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Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition – Making a monks meal of it

So! Many! Gibs!

Ludicrous gibs in Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition.

When you ask most gamers about first-person shooter (FPS) games from the 90s, you’ll almost certainly hear Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Quake thrown around, with perhaps the occasional Blood if you’re lucky. Not many seem to recall the rather over the top alternative that was Rise of the Triad, from Apogee Software, headed up by former id team member Tom Hall, who interestingly was also responsible for Terminal Velocity. Anyway, enough of the history lesson. I remember playing the original Rise of the Triad back when I was probably much too young to and loving it even though I found it very difficult. I also played the 2013 remake but I don’t want to bring that trauma back to the surface. Now, alongside remake champions Nightdive Studios, the original game has been remastered for boomer shooter fans to enjoy.

The story is about as deep as most 90s FPS games get. You’re a member of the counter terrorist group HUNT, who have been sent to a remote island to deal with an evil cult bent on world conquest. You get to pick which team member you want to play as, each of whom have different speed, accuracy, and health stats. You’ll obviously want to pick Ian-Paul Freely for the joke though. From there it’s into increasingly convoluted levels filled with gun toting soldiers, deadly robots, and insane cultists.

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition

For the most part, Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is the exact same game, but at a much higher resolution and with an uncapped framerate, which is a good thing considering how insanely fast the gameplay is. That does mean that the maps have that labyrinthine quality that so many 90s FPS games had. You’ll occasionally have no idea where to go, and that’s normally because you haven’t pressed use on a certain wall to reveal a hidden area or stepped on one specific tile that has a secret touch plate on it. It can be quite frustrating, and is certainly indicative of its time. 

Included in the pack is the original game, as well as expansions, but also a whole new episode created by New Blood and Nightdive which has much more modern level design. It retains the core of the experience, but makes the stages much more sane in their navigation, so I tended to find these more fun than the main game.

That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun, because it absolutely is. It’s furiously fast and with maps teeming with enemies for you to slay with your arsenal and secrets for you to discover, as well as a swathe of secret levels if you’re the clever sort. Whilst you’re exploring, you’ll burst into courtyards, caverns, and rooms chock full with foes to put down with your pistols, submachine gun, and slew of rocket launchers. I’ll be honest, the pistols are pretty useless, and you’ll upgrade to the MP40, which becomes your workhorse weapon very early in the game. From there though, you’ll want to play with the explosives.

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition
You always want to have an explosive weapon to hand. Some enemies later in the game are all but immune to small arms fire.

Unusually for a game of that bygone era, you can only carry one explosive weapon at a time, meaning you’ll frequently need to work with what’s to hand. But what’s to hand is almost always effective. The powerful straight shooting bazooka can be swapped for the weaker but homing heat-seeker rockets. The firebomb launches a missile that causes an enormous X-shaped explosion, whilst the flamewall launches a wall of fire in front of you, incinerating everyone before you, resulting in a silly little sound effect as their skeletons crumple to the floor. There are those with questionable utility, like the split missile sending two rockets in opposite directions and the explosive baseball launching Excalibat that requires far longer to charge up than you’d like, but even those ones can have their applications. The application being turning enemies into ludicrous gibs of course.

It’s absurdly fun if you can navigate the tricky levels, or use the classic cheat codes that still work to shortcut your way around. The weapons, gibs, and powerups — dog mode! — are all present and correct, along with a really enjoyable new episode, so fans of the classic will be happy, and boomer shooter fans will probably have a great time too, even if they don’t remember the original. The visuals, complete with digitised versions of the original team members, have that classic quality, that really doesn’t go out of style, although I would encourage you to not raise the field of view too high as it distorts some of the textures horribly. Yes, there are still the annoying sounds the enemies make when they get hit, but it’s more than made up for by one of the best midi soundtracks of the era. Seriously, go and listen to some of the absolute bangers in this game. They out do At Doom’s Gate as far as I’m concerned.

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition
God mode is such an insanely overpowered powerup. Hovering around the level, obliterating all that stand before you as your character yawns due to the lack of challenge is a great source of amusement. See also: Dog mode!

Right of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is a prime example of the old adage that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part this is just the original game but better and playable without too much faffing around. If you remember the original, you’ll be happy, and if you don’t, you’ll be in for a hell of a ride.

Right of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is available now on PC, and coming soon for consoles.

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