A good DooM-era FPS with great multiplayer!
If you like bizarre, off-the-wall humor, ROTT is one of the funniest FPSes ever made. With features like Ludicrous Gibs, Dopefish Mode, the suicide-themed game exit dialogues, the "Crezzy Man" difficulty, secret levels like "This Level Causes an Error!", and items like Dog Mode and Shrooms Mode, you can tell The Developers of Incredible Power had a blast making this game.
There are only three types of gun (one of which is just akimbo starting pistols), but a massive variety of rocket launcher-type weapons, ranging from plain-vanilla bazookas to outlandish death dealers like the Firewall, Drunk Missile, and Excalibat. With so many explosive weapons available, the game quickly becomes a bloodbath, with gore that beats out even the mighty DooM. ROTT also introduced a seldom-seen FPS feature, where the player can't lug a gigantic arsenal around on his back... you can carry two pistols and a submachine gun (all with unlimited ammo), a single "heavy" weapon, and that's it.
ROTT also features the most robust multiplayer of its time, with support for 11(!) players using a client-server system. Tons of multiplayer-only maps are provided, and aside from standard Deathmatch, there are special modes like Capture the Triad and Score More. The action tends to be more frantic and less skill based than DooM's (it's not uncommon to die immediately upon respawning multiple times in a row during particularly chaotic games), but it's hard to beat for a pure adrenaline-addled rush.
ROTT caught a lot of heat back in the day since it came out a year after the legendary DooM and honestly, some of it is justified. While Apogee added some fairly impressive effects such as fog and light sourcing, this is still the old Wolfenstein 3D engine, which means no changes in floor elevation and 90 degree walls. This leads to a lot of levels that feel the same, which is definitely a bad thing considering how many of them there are. The enemies are also pretty dull, as nearly all of them are machinegun-equipped human soldiers of some type. The end result is a single-player game that begins to resemble a dreary slog about halfway through.
The multiplayer, while still excellent, suffers from a few too many maps that are only suitable for the full 11 players, due to their size. Co-op play (rare in modern FPSes, but a common feature in 1994) is missing, which is a let-down because it could've made completing the main campaign a lot more enjoyable. And despite its use of a client-server system, it doesn't support dynamic joining and leaving of games. So, if you go out of sync (which happens with maddening frequency in 11-player LAN games), everyone else will have to exit out and the server will need to be restarted before you can get back in. Come on, Apogee... Descent came out the same year and it let you join games in progress, why couldn't you do the same?
The Bottom Line
Rise of the Triad may not have been on the technological cutting edge, but it kicked the FPS genre up a notch with its frantic, explosive gameplay, and set the multiplayer bar so high that it took 2 years before it was finally bettered by id's Quake (and that was only with the help of user modifications).