Retro Review: Rise of the Triad: The H.U.N.T Begins (MS-DOS)

Review-Rise-of-the-TriadTo promote the upcoming spiritual-successor to Wolfenstein 3D known as Rise of the Triad, Apogee Software developed a shareware version of the game entitled The H.U.N.T Begins. It offered a nice selection of levels that would not actually appear in the final game, alongside a few multiplayer maps. To its merit, these missions do make for a great time for any ROTT fan, and it delivers enough content for any curious, trigger-happy players who have never tried the main game but want a taste of what things are like.

The H.U.N.T Begins is a prequel to the main game. An evil cult known as the Triads, under the rule of a mysterious dude named El Oscuro, have managed to take over the Gulf of Santa Catalina in hopes of launching a devastating attack against the United States. The island is full of monasteries, traps and nasty people armed with guns, meaning the only folk tough enough to handle dangers like these is one of the five members of the High-risk United Nations Task-force.

In the main game, there are a choice of five characters of different stats, gender and nationalities. However, in this, only the character with balanced speed and health is available, in hopes that players for the time would be interested in trying out the others in the main game rather than replaying it with each character. Thankfully, it is included with many ROTT bundles these days and can be downloaded for free legally, with every character available. Still, back then it was difficult to spot playable female characters or even African American protagonists in shooters, meaning Apogee was touching some new ground here.

The game relies on a heavily-modified version of the Wolfenstein-3D engine, meaning levels feature strict, ninety-degree walls and ceilings with fixed heights. Some of the missions can be a bit linear as well, but otherwise most of them offer the right balance of difficulty and enjoyment, perfect for those new to it all. There are eight levels in all, two of which are secret missions. COMM-BAT missions are also available for multiplayer use, and some other silly missions can only be accessed by cheats. The Deluxe Edition added more multiplayer and warp-only levels as well.

Many, many features are successfully pulled off by this modified engine, the kind that would make even Doom jealous! There are bounce pads, pushable walls, destroyable items, the ability to cook porridges with explosions to grant a bigger health boost, lifts, floating pads that can be rode to reach areas (some seem to prevent the player from moving under it, which is irritating), fog, a randomizer that swaps enemies around after rebooting or re-loading a game, and much more. These are not just gimmicks, they add a lot of meat to the game and will make you forget about those pesky maze like corridors. Sod stairs, who needs 'em when you have moving platforms and gates that can be walked under and climbed upon, anyway?


Beware of the traps that lurk around each corner. Aside from hidden pads that will reveal enemies, there are grinders, spikes jumping from holes, fireball-launching cannons in the walls, moving firewalls, and so on. They tend to launch or move on a strict pattern, meaning getting past them is a matter of patience, or by deactivating them with a switch. There are oodles of secret areas to find, so look for a suspicious looking wall or wander around until you step on a touch-plate. Otherwise, just bum all the walls until one of them moves.

Focusing on the armory in The H.U.N.T Begins, the standard bullet weapons are less than impressive. A weak and flimsy pistol is the gun you start with, whch can be dual-wielded an with another handgun for double the firepower. After that, an MP40 submachine gun can be looted. After bagging one of those, you're literally set for life, until you come across some bazookas or the like for dealing with tougher foes or swarms of the Triads. Bullet weapons come with unlimited ammo, and are not very satisfying to use, especially considering the best thing to do is either toggle to the SMG or to the explosives, or wait patiently and fire away until the Triad guards' stomachs are filled with a few tonnes of lead. Fans of weapons like the shotgun will be disappointed here.

On the other side of the coin, explosion-lovers will find rapture with the oodles of cannons and launchers available. From the standard bazooka and homing missile launcher to the rocket-spewing Drunk Missile, there are oodles of ways to decimate foes. Only one can be picked up at a time, and they cannot be reloaded, so swapping them with different launchers with more ammo will provide a challenge for any weapon-hoarder. Two of the magic weapons are not available here and can only be found in the main game, but they're nothing too special.

Certain power-up that will transform you into a floating fella, an invincible god with fireballs or a dog with a super-sonic bark are available too, which are brilliant fun to use. Alongside this, negative power-ups that will make you bounce everywhere or hallucinate like mad are there to make things awkward (don't do drugs, kids)! Alongside this, there are oodles of ankhs that serve as pick-ups, granting an extra life with every hundred collected, yet with a save option available, what's the point? What about a full-heal instead? Speaking of points, another useless inclusion is a point system, which is not particularly important and is only there for whose who love bragging.


From the standard bazooka and homing missile launcher to the rocket-spewing Drunk Missile, there are oodles of ways to decimate foes!

A large selection of enemies from the main game are ready to battle, some of which will only appear in the later episodes. Even if they mostly use pistols and SMGs (and on occasions, explosives), these dudes don't just wander around whilst shooting. Even the weakest guards can pretend to be a corpse, whilst higher-ranking Triads can perform rolls, toss grenades, play dead to fool and flank the merciful, as well as bounce around on the jump pads.

It may be a shareware episode, but The H.U.N.T Begins will offer lots of resistance. Don't get comfortable! One of the green troops will sometimes be swapped with a missile-launching variant, who can usually kill you in one hit. They're annoying as hell and there's no way to know if he's packing this amount of heat as well!!

Because most items, weapons and enemies are digitized versions of real things and people from the office in dress-up, the graphics look very detailed for its time. Even most of the sounds are of great quality and aren't all some stock sounds pulled from a sound effect CD. The MID tracks composed by the talented Lee Jackson (and a few by Bobby Prince) add to the game some enthusiastic and funky tracks that made for great listens, alongside a few ambient tunes to set the mood and some generic tracks that aren't too engaging.

The H.U.N.T. Begins works very well as a demo of the game, for not only does it show off some of the juicy bits that Rise of the Triad offers, but it even makes for a fun romp around for those who are already knee-deep in the main game with its pile of available levels. Despite its technological shortcomings, more specifically referring to the geometry of each map, this will make for a great taster for any fan of old school shooters, provided they can still stomach maze-like maps similar to those found in Wolfenstein 3D regardless of all the bells and whistles that the self-proclaimed Developers of Incredible Power hand out.

Rise of the Triad: The H.U.N.T Begins (Gameplay)

Last Updated ( 12 July 2015 )  

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