A campy, underrated classic shooter
Originally conceived as the sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, the production shifted into a unique project some way through. Although it uses an exponentially-enhanced Wolf3D engine, you'd never be able to tell -- the graphics were some of the best of their time, beating Doom in a lot of regards.
The gameplay featured several playable characters, each part of a super-elite A-Team type of task force assigned with eliminating a cult of Nazi-like crazies. The AI was world-class for its time -- enemies duck, roll, play dead, and steal your weapons. The sheer array of destructive weapons is enough to keep anyone entertained -- heat-seeking missiles, firewalls, fire-and-forget energy balls, and several others make this one of the best shooter arsenals ever created. Campy humor permeates the games: fantastic gore and exclamations of "Ludicrous gibs!" reward the player for well-aimed missile attacks; the characters dress in costumes for different holidays; psychedelic mushrooms are featured as a power-up, causing the player to become disoriented and see colors.
Where other games of the time took themselves seriously, Rise of the Triad made the FPS seriously fun.
The overall campy tone of the game meant that it lacked suspense in some areas where it would have benefited. A lot of the levels start to get repetitive, and considering the sheer number of them, it gets a little boring. Although there are five playable characters, there is no discernible difference in playing one over the other. The textures can be bland at times, and some of the sprites are altogether too cheesy (see end boss El Oscuro's grimace of pain).
The Bottom Line
One of the many legitimate games that fell victim to the "Doom-clone" curse; it's been done before, but never this fun and this destructive.