Monday, August 1, 2011

Video Game Tribute #18 - Rise of the Triad

It's been a while since I've conTRIBUTEd to the video game world I love so much... This time I've taken one of the more obscure titles from the First Person Shooter boom of the mid-90's. In actuality, I'm not entirely sure that era of gaming existed, but I seem to remember there being A LOT of DOOM/Wolfenstein clones coming out around that time. Heretic, Goldeneye, Quake, Blake Stone, Duke Nukem, etc... But one particular game sticks out in my mind: Rise of the Triad.

I still remember the day I bought this game. I was at Walmart with my mom. Now, this was 1995 and computer gaming was a much more exciting genre than console gaming. When you went to a gaming department, it was typically split up into two sections for PC games: Full and Shareware. Basically you had the nicely packaged, highly expensive games and then you had the demo versions of those games for far cheaper. I personally enjoyed these more, especially because they took up less space on my computer hard-drive... Which was typically low due to the high amounts of MS Paintbrush files I was constantly creating (ah, the young graphic designer that I was). In any case, there I was, glancing at the games when I saw the shareware package of a game titled Rise of the Triad... I remember the woman on the cover. She wore a tight leather outfit, unzipped just low enough to peak an adolescent's interest, but just conservative enough to slip under the radar of a mother trying to frantically get her shopping finished. Naturally this inclined me to pick up the case and take a look at the screenshots... Keep in mind, I LOVED First Person Shooters. I had played through DOOM and Wolfenstein about 100 times at this point and I was aching for some fresh carnage. Not only did it fill the FPS void, it was also shareware-cheap, so dearest mumzy was sure to buy it for me!

Now, not to say this game was any more playable than the others... In retrospect, the controls were difficult and the graphics were nothing new... But what made this game memorable for me was the initiation of the GIB. I'm still unclear what the letters stand for (or if it's an acronym for anything specific), but in a nutshell, gibs are digitalized people fragments... I.e. guts that go flying in every direction when you obliterate your opponent with a bazooka. At this point, I had seen blood in video games... Mortal Kombat, Doom, etc... But oh man, I still remember the first time a bad guy in this game got crushed under a moving platform... I was at a distance and I could see the little red pixels go spattering in all directions, but milliseconds later a FREAKING EYEBALL practically landed in my character's lap!  I had never seen gore like that in an FPS. The enemies typically bled out and died in a red puddle... But now they were literally exploding all over the map! It was pure insanity! Eyeballs, limbs, guts, there was no body part which was safe... It was digital carnage. I must have played that first level a thousand times (after all, it was shareware, you only got like, 3 levels tops) and still wasn't tired of seeing people's retinas smashing against my screen.

Given today's generation of video games, this sort of thing probably doesn't sound that impressive or shocking... But this was a time when the ESRB was just forming, gaming was a lot more innocent... Heck, Duke Nukem 3D hadn't even been developed yet. So imagine going from playing Commander Keen a year earlier to having a corpse literally explode in your face... Not to mention that 3D environment made you feel like you were actually the one making people stew with your rocket launcher... Instant. Desensitization. And just to make the game a little more disturbing, the final level (of the registered full version, which I didn't play for at least another 3 or 4 years) had you running through secret passages and destroying baby fetus clones of the final boss... Who, by the way, becomes a giant floating head which, to this day, still wakes me up in a cold sweat from haunting my dreams.

So if you can get a hold on a classic that may or may not run on your fancy new PC, I'd suggest hunting this one down. It's worth the trip down the blood-stained roads of memory lane.

Ludicrous Gibs!
~ Mark

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