Rise of the Triad 2013
Developer: Slipgate Ironworks
Release Date: July 31, 2013
Time Played: 94 minutes too long am I right.
Dubiosity: 4 out of 5
Would I play more? No. No. Nope.
While it’s not entirely fair to say that Doom 2016 is responsible for the current spate of throwback FPSes (I refuse to use the term “Boomer Shooter” in anything other than the most sneering, eye-rolling context) it definitely made that kind of fast, exploration-focused ordeal acceptable again in a mainstream setting. Fast forward to 2021 and apparently New Blood and 3D Realms are just pumping the things out left and right (or at least early access demos of “shooters what where you go fast and can find secrets and probably can’t aim down sights.”) I myself have said a thing or two about a thing or two, namely that DUSK is very, very good and Amid Evil looks very nice with that ray tracing turned on. They’re not all winners, admittedly. The recently released Into the Pit seems very boring! There’s your shred of relevance for the day. That game came out last week!
Speaking of relevance, the 2013 revival of Rise of the Triad is 100% one of those games that came out a few years too early to be relevant. Unlike today, where I will continue to emphasize you kinda just trip over a retro-inspired shooter on your way to the mailbox, in 2013 this Rise of the Triad thing was a weird novelty, trying desperately to differentiate itself in a mass market of Call of Duty, Call of Duty imitators, and the worst Halo game. It’s also, to be perfectly frank, kinda dogshit. I don’t say that lightly in the world of, uh, wonderment that The Dubious Wheel™ Universe of Blogs and Streams represents, but Rise of the Triad 2013 feels like a laser-targeted representation of everything I *don’t* like about classic shooters. Is it the abundance of 90s ‘tude taunting you every time you die? Is it the constant quippiness from the cast of characters? Hitscan enemies with surprisingly fast reaction times? Or… is it the game’s baffling obsession with jump pads and janky, trap-filled level design? It’s all of them. It’s all of them, but especially the last one. And the first one.
I should probably back up and say I don’t hold the original Rise of the Triad in any sort of reverence, but I can see why it made sense at the time. This modern (well it’s like eight years old now, but “modern”) reimagining seems to think that the thing people missed about fast paced 90s shooters was a score attack mode? And jump pads. So many jump pads. Shooting fake nazis with MP44s and far, far too many dumb explosive weapons* sounds good on paper, but it never feels good. First off, hitboxes. No, seriously, the hitboxes are junk. For whatever reason, the one thing they did decide to bring in from modern shooters was the ability to aim down sights, and I felt like I had to do that constantly to avoid shooting my rockets into like, waist high fences that somehow blocked splash damage. That extends to the hitboxes on the abundance of death traps, by the way, which is made extra good when you see how many the devs decided made for good shooter levels. All of this culminated in a boss fight that had ALL of these things and at that point my patience wore out. No, jumping over (janky hitbox) fire traps while shooting rockets at a boss is not my idea of a good time, why do you ask?
Like, I cannot emphasize enough how many times I said “fuck off” to this game (well I guess you can watch the stream archive to hear *exactly* how many times I said it) when at most I was expecting a mediocre throwback that missed the mark. It is that, probably, but when you’re making jokes about people playing shooters with a controller or naming a miniboss “Dirty Sanchez” my ability to tolerate everything else drops precipitously. I can extend something similar to 2019’s Ion Fury (a game whose tone and attitude I outright loathe, to not even get into the way the devs decided to die on the “free speech” hill) but the difference is that I think Ion Fury is too well-made to be featured here. ROTT 2013 doesn’t have that base to fall back on, and as a result I was left with one of the angrier streams I’ve ever done.
*Hi I’m ArbitraryWater and I’m here to tell you my maxim of “Rocket Launchers should be a power or anti-vehicle weapon, not the most frequent, disposable thing in your arsenal” as part of my campaign to recapture explosive weapons from the hands of people who never moved past Quake deathmatch or the soldier class in TF2. I get it, you like aiming at people’s feet because you’re a foot pervert.
Warhammer 40K: Fire Warrior
Developer: Kuju Entertainment
Release Date: September 17, 2003
Time Played: About 20 minutes. Wait, what?
Troubleshooting: Oh hey so the game started crashing at a specific point in the second level every single time and I couldn’t figure out how to bypass it
Dubiosity:5 out of 5
Would I play more? I would’ve, if only to see how continually bad it was, but nope. Not going to. Moving on. I did this for you.
