Rise of the Triad: Dark War is a first-person shooter developed and published by Apogee for MS-DOS computers on February 17, 1995. A special prologue episode, titled Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins, was released as shareware on December 21, 1994.
Originally planned as a direct sequel to Wolfenstein 3-D, the game became an original game (built on an enhanced Wolfenstein 3-D engine, the last official game to use it) that introduced numerous elements to the first-person shooter genre (including the use of digitized actors, adjustable violence, vertical aiming, multiplayer voice chat, and the Capture the Flag game mode). The game was also known for its crazy weapon concepts (such as the Excalibat, a magically-enhanced baseball bat that fires a barrage of baseballs), insane powerups (such as God Mode, which turns the player into a tall powerful being that smites groups of enemies with heat-seeking energy orbs), and its excessive violence, as shooting enemies with missile or magic weapons can cause them to explode into a confetti of gibs.
Set in an unknown time period in the mid-to-late 20th century, players take the role of one of five members of a team of special operatives, known as the High-risk United Nations Task-force (or HUNT, for short), as they investigate cult activity taking place in San Nicolas Island, off the coast of Los Angeles. When their only ride out of the island explodes into flames, they must infiltrate a huge fortress monastery to stop the Oscurido cult, whose goal is to kill millions of innocents in the name of their master, death monk El Oscuro.
The game was later digitally re-released for the PC, Mac, and Linux (all running DOSBox emulation) via GOG.com on March 3, 2009. This version was later released on Steam on July 1, 2013 (as part of the "Apogee Throwback Pack", bundled with Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold and Blake Stone: Planet Strike), on May 6, 2015 (as part of the "3D Realms Anthology", bundled with 31 other games), and on November 29, 2015. It was also ported to iOS devices on February 12, 2010.
The game received an official reboot on July 31, 2013, simply titled Rise of the Triad. Developed by Interceptor and published by the resurrected Apogee, this game remade most of the original game's concepts in Unreal Engine 3.
Rise of the Triad: Dark War is a traditional fast-paced first-person shooter with some arcade elements, such as scoring and lives. Players run around levels, looking for the exit, while killing enemies, activating switches/touchplates, and collecting power-ups and weapons. Players earn lives by reaching score thresholds and collecting "life items", and lose one for each death (also resetting them back to the beginning of the level with the standard pistol).
The game includes various traps and objects that either help or hinder the player's progress. Spinblades, gun emplacements, lava pits, and fire-jets damage both players and enemies. Walls moving at a path could crush players and enemies. Hidden touchplates and moveable pillars help players get to secret areas. While there is no key to jump in this game, there are jump pads that help players travel to high places. They can also use specific missile weapons to perform a rocket jump (making it the first first-person shooter to do so). Progression through each level sometimes requires up to three keys (gold, silver, and iron), rarely including a fourth Oscuro key for the very secret areas.
When players complete a level, they get bonus score based on how they performed. Some bonuses are easy to obtain ("100% kills") while others are really obscure and difficult to obtain ("Destroyed all the life items in a level").
The game's engine was heavily based on Wolfenstein 3-D, retaining the strict 90-degree wall angles and strict floor/ceiling height. (Doom, released at the same time, removed these restrictions) Rise of the Triad: Dark War got around the strict floor/ceiling height restriction by using special platform objects (Gravity Anomaly Discs, or GADs) that can vary in the distance from the ground. These objects can also move around on a path, creating simple elevators and trains. In addition to that, there are special walls that only blocked the player from a particular height, creating the illusion of floor-over-floor. The game also made an illusion of floor-over-floor through elevators, which simply teleport the player to another area of the map, sometimes playing elevator music (similar to Goldeneye). The game was also the first first-person shooter to include aiming up and down, both automatically (to lock on to enemies) and manually. The game was also the first to implement persistent bullet holes, fog, breakable glass (which players can take damage from, by running into large sheets of glass), and light objects that illuminate the walls (and make the room darker when shot).
