate even the most grisly of players. Still, despite its cult status, it seemed highly unlikely that it would ever see any new treatment, let alone a sequel or remake. Fast forward to 2013, and Interceptor Entertainment has graced us with a reboot of the indomitable shooter, a love letter to the genre and to everyone who grew up an eager member of the H.U.N.T. It’s not perfect, but it’s rough around all the right edges, and in this day and age, that’s a beautiful thing.
Suit up and join the H.U.N.T., a Special Forces unit tasked with investigating suspicious cult activity on a remote island. These are no ordinary Westboro Baptist Church or Heaven’s Gate lackeys -- these are militaristic insurgents looking to shove a rocket launcher down your throat. So you fight back any way you can -- namely with a host of formidable weaponry and knock-down, drag-out brawls.
Rise of the Triad, as you may have guessed, eschews what has become the “norm” in so many modern shooters. There’s no cover to snap to, no reason to cower in a corner for stop-and-pop tactics, and no reason to be shy. This is the quintessential balls-out, guns-blazing killing spree that truly caters to players who revel in bloodbaths and free-for-alls. Rocket launchers, machine guns, flak cannons, and even a lightning staff that’s a force to be reckoned with are at your disposal. The ridiculous arsenal is half the reason to plunk down the cash for this budget-priced gem, even when its campaign begins to feel a bit tiresome.
Despite the madcap action, zipping back and forth between unsuspecting enemies and slaughtering them, there are some frustrating elements that simply aren’t as engaging as they could be. It never ceases to be entertaining when you're scattering intestines and brain matter across each level, but when faced against enemies such as the N.M.E. or even the several pitfalls and traps scattered amongst each level, the fun factor waxes and wanes. It’s a pleasure to mow through comically stupid enemies who simply throw themselves at you, but when the difficulty spikes, it really spikes -- sometimes through you.
That’s due in part, of course, to RoTT’s nature as a throwback shooter, but to be able to pull more frustrating escapades off, the rest of the game has to be up to snuff, and checkpoint placements, unnecessarily irritating puzzles, and austere segments are, at times, clustered together. Classic shooters are devoid of handholding, yes, but cheap deaths aren’t any less aggravating.
Luckily, the gunplay (and arsenal) is excellent. You push through the frustration simply to see what’s going to happen next. It’s easy to forgive some frustrating design decisions when you have the freedom to completely and totally gib the enemies who stand in your way. And that’s RoTT’s major draw. It always has been. It’s tough to fault the remake for simply staying true to the same aspects that made the original, even if it does tend to raise your blood pressure here and there.
Those who take the plunge will have plenty to destroy and more still to come back for. Considering the robust multiplayer modes, secret areas, and the outpouring of success from the dev team. It’s clearly a labor of love, though only the hardcore need apply. It may not be flawless, but modern shooters could definitely take a page from Rise of the Triad for some much-needed improvements.