C:\DOS\RUN: Rise of the Triad


[Editor's note: Shipero is old school ya'll (y'all? yoa'll? Whatever, I'm not gangsta enough to know the right way). He loves the era of classic PC gaming. On this edition of C:\DOS\RUN, he talks about a game that looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Who knows, maybe if this game became more successful than Doom, then maybe The Rock would have starred in a RoTT movie. Now there's something to think about. -- CTZ]

One thing I realized looking back my early computer gaming experiences is that I have played a lot of Wolfenstein 3D clones. Some were good, some were bad, but all of them were usually nothing more than Wolfenstein in a different setting with some new sprites. You can’t really blame developers, when a game that popular comes along, it just makes sense to copy the core gameplay and change a few key elements to distinguish your game from the rest. Sometimes, however, a game rises far above the others and can even outshine its predecessor by adding a slew of unique features that make it stand out not only as a good clone, but a good game in its own right. A great example of one of those games is 1994’s Rise of the Triad.

Rise of the Triad was the brainchild of Tom Hall, one of the co-founders of id Software. During the development of Doom, Hall had written a design document called the Doom Bible detailing what he thought the game should be like. His ideas included multiple player characters with different stats and personalities, a central hub world, and a rich detailed story. John Carmack disapproved, he felt that the game would be too complex and wanted instead to make a simple shooter like they had done with Wolfenstein. Hall, tired of making simple, plot-less, shooters, resigned from id and went to work for Apogee.

Hall took some of the ideas from the Doom Bible and stared work on a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D called Rise of the Triad: Wolfenstein 3D 2. Eventually all associations with Wolfenstein were dropped but a few elements remained, such as the nazi-esque enemies and a few World War II era weapons. You play as a member of H.U.N.T. (High-risk United Nations Task-force) and your team is sent to San Nicolas Island to stop a cult from destroying Los Angeles. Since you are U.N. agents, you must accomplish this task through the cunning use of diplomacy and the threat of sanctions. Just kidding, it’s a FPS, so the only course of action is horrific bloody violence using an array of high-powered weaponry.

The U.N. would get more respect if Hans Blix would have carried a flame cannon.

The game’s arsenal of weapons is split into three categories: bullet weapons, missiles, and magic. The basic armament choices consist of a pistol, pistols akimbo, and a machinegun -- all of which have infinite ammo. The missile weapons are slightly more varied; you have a basic bazooka, heat seeking rounds, and missiles that send out waves of flame when they connect with the ground. The magic weapons are where things get interesting. There’s a staff that shoots orbs of energy that disintegrates any enemies they come in contact with and the Excalibat, a magical baseball bat that launches exploding baseballs. With cache of weapons like this you would think that it should be a breeze to liquefy anyone that dares stand in your way. However, there’s a catch, only four weapons can be carried at a time, forcing the player to choose how to most effectively murder cultists.

The weapons aren’t the only interesting feature that ROTT has to offer. Enemies have some impressive A.I.; they beg for mercy if dealt enough damage and some even fake their deaths and will continue to attack after your back is turned. The elite guards even display advanced tactics; they will roll and dodge your shots, lie prone behind obstacles, ambush you as you run past, and even trap you in nets. This was a large step up from the typical stronger enemy in a different uniform style of enemy progression found in other games at the time.

The environments are also unique; the levels are littered with destructible objects and various traps. The destructible objects seem to serve two major purposes: to block off hidden paths and hinder you in combat. There are several occasion throughout the game where your heat seeking rocket will fly off and blow up a candle instead of the cultist you were originally aiming for. The traps are more inventive than your typical acid floors and bottomless pits: there are spikes that shoot out of the ground, large pillars of blades that traverse hallways, and bounce pads that launch people several feet into the air. Both you and the enemies can fall victim to these traps. There’s even a stage in the shareware version that if you stand around for a few seconds after the stage begins, you can watch an entire room full of cultists get ground up by some blade pillars.

Blendtec has gone too far.

ROTT was one of those great games that no one seemed to play. I always turned to when I grew tired of generic FPSes. It was overshadowed by the juggernaut that was Doom, which is a shame as I would have loved to see a sequel. While playing the shareware version to get reacquainted, all I could think is how much I wished I still had the full game. I’m still tempted to buy it off of 3D Realms’ website. If you are interested in playing the game that Doom killed, you can play it either via DOSBox or one of the many programs made to port it to modern operating systems like WinROTT.

Watch for yourself:
Gory isn’t it? I hope you enjoyed this trip back to the early days of computer gaming. A time before DirectX, Mouse Look, or everything else PC gamers now take for granted. Next week, we’ll take a look at another game that no one cares about but me. Until then, just remember WASD is for wussies.

Directory of C:\DOS\RUN\

[Editor's note: No, these are not actually .exe files. They're links to Shipero's past works. I just know some of you are actually going to think these are .exe files ...

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