So hey we’ve reached our first example of a game’s technical issues finally being too much for me, the person who spent multiple hours getting King’s Quest VIII to run. Fire Warrior is mostly relevant as yet another “Halo Killer” back when Playstation 2 owners were desperate to try and one up their friends who owned an Xbox, featuring the (then new) Warhammer 40K faction, The Tau (or T’au if you’re a Games Workshop brand manager.) Now I’ll be honest, I think I’m still more of a Warhammer Fantasy guy than a 40K guy, but the idea of a video game where, for once, The Imperium of Man are the bad guys, has it’s appeal. Sure, apparently by the end of the game you’ve teamed up with them to fight chaos, but still. What if the technofascist, xenophobic, religious zealots in power armor were the antagonists to your plucky band of (definitely not mind controlled, nope) mech communists? That’s novel, right? So how’s the video game?
Unfortunately, the first mission of Fire Warrior is once again a reminder that the console shooters of the early 2000s *were not* Halo. They were not going to kill Halo, and no amount of two weapons and recharging health could change that fact. Fire Warrior controls poorly on PC, the guns feel like they have zero impact against the Imperial Guardsmen you should frankly be ripping apart, and did I mention that the game kept crashing in the second mission at the exact same point every time? It’s done. It’s over. We’re moving on. I’ve put Killing Time on the Wheel as a replacement game, and I’m deeply, deeply excited for you all to witness that piece of work.
Oh, speaking of wheels
The Wheel of Time
Release Date: October 31, 1999
Time Played: a little under 2 ½ hours
Troubleshooting: so apparently Unreal Engine 1 games need to have their frame rates capped otherwise they will break and run too fast on modern PCs. Good to know, I guess.
Dubiosity:2 out of 5
Number of times anyone said the phrase “Wool-Headed Sheepherder:” 0
Would I play more? Probably! Sucks it probably won’t get a proper re-release any time soon.
From the makers of that point-and-click Shannara adventure game that ZombiePie should 120% play, the Star Control game nobody likes, (no, not that one) and Unreal II: The Awakening comes a first person shooter that dares to ask “What if we adapted a series of books whose main traits are being very long and less horny than Game of Thrones?” That’s right, just in time for Amazon’s Wheel of Time show (which is definitely not going to be canceled as soon as Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show overshadows it, nope) it’s time for me to bring up the First Person Shooter based on Robert Jordan’s legendary(?) book series. I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for The Wheel of Time, but I’m not going to pretend it isn't also the apex of bloated, self-indulgent epic fantasy. For 14-year-old me those books were eye opening, and I’m very much looking forward to using the hazy-but-ingrained memories I have of them to lord over the bandwagoners this Amazon series is sure(?) to create.
Why Legend Entertainment was tasked with turning *this* particular license into a game where you can very much bunny hop around corners and shoot Trollocs in the face with a fireball, I do not know (but would love to find out.) Thankfully, it sidesteps the plot of the books by taking place hundreds of years earlier, with its own self-contained story where you play as a Brown Ajah Aes Sedai Keeper tasked with uncovering a plot by servants of The Dark One to undermine the White Tower. So instead of guns you have Ter’angreal, which you of course use to weave the One Power. Mhmmm. It’s surprisingly faithful to the lore of the world, is what I’m saying. Since you’re using magic, you sometimes get abilities to help you solve puzzles or traverse the environment, like a water shield that lets you breathe underwater and swim against the current. Listen man, in 1999 that was considered innovative, and for the most part I think The Wheel of Time is surprisingly neat. It’s definitely closer to the “set-piece” end of the spectrum than the “arena shooter” but it’s also UE1 so it moves well and looks very pretty for something out of the late 90s. It also has a nice soundtrack!
As a first person shooty shoot it’s fine, if a touch janky with enemy behavior and movement. Once again, decently fast, you can bunny hop, and I’ve seen enough speedruns to know that you can do some really silly sequence breaks with practice. It’s not half-bad! One of your spells is essentially a slow homing blob of death! Another one is a weird tornado! I could see that being a lot of fun in a deathmatch context (and like Daikatana, there's somehow a "small-but-dedicated" scene of folks still playing this because of course there are.) Really, the context of this game and its mere existence is probably its most dubious aspect, far more of the “weird and obscure” than “questionable” end of the spectrum. It’s also one of the games on this feature that is most likely to be lost to time, given that it’s not on any digital storefronts. I’d love to be proven wrong, if only so that I can be *that asshole* spouting off half-remembered book factoids to a wider audience. That’s all I want.
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