Rise of the Triad

snap1758As is the norm, the plot behind Rise of the Triad is razor thin, but that’s not really an issue with this sort of game. This time around, you’re a member of the HUNT (the High-risk United Nations Taskforce), a covert group of troubleshooters. Seems the evil Oscurido cult has destroyed Los Angeles, and you’re trapped on their secret island. You’ll have to stack up dead cult members before you get to their boss, El Oscuro. That means exploring more than 30 levels, avoiding a huge assortment of hazards along the way.

It’s those hazards that make Triad different — you’ll have to dodge moving walls, rolling boulders, lava pits, flame jets, gas traps, and spinning columns of razor-sharp blades. Traps were around since Doom, but you really didn’t see them get this sophisticated in that game. Triad’s mazes are also peppered with levitating platforms, secret doors and jump-pads that can bounce you over obstacles or onto your enemy’s head.

All those gadgets make for some interesting puzzles. You might use a jump-pad to hop into a fenced-off area and grab an all-important key, then realize there aren’t any jump-pads to get you back out again. If you can’t find the hidden exit, you’re stuck. The moving walls can put you in some interesting situations, too — nothing gets the old adrenaline going like charging down a narrow hallway with a huge wall barreling down on you. But one of Triad’s few drawbacks is hidden here, too — the designers made it just a little too easy to get yourself into a situation where there is no way out, other than dying or restoring a saved game. The complexity of the game is also very limited by the engine, resulting in some very blocky, Wolfenstein-ish levels.

snap1764The game features a wealth of nifty items and weapons, too. In a nod to Wolfenstein , you’ll get most of your healing from little bowls of food. The weapons are pretty straightforward. You start with a basic pistol, and you’ll eventually find a machine gun and various missile weapons. The missiles range from a simple bazooka to a heat-seeker to the wicked Firewall, which can crispy-fry a whole hallway of bad guys. There’s also the occasional magical weapon, like the Dark Staff.

Apogee wasn’t a stranger to action games, and they’ve shown themselves to be accomplished in making a hectic shooter with Triad. It’s midway between Wolfenstein and Duke Nukem 3D, with the former’s blocky levels and the latter’s bloody, adrenaline-fueled action.

System Requirements: 80386DX CPU, 4 MB RAM, DOS

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