Rise of the Triad: Dark War features gratuitous amounts of violence (earning the game the highest advisory rating on the Recreational Software Advisory Council, the predecessor to the modern Entertainment Software Ratings Board), as missile and magic weapons would make enemies explode into truly impressive amounts of gibs.
In addition to the violence, the game is also the first to implement "violence adjustment", where players can use "parental lockout codes" to decrease the amount of violence displayed on the screen (for younger audiences and those with weak stomachs). The four choices available are:
- None - No blood or gibs.
- Some - Enemies and players spew blood sprites when injured.
- A Lot - Enemies and players have bloodier death animations, including turning into a pile of gibs when suffering a violent death.
- Excessive - Default value. Enemies and players explode into gibs when suffering a violent death.
Whenever an enemy is violently killed (without any violence restriction), there is a random chance that they would produce at least three times as many gib sprites as normal (showing a "Ludicrous Gibs!" message to the player.
The game contains five playable characters, each with their own unique gameplay attributes. Their unique stats can also apply to multiplayer, if the game host chooses to.
Taradino Cassatt - Standard speed, average amount of hit points. Only playable character in the shareware version.
Thi Barrett - Fast speed, low amount of hit points.
Doug Wendt - Slowest speed, highest amount of hit points.
Lorelei Ni - Fastest speed, lowest amount of hit points.
Ian Paul Freeley - Slow speed, high amount of hit points.
Along with traps scattered around the levels, players must fight or escape from various types of enemies. Killing enemies also add to the overall score.
The most common type of enemy found in the game are uniformed grunts. Other than the Triad Enforcer, all of them can be taken down with little effort (although they can still be dangerous in large groups).
- Low Guard - Basic pistol-equipped grunts. Some Low Guards start off feigning death before rising in front of the player in an attempt to surprise them. As the map is generated, Low Guards can be randomly replaced by superior Lightning Guards.
- High Guard - Tougher grunts equipped with a rapid-firing MP-40. When they die, they have a chance of dropping a working MP-40 that can be picked up by the player.
- Over Patrol - Officers that attacks with a pistol and a net gun (firing a net that entangles the player, forcing them to either struggle out of it or use a previously-found knife). They do not appear in the Shareware version.
- Strike Team - Pistol-equipped guards that tumble sideways when fired upon, attempting to dodge the player's attacks. On harder difficulties, they will even try to dodge player missiles. They do not appear in Episode 1 of the main campaign.
- Lightning Guard - Pistol-equipped grunts that, when down to low health, often beg for mercy before feigning death (rising when the player has their back turned). On harder difficulties, they are sometimes outfitted with Bazookas (that they can use on the player and drop when they die) and, when close enough, attempt to steal the player's missile weapon (or protective armor, if the player is not carrying any).
- Triad Enforcer - Much tougher to kill than the other uniformed guards (and incredibly resistant to bullet fire), the Triad Enforcer carries a damage-dealing chain gun for close-ranged combat and throws impact grenades at longer ranges. They do not appear in Episode 1 of the main campaign.
Found in Episode 3 of the main campaign, two types of robots patrol the floors.
- Robot Guard - The smaller and more common robot found in the campaign, Robot Guards pursue the player and fires missiles at them. Invulnerable to bullet weapons, Flamewall fire, and players in Dog Mode.
- Ballistikraft - Larger cylindrical robots that patrol (and never pursue). Will stop and attack players with a barrage of missiles. Invulnerable to ALL weapons, including God Mode and Dog Mode. Does not appear in the Shareware version.
Found in Episode 4 of the main campaign, the monk followers of El Oscuro are powerful foes that can attack in numbers, requiring the use of missile and magic weapons to survive each encounter. They are tougher to kill than common uniformed guards and are resistant to bullet fire. They do not appear in the Shareware version at all.
- Death Monk - Bulkier monks that creep towards the player and, when close enough, drain health from the player (replenishing his own health in the process).
- Deathfire Monk - Slimmer monks that shoots powerful balls of energy (exploding like a missile when they reach a wall or object) at the player.
At the final level of each episode (with the exception of the Shareware episode), the player fights one of the four bosses in the game. The level is only cleared when the boss is destroyed.
