Developer: Interceptor Entertainment Publisher: Apogee UK Price: £11.99 Platform(s): PC
Rise of The Triad harks back to the golden age of First Person Shooters, when we didn't worry too much about things like realism. Reloading was unheard of. Aiming down the sight was for chumps. Cover was the picture on the front of the box where the floppy disks were kept. Everyone ran around at seventy miles an hour. AI was so stupid it sometimes didn't even bother to shoot at you. Bugs and glitches were more common than hot dinners. The checkpoints made you want to claw your own eyes out.
What's that you say? Those last three weren't part of the golden age of First Person Shooters? Oh. Oh dear. That is troubling.
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There's no escaping it; this remake of Rise of The Triad is a bit shoddy. In places its edges are so rough you could sand down a wall with it. It's also hampered by some incredibly frustrating structural choices and being dedicated to its source material to a suffocating degree.
Rise of The Triad begins thus; a crack team of special operatives is deployed to San Nicolas Island just off the coast of Los Angeles to investigate the nefarious goings on of a nazi-like cult. Once on the island the situation quickly goes awry. Your boat is destroyed, and the only way to escape is to pick one of the five available operatives (the other four presumably go off on a picnic or something) to fight through the cult’s ranks and reach the monastery at the island's summit.
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It's a straightforward remake of the original, which means minimal story and maximum shooting. There's an optional "briefing" at the start of each mission, but it's mostly just an excuse to crack a few jokes of varying quality. Since it's a remake of a 90s shooter, this is of course absolutely fine, and for the first half hour or so things look fairly promising. Character movement is lightning quick, which feels wonderfully liberating after years stuck hiding behind waist-high walls. The starting pistol kicks like a tae-kwon-do champion, and within ten minutes you've been introduced to both the game's liberally scattered bounce-pads and your first rocket launcher, a combination which cannot fail to bring a smile to your face.
It's also, true to form, extraordinarily violent. Enemy soldiers collapse into a quivering pile of giblets if a light breeze passes through the compound, and should you blast them with an explosive weapon at moderate range, their eyes will splat onto the screen and then slide slowly downwards like a Loony Tunes character, although you wouldn't let your kids watch this after school.
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Having a few extra sore eyes at your disposal is probably a good thing, however, because the game seldom provides relief for yours. It's supposedly running on Unreal Engine 3, but there are areas where it looks a generation behind. Some of this can be put down to the game's attempt to stick as closely as possible to the original's level layout, but the flat textures and ropey character models are less excusable.
Sadly, underwhelming visuals are the least of Rise of The Triad's woes. The AI is simply dreadful. Now, to be fair, in the 1994 version the AI was terrible too. All they did was shoot at you and move around a bit. But that was before the days of mouse-look. Interceptor needed to compensate for slicker controls and twenty years of player experience by making their AI opponents both faster and smarter, and they simply haven't done this. The majority of opponents either walk slowly toward you or stand still completely, and there's only one type of enemy that actually makes an effort to dodge your attacks.