Strewth, It’s Strife – Veteran Edition

Strife, originally released in 1996, could be seen as the answer to that most famous of critical questions in the history of gaming. Not ‘Were Sonic games ever any good?’ or ‘Do people actually enjoy racing games or do they just like the crashes?’ – not even the one about whether the 1982 E.T. game was actually the world’s first misunderstood arthouse walking simulator. Strife answered a very specific question, extrapolated from Edge’s review of the original Doom. What would happen if you could talk to the creatures? In Strife, you can. Eighteen years after its original release, the FPS-RPG is returning later today in a revamped ‘Veteran Edition’.

I must have been in my mid-teens when I played the demo of Strife and it didn’t take me long to nag my mum for enough dosh to buy the full version. My nagging skills were only good for one game every couple of months so I was showing an extraordinary commitment to this one, and with good reason. It was the first game since System Shock and Ultima Underworld that looked like it might push first-person games into new territories. Even then I was looking for the immersive sim. Released just a couple of years before Thief and Half Life fundamentally altered the course of FPS games, Strife is often forgotten.

It certainly deserves to be remembered but I’m not entirely convinced that it needs to be remembered in a brand new edition. New features are as follows:

Support for high resolutions, with proper aspect ratio.
OpenGL for video backend to provide portability and support for vertical sync.
Dynamic lighting and bloom
Widescreen support.
Ability to freely rebind all keyboard, mouse, and gamepad inputs.
Steam Achievements
Steam Trading Cards

And there’s a Capture the Chalice multiplayer mode, which was planned but cut from the original game, as was a special HUD for the Torpedo weapon and objective markers on the map. It’s out on Steam later today but the release date right there on the Store page says “Release Date: 31 May, 1996”, which pleases me no end.

29 Comments

  1. David Bliff says:

    With regard to Sonic:

    • Jason Moyer says:

      It’s actually #2 behind Far Cry but just ahead of Half-Life & STALKER.

    • Josh W says:

      Tiny me agrees, I always remember sonic being a game that you played over someone’s shoulder, encouraging them to go fast, or take a different path, only to find out that that path also lead to death.

      However, I loved the rings system. It meant that however bad you were at the game, if you could just grab another ring, you could keep going. This meant that you could keep going for quite some time being shouted at for your mistakes, before you had to glumly hand the controller over. The games had a strange mix of being very forgiving in terms of potential consequences, but very generous about handing them out. The game probably had quite a high skill ceiling for those who were willing to remember level layouts and find shortcuts, but we never got that far, so instead we would bundle our way through levels ending with only a handful of rings, if any. You were never under any illusion you weren’t doing very well at the game, but you were able to continue, without having to jump back to an earlier checkpoint or use up lives.

  2. Guvornator says:

    Your man Richard Cobbett did an excellent Crap Shoot of this link to pcgamer.