The Original Strife: Veteran Edition – Review

Title   The Original Strife: Veteran Edition
Developer  Rogue Entertainment
Publisher  Night Dive Studios
Platform  Windows PC
Genre  First-person shooter
Release Date  December 12, 2014

I do first person shooters in the same way that Andy Murray does Tennis and Justin Beiber does slightly shit music, which is to say that I do them a hell of a lot, and know plenty about them. If Andy Murray had never heard of Andre Agassi and Justin Beiber didn’t know who PJ and Duncan were, then you’d be well within your rights to laugh that them for their combined lack of knowledge in their field of expertise. So imagine my surprise when someone told me that Strife was getting a revamp and a re-release, and that it was a first-person shooter from the mid nineties. Christ, I was twelve years old – I was knee deep in Doom 2 and Duke Nukem – how did I miss this one? Quite easily, it seems.

Strife: Veteran Edition is the revamp of 1996 game Strife, released by the now-closed Rogue Entertainment. If I told you I hadn’t heard of them until I played Strife, I’d be lying, because they made the rather sexual Quake II: Ground Zero expansion pack back in 1998 and I played the tits clean off of that.  They also made American McGee’s Alice which, back in 2000, was very special and very awesome. It was creepy, the combat was challenging, and the story was fun. The sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, was worse than a rabid honey badger in heat, probably something to do with the fact that Electronic Arts have now become the gaming embodiment of Hitler and poor old developers Spicy Horse probably had all the creative freedom of an abused spouse.

So, Rogue Entertainment pass the test but does Strife? Well no, not quite by today’s standards. I’m all for a reboot or a revamp, or whatever the kids are calling it these days, but Strife just doesn’t tick all the boxes required for a modern shooter or a whimsical nostalgia trip. The game takes place in a world that is dominated by a dark cult called The Order. They’ve basically enslaved or converted most of humanity and you comprise part of the rebel forces leading the resistance against these cyborg bastards. Your job will see you complete various missions and objectives, killing various people along the way. The story doesn’t require much thinking, although it should be noted that you can interact with a large number of the population to gain more information or get more back story. For a game of this era this is quite unheard of, and Strife in itself was quite ahead of its time in that respect.

The missions that you go on are pretty standard for the most part – go here, kill this, go here, shut this off, and so on and so forth. There are some diverging story paths based on some decisions you make and, as mentioned previously, this was rare for a first-person shooter in the mid nineties. These are all actions to aid the rebels, who mostly chill out in their own base and offer fuck all help apart from upping some of your base statistics. There are some role-playing elements to Strife, whereby you can upgrade your accuracy or stamina. You’ll get a fairly decent array of weapons to play with throughout your adventure, although none are really explained in terms of effectiveness or general use. I personally enjoyed the main assault rifle because of its satisfying noises and general all-round effectiveness at kicking ass. The opposition you face actually put up quite a fight, and even on a regular difficulty they’ll provide a challenge for the unwary player.

There are plenty of hints at stealth as being an option for players wishing to take a more ninja-like approach, although how the stealth works is never explained, so players are left to bumble around and try to work out the rules from themselves. I tended to find that if I stabbed someone with my rather blunt knife, it counted as a stealth kill, even if they fired their gun a number of times. I even did this in full view of a couple of other enemies and they didn’t seem to mind either. Very odd, but ultimately useful.

The game all takes place in one large environment that isn’t split into separate levels, and features a main hub that you may be familiar with if you’ve played any Deus Ex game in the last ten years. Rather than have any segregated levels, players can roam around right from the off and do as much or as little snooping around as they want. It’s actually quite impressive to see how a game this old is actually heavily interconnected between different places, with secret areas to discover and little hideaways to find.

Being a game from the mid-nineties, and being a revamp rather than a full reboot, the game does suffer a little, graphically, if you compare it to anything post-1998 when Half-Life was released. Honestly, it doesn’t look as bad as it could have looked, so there’s that. It does still suffer from looking very dated and a little rough around the edges, though. That being said, it runs incredibly smoothly and the re-release has had some graphical work done, including support for higher resolutions.

The audio fares much better because someone made a fucking ace soundtrack for this game. It’s quite addictive and had me bobbing my head as I went flying all over the shop, shooting people in the face (fuck stealth), and not giving a shit who saw me do so. For a game that’s nearly twenty years old, the audio has stood the test of time and there aren’t many times I’m going to be saying that about music from the mid-nineties – the Spice Girls were a thing.

It’s difficult for me to sit here and tell you about reasons that Strife will provide you with longevity, because I honestly don’t think it will. I’ve attempted a number of times to get a multiplayer game, but with absolutely no luck  – lets face it, everyone is playing something much newer, and very few people are going to go back to something this old, which brings me to my main point.

As the games industry gets older, so do the titles it has released. What we class as a ‘classic title’ or a ‘golden oldie’, is getting more recent by the very passage of time – what I mean by this, is that in twenty years time, we’ll have a pang of nostalgia when we load Assassins Creed: Unity for a go (well, some of us will). To think in this manner is odd because, for games like Strife, they represented the start of something very important – the growth and commercial acceptance of our hobby. That being said, Strife isn’t a nostalgia trip for me because I never played the original – it just looks, sounds, and plays like a clone of a game I played in my youth. It’s a very important game to some people, and possibly to the culture of what games have become, because it dared to break a very successful mould – namely including RPG elements in an FPS title, while adding a number of other interesting attributes uncommon at the time.

But, for me, there are better examples of this gradual evolution to play – such as Deus Ex or System Shock 2, for example – and I feel this could be the way for a lot of people. Equally, I recently reviewed Shadow Warrior, which I’d never originally played back in its prime, but that wasn’t a re-release, it was a complete reboot and it was all the better for it. So that’s where Strife sits for me in this very awkward gap between trying to appear nostalgic and not quite managing it but failing to be good enough to consider itself modern or massively impactive in today’s market.

  • A hidden gem if you're a gamer of mid-nineties
  • Fun, fast combat
  • Good music
  • Inventory is a pain to navigate
  • Graphically doesn't hold up well
  • Fails to really imprint it's own identity in today's market.

If you played the original version of Strife, I can certainly recommend this because you'll likely really enjoy it. If you didn't, then there is nothing here for you, I don't think, at least nothing that you can't find elsewhere. This isn't a bad game; it's quite fun in places and I did enjoy it. It just fails to really grip me in any meaningful way, and I never really felt like I wanted to play it any longer than I needed to - even bad games sometimes have an attractive or addictive quality. Strife manages to be a good game in the wrong era and there's nothing wrong with that in itself, but for gamers today, if you want a nostalgia trip or a history lesson, this a chapter you can skip.

Our review policy

Last five articles by Chris


There are no comments, yet.

Why don’t you be the first? Come on, you know you want to!

Leave a Comment