- General John Darian - Pyrotechnics expert and boss of the first episode. First operates his own variety of traps with the machinery in his hideout. Once the player destroys his machinery or accesses his hideout, he becomes vulnerable and fights with his bazooka. He can also transport himself around the room safely using his traps.
- Sebastian "Doyle" Krist - Former head of a rich movie studio and boss of the second episode. Rides in a battle throne and fires barrages of disc-shaped floor missiles at the player.
- Nasty Metallic Enforcer - Better known as N.M.E. ("enemy"), the Nasty Metallic Enforcer is a huge robot guard and the boss of the third episode. Really tough to kill and really fast to run from, it is capable of quickly firing heat-seeking missiles.
- El Oscuro - Final boss and demonic leader of the Oscuridos cult. On the first encounter, every attack the player throws at him are specifically countered. After a while, he transforms into his giant flying snake form and escapes to his lair. In the second and last encounter, he charges at players (usually through lava pits, which makes him vulnerable). In order to get the Good Ending to the game, players must scout the lair to find and destroy his offspring (in larvae form), hidden in various places.
Weapons and Items
Rise of the Triad: Dark War contains three bullet weapons, six missile weapons, and two magic weapons. Players have four weapon slots to switch from (Pistol, Dual-Wielded Pistols, MP-40, and one missile or magic weapon). Bullet weapons cannot be dropped and have unlimited ammo. Missile and magic weapons have limited ammo, disappear when their ammo is depleted, can be dropped (using the Drop key), and can be switched with other missile and magic weapons by running over them.
|Pistol - Each player's starting weapon, the Pistol has a slow rate of fire and is generally only effective against weak guards. Has unlimited ammo and can be dual-wielded if another pistol is found.|
|MP-40 - An improvement on the Pistol, the MP-40 machine gun has a faster rate of fire, increasing its effectiveness against all guards. Has unlimited ammo and is sometimes dropped by guards that wield them.|
|Bazooka - The game's basic missile weapon, the Bazooka fires a single missile at a time straight forward, exploding upon impact. Each Bazooka contains up to 10 missiles. Can occasionally be dropped by guards that wield them (in which the Bazooka has up to 4 missiles).|
|Heat-seeker - Slightly weaker than the Bazooka, the Heat-seeker automatically locks in on any heat source (including enemies, lights, and lava walls) and steers the missile there. Each Heat-seeker contains up to 7 missiles.|
|Split Missile - Similar to the Bazooka, the Split Missile acts like normal as the Fire button is held down. Once its let go, however, the missile splits into two at a 45 degree angle. Each Split Missile weapon contains up to 7 missiles. Not available in the Shareware version.|
|Drunk Missile - The Drunk Missile fires five small missiles that vaguely launches towards a particular enemy. Each Drunk Missile weapon contains up to 7 barrages.|
|Flamewall - The Flamewall fires a missile that arches towards the ground. If it hits a wall or an enemy, it detonates into a weak blast. If it hits the ground, it sparks a deadly wall of flame that incinerates most enemies in its path. Each Flamewall weapon contains up to 5 missiles.|
|Firebomb - The Firebomb fires a missile that, upon impact, creates a series of explosions outward in four directions (similar to bomb blasts in 2D Bomberman games). Each Firebomb weapon contains up to 5 missiles.|
|Excalibat - The Excalibat is a magically-enchanted baseball bat, which can be swung at enemies for a powerful melee attack or charged up for a powerful Excaliblast (a barrage of baseballs fired around the player). Each Excalibat contains up to 10 Excaliblasts. Not available in the Shareware version.|
|Dark Staff - The Dark Staff conjures up an incredibly powerfull orb of energy that destroys everything in its path. Each Dark Staff contains up to 7 blasts. Not available in the Shareware version.|
- Food - Guard Gruel heals 10 hit points, Priest Porridge heals 20 hit points when "cold" and 50 hit points when "hot". Monk Meat was also available, although specific numbers are unknown.
