The '90s were a fantastic time for those of us who wished only to paint the in-game walls with the blood of our enemies. Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, and a host of others made the scene amidst quite a bit of public outcry surrounding the forever-raging video games and violence debate.
The entire decade was an especially influential time when it comes to the growth of the fragfest as we know it today, and Rise of the Triad, the 1995 project brought to us via Tom Hall (previously of id Software) took things even further and spawned an instantly memorable mash-up of keys, ankhs, and ludicrous gibs.
The H.U.N.T. (High-risk United Nations Task-force) is suiting up again later this year thanks to news straight out of QuakeCon 2012 with a Rise of the Triad remake, and we've got a fond look back on this forgotten gem and what sticks out in our minds nearly twenty years after its original release.
For both players old and new (and the fanatics like me) out there, prepare for your minds to be blown.
The H.U.N.T. Begins
Rise of the Triad, at a glance, is your typical FPS with a gaggle of characters to choose from, a throwaway plot, and plenty of baddies to off. And for the most part, it is.
A rather benign plot following the High-risk United Nation Task-force on its way to San Nicolas Island with the intention to investigate suspicious cult activity culminates in the team's uncovering plans by a killer cult to completely destroy Los Angeles. Of course, this isn't acceptable in any way, shape, or form, so H.U.N.T. is forced to infiltrate in order to stop the cult from spreading their diseaseeven further than the island. After their boat is obliterated, they don't really have a choice, do they?
Thi Barrett, Lorelei Ni, Taradino Cassatt, Doug Wendt, and Ian Paul Freeley all comprise H.U.N.T. and are up for grabs as playable characters. Each is outfitted with their own specific talents, where some may move quicker than others and some have higher hit points and lower attack points. Players navigate dark passageways, wide-open "arena" areas complete with trampoline-like aids in order to reach higher areas, avoiding hazards such as "spinblades" and traps placed throughout the compound.
Jump pads, or certain types of ledges that catapult players straight up into the air, make you light as a feather. They can either aid you in reaching a hard-to-reach key or area that requires a long jump, as they can be used in combination with a running leap to do so. Quite often these types of jumps are accompanied by power-ups like ankhs and other bonuses, arranged in a handy line from point A to point B, and it's thrilling to pull off a jump after landing on a pad, collecting each item so lovingly set out for you by the cultists. Nice of them, eh? Destructible environments and other traps
This is what you all came for, isn't it? We don't blame you. ROTT is infamous for its gruesome gibbing (bits and pieces of enemies flying off here and there) and the special touches it relies on to make its killing sprees stand out from the rest. Not only are there plenty of different ways to eliminate enemies, but also there are just as many to watch them suffer. In fact, in a bit of some fantastic gaming history, enemies would often beg for their lives after you've pumped them full of bullets. It's up to you if you want to spare them or not, but they only pretend to die, later getting back up to try and kill you again -- but there's some kind of sinister fun in watching an in-game enemy beg for his life, no matter how inherently wrong it seems.
Enemy behavior is only a small part of what made Rise of the Triad memorable, but it went a long way in changing things up. If the cultists weren't channeling lame ducks, they'd lie in wait only to ambush you, steal your weapons, and even catch players via nets. This type of random behavior was never something new players expected, especially after a legacy of "run and shoot, make the bad guys fall down" games that never seemed to buck that mindset. It introduced a special kind of spontaneity that jibed well with the zany feel of the game.
Even in the bleakest of situations, blowing through an enemy with an MP40 and watching them explode into tiny pieces still made me giggle with the glee you find only in psychopaths. Because it truly was that much fun, especially once the infamous phrase "LUDICROUS GIBS!" appeared onscreen. That was something to be proud of. And the special kind of feeling that arose once you blew up a fellow human player in one of the game's many multiplayer modes via proper gibbing has still yet to be replaced, even in today's modern games.
Though Rise of the Triad doesn't seem to be as fondly remembered as the rest of the games released throughout the FPS “renaissance” of sorts throughout the '90s, it should be looked upon as a classic, rightfully since it could well have been the follow-up to Wolfenstein 3D. After being fired from id Software by John Carmack, designer Tom Hall set out to complete the project that was originally meant to comprise the next entry into the familiar Nazi-obliterating saga.
The game's original purpose can be deciphered by those with a keen eye, particularly in the uniforms worn by a portion of the enemy cultists and the World War II-era weapons available to players. As Hall and his team transformed what could have ended up another WWII shooter into what we now know as Rise of the Triad, this is one pink slip we're fairly happy to have seen handed out.
Since we only received official word on the Rise of the Triad remake hitting modern consoles, we have little to no facts as to what the update will contain, but we're hopeful it will be as faithful a reboot as possible to the original, retaining the gory goodness and then-inventive tactics and level design that felt fresh back then and still quite refreshingly different back then. More impressive gibbing, weaponry, and creative puzzle-solving with jump pads and perhaps other cultist traps would easily ensure today's ROTT can compare to the original, as well as easter eggs and a seasonal "Xmas edition" like Apogee saw fit to release years ago. There's plenty of potential, and we don't want to see it squandered.
Are you looking forward to the ROTT reboot or did you miss the game its first time around? Tell us your predictions for the upcoming remake and whether or not you'll be on board. In the meantime, we'll be over here counting our ankhs.