Rise of the Triad (RoTT) was ported over to the iPhone and iPod Touch just this month. It is a retro styled first person shooter that plays like earlier FPS games such as DOOM, Duke and Wolfenstein. I haven’t played much of retro FPSes but I do remember DOOM being a really fun game back then. Didn’t hear much of RoTT except that it was supposedly a sequel or expansion to that of Wolfenstein 3D.
You play as a character within a team of special operatives. You are sent to an island to investigate a deadly cult activity held in an ancient monastery. You learn that the cult is planning on destroying LA. You get the idea, stop them from doing what they are planning to do and save the day. For that you will be killing and destroying your way through to save the other millions of lives. You can choose from 5 different characters to play with in different difficulties. Different characters have different abilities for example some can move faster while another can take more hits before dying.
For a FPS game to be successful as an iPhone game, the controls have to be smooth. It is extremely vital for such a game for even if you have an endless range of weapons, fun enemies what so ever, poor controls would simply frustrate players and thus making the whole game boring and unplayable. RoTT has several control schemes. Sounds fantastic at first but really all of them don’t work well at all. There are several methods to control your character from that of using 2 dpads or 1 so on and so forth. The smoothest of all the control schemes for me is the control method called Advanced Scheme 1 I think. It basically uses 2 dpads, one for movement and the other for aiming. Shooting is done by pressing anywhere else on the screen. This seems to be the best however it does has its own flaws. For one, I find shooting terribly annoying for the space of the dpads seem to be taking up almost 3 quarters of more of the screen, thus when shooting I often find myself tapping the dpad instead. Other aspect such as the aiming itself isn’t that smooth even with a sensitivity setting available. Overall there is quite some room for improvement for the controls.
I seldom talk about the game controls at first but I do have to say that because of the controls, the gameplay of the game becomes less fun. I mean the game overall is fine. Enemies come at you, shoot them kill them and so on. There are hidden switches at walls and activating them result in additional power ups and weapons. There are several weapons that you can pick up later on and some of them are rather interesting for example god mode where you start shooting out homing magical balls at enemies and vaporize them, killing them instantly.
Levels are quite open in the sense that there is one definite path you have to follow but there are choices to explore certain areas if you want to do so. A minimap is available to guide you in case you are lost within a level. Within each level you get to face enemies of different types. The unique thing that surprised me and made me smile is the fact that some of them will pretend to play dead or beg for mercy. When you lose your focus or turn your back on them, they start shooting you; A rather nice touch to the game.
The difficulty of the game can be felt right from the start even when played on the easiest difficulty. In some rooms, enemies appear to be in groups and start shooting you. Before you can kill them you will have already taken quite some damage to yourself. Replenishing health with food etc is available but far from enough and this might turn off some of the new beginners in such games. Dying will be frequent and if you don’t save occasionally, you will have to start from right at the beginning of the level. There is no checkpoint system of any sorts and you will have to rely on constantly saving if you do not wish to replay the whole level upon death.
What I loved about the game is how smooth it runs. I’m not talking about the controls but how the game doesn’t have long load times or jerky frame rates. Even with the 1st generation iTouch, RoTT ran as smooth as silk. Now only if the controls were a little better. Other than that the retro graphics are as retro as ever, sound effects and music bring back old memories. The game concept itself is fun, presentation in terms of graphics and sound effects are there already. All it lacks is the final touch up in the controls and perhaps some kind of checkpoint system where it doesn’t punish players too hardly when they die. I would love to see other game modes present as well such as multiplayer and maybe some kind of survival mode etc (If I remembered correctly there were more than one mode in the original version).
There are certainly many other FPSes for the iPhone that are much better than RoTT. For players completely new to that of such retro FPS games, I would suggest you stay away and look at other options first. RoTT for the iPhone is there mostly for the fans and players from the old days.
iTunes Appstore Link: Rise of the Triad $4.99