- Monk Crystals - Small crystals heal 10 hit points while large crystals heal 50 hit points.
- Healing Basin - A large basin of water that heals somewhere between 25 and 100 points when the player press the use key. After using it, he/she can destroy it to potentially open up a secret path.
- Life Items - Come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 25. Collecting them adds to the secondary life counter. Once the counter reaches 100, it resets and grant the player an extra life.
- 1-Up - If the player's health is less than 75%, it will give him/her full health. Otherwise, it gives him/her an extra life.
- 3-Up - If the player's health is less than 75%, it will give him/her full health and two extra lives. Otherwise, it will give him/her three extra lives. Does not appear in the Shareware version.
- Bulletproof Vest - Time-limited item that protects the player from bullet weapons.
- Fireproof Vest - Time-limited item that protects the player from fire and missile weapons. Getting hit by a wall of fire from the Flamewall depletes it immediately (while dealing no damage to the player).
- Gas Mask - Time-limited item that protects the player from poisonous gas (which is sometimes activated as a trap).
- Knife - Some levels contain statues holding knives that can be collected. While they cannot be used as normal weapons, they can be used to cut free from being trapped in nets.
- God Mode - 30-second power-up that not only makes the player invulnerable to all damage (with the exception of falling off the map), but transforms them into a fifteen-feet-tall omni-being. His/her weapon is temporarily holstered, and they are able to shoot an unlimited number of enemy-seeking instant-kill magic orbs from their hand. Like the Dark Staff, the orbs do not explode when touching an enemy.
- Dog Mode - 30-second power-up that, in a wordplay on "god mode", transforms the player into an invulnerable (with the exception of falling off the map) two-foot-tall dog. Dog players have access to a standard melee attack, where they bite chunks of flesh from their enemies, as well as a unique BarkBlast, a sound-deafening bark (charged by holding down the Fire button) that deals heavy damage to all nearby enemies and objects. Their small size allows them to access special areas restricted by a small entryway. Not available in the Shareware version.
- Mercury Mode - 30-second power-up that allows the player to fly in the air (using the Look Up and Look Down keys). It makes certain platforming puzzles easier while giving players access to special areas unreachable due to height.
- Elasto Mode - 15-second power-down that removes all ground friction for the player (causing him/her to always move uncontrollably). Hitting the wall also causes him/her to bounce in the opposite direction.
- Shrooms Mode - 15-second power-down that causes the character's vision to wander aimlessly and makes all enemies (and certain objects) flash into different colors.
- Random Power - Randomly chooses between God Mode, Dog Mode (non-Shareware versions only), Elasto Mode, and Shrooms Mode.
Rise of the Triad: Dark War also contains multiplayer (known in the game as Comm-Bat) via modem or LAN. A network game supports up to 11 players, with each in-game player having their own name, character, and shirt color. This is also the first first-person shooter where one computer can act as a dedicated server.
There are nine game modes that can be played in multiplayer, with or without teams (dependent on their shirt color):
- Score Mode - Standard deathmatch mode. Players get an extra point for killing an opponent with a bullet weapon, an extra point for killing an opponent in the air, and four points for killing someone by standing on their head and crushing them.
- Collector - No weapons. Players run around and collect floating triangular "Triads" for points.
- Scavenger - Like Collector, only players get weapons and can kill opponents. Shots can also destroy Triads, so be accurate.
- Hunter - One player (or one team) is the unarmed "Prey", and everyone else (or the other team) are armed "Hunters". The only way to get points is to kill the Prey.
- Tag - One player is designated as "It", and must run up to another player and press the use key. Player with the lowest points (the least amount of time as "It") wins. Cannot be played in team mode.
- Eluder - In "Dog Mode", players must run up to moving targets and press the use key.
- Deluder - Like Eluder, only players are not in "Dog Mode" and must destroy the targets.
Goals and other options in multiplayer can be customized prior to starting the match. These include the gravity, player speed, missile/magic weapon ammo, player health, danger/health/missile weapon/mine spawn, item re-spawning, random weapons, friendly fire, lighting of the level, damage done by environmental hazards, point goal, and time limit.
