When people think about first-person shooters from the 90s, the likes of Doom and Quake instantly come to mind, but they don’t always remember the other titles that dominated a genre that was once massively flooded with Doom clones and similar titles.
One of those often forgotten about and hugely underappreciated titles is Strife, a game that set a presedence for comprehensively mapped first-person shooters, rather than the level based maps that all FPS games utilised at the time. Comprehensive mapping eventually turned into the open-world or sandbox concepts that are widely used in games these days.
Developed by Rogue Entertainment and published by Velocity Incorporated in 1996. Strife is based on the Doom engine from id Software. The game’s story takes place in a world taken over by a religious cult known as ‘The Order’. The game’s protagonist, a mercenary, becomes a member of the resistance movement in their goal to topple the Order’s rule.
Strife was one of the first games to add some role-playing game elements to the first-person shooter formula. Features like allowing players to talk to other characters in the game’s world hadn’t been properly introduced into the genre previously.
The Original Strife: Veteran Edition is a remastered version of the original game built for modern monitors and to display at higher resolutions. Models and textures have received to a touch up to look more visually appealing but to still retain the 90s first-person shooter look.
Aside from a few visual improvements, the game is pretty much the same as the original. Strife looks and plays exactly how it did the first time I played it, but there are some welcome gameplay improvements, a good example of this is the use of a mouse is now fully supported, making aiming much easier to master.
The game’s audio is vastly improved over the original, whether this is down to the fact that I’m playing this on a modern system with proper sound modulation and ampulation, but the game’s audio and sound effects sound much clearer and crisper than they ever did, but that retro Doom-esque vibe is still in tact.
A great addition in this ‘Veteran’s edition’ is the Multiplayer mode, which was pretty much complete but never released when the original was launched. The multiplayer mode retains a very 90s tone, and is not the same as multiplayer shooters we’re used to, it follows the same type of style as Doom and Quake multiplayer modes. Nonetheless, its addition is quite welcome considering the uproar that not including this mode caused first time round.
Unlike the Dooms and Quakes around at the time, your objective is not to kill everything in sight and find the level exit. Rather, the game is built more like an RPG, with mission based objectives. You play as a wandering mercenary who joins the resistance toward a corrupt government of cyborgs known as The Order. All of the characters in the game are more memorable and really well voice acted. It also features multiple endings, and overall the story is really engaging.
Strife also features hub levels like Hexen, where you revisit a central town location regularly to purchase ammunition and health items prior to a mission. The game also takes place in an interconnected world similar to Metroid. Where you can backtrack to prior mission areas if you so desire to uncover secrets you might have missed. Later on in the game the levels get much more sprawling and the level design in general gets more unique.
Making a game like Strife play as good as it did, if not better, than when it was first released a few decades ago may seem like a horrifying and daunting task, but they’ve really delivered with this Veteran’s Edition.
Overall, The Original Strife: Veteran Edition is a great game with a fantastic storyline, especially if you finish it, which is not an easy task. In a time where games are made to be as graphically appealing as possible and are packed with crazy SFX and cutscenes, Strife allows you to take a step back and realise that, without all of that, you can still enjoy a really challenging, gripping shooter that leaves you wanting more.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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