Rise of the Triad: Dark War included several ways of communicating to other players, including standard text messages, macros for both text and pre-recorded audio, and audio via microphone. Text messages can be sent to a specific person. Players can also view their teammates' game screens at any time.
Rise of the Triad: Dark War
The retail version of the game, titled Rise of the Triad: Dark War, was originally published in separate versions. The base version, or "Disk Version", was released in floppy disks or downloaded from Apogee's BBS store. It contains 37 standard levels (split up into four "episodes", plus 2 warp-only levels), 30 multiplayer levels, all weapons and characters, and 11-player multiplayer. An expansion to the base version, called the "Triad PowerPack", included 10 new multiplayer levels, a random level generator, and an enhanced version of Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins.
The CD version, or "Super Triad", included both the base version and the "Triad PowerPack", along with game assets and the shareware versions of Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, Duke Nukem II, Hocus Pocus, Raptor: Call of the Shadows, Wacky Wheels, and Wolfenstein 3-D. A special "Site License CD" version was published (costing nearly three times the amount of the CD version) so that public networks could legally run 11-player multiplayer games using the same CD. (With the addition of 10 new multiplayer levels)
Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins
The shareware version of the game, titled Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins, contains 8 standard levels (plus 2 warp-only levels) and 8 multiplayer levels. Unlike most shareware games, where the shareware "episode" is just a selection of the retail game's levels, the levels in this game are completely new to the game. All weapons and power-ups are included except the Split Missile, Excalibat, Dark Staff, and the "Dog Mode" powerup. The only playable character is Taradino Cassatt and multiplayer is limited to 5 players with game modes limited to Normal, Collector, and Hunter.
A special version of the shareware version was released on a retail disc by Lasersoft, Inc. (named the "Deluxe Edition"), which adds 3 new standard levels and 3 new multiplayer levels. These levels were released by Apogee after Lasersoft went out of business. The disc also contains the shareware versions of other Apogee games, similar to the "Super Triad" version of the retail game.
Extreme Rise of the Triad
An official add-on was released by Apogee in 1995, titled Extreme Rise of the Triad, containing 42 new standard levels that are more difficult and more puzzling. These levels were released as freeware through Apogee's website years later. The disc also contained extra materials, such as user-made levels and level editors, which were later released as freeware under the "RotT Goodies Pack" to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the game.
Rise of the Triad: Dark War was originally going to be an expansion pack for Wolfenstein 3-D, using the same engine (with slight modifications to fit its concepts). Named "Rise of the Triad: Wolfenstein 3-D Part II", the story pits the player as B.J. Blazkowicz after his battle with Adolf Hitler. Blazkowicz must infiltrate a secret organization, called the Triad, which consists of three corporations who guided Hitler as one of their puppets. The game would have been split up into four episodes, with the first episode being shareware, just like the original game.
- Serpent on the Mount - B.J. must battle his way to the entrance of an old monastery used for the Triad's operations. The boss would have been General Darian (known in the design spec as Esau Guderian).
- The Secret Warring - After entering the monastery, B.J. must search for the crypt keys leading to the Triad's headquarters below the castle. The boss would have been Heinrich Krist.
- The Desecrated Tomb - B.J. must enter the dark catacombs and seek out the three members of the Triad. The boss would have been the Schwarzenmonch (Death Monk), where he is only vulnerable after crossing over heat grates (similar to El Oscuro).
- The Final Solution - Wiping out the three members of the Triad triggers their mechanical radio-computer (the Sendenkener) to trigger the countdown for the end of the world (via nuclear weapons). B.J. must enter further in the bunker and destroy the timing unit. The final boss would have been the Head Robot (the Oberroboter), who later became the Nasty Metallic Enforcer.
The game would have featured five new weapons (the Triad Chain Gun, Grenade Launcher, Bazooka, Nerve Gas Launcher, and Heat Seeker). The game would also have featured new enemies (most similar to the enemies found in the final version), such as smart officers that can heal using the same healing items as the player.
More information about the original concept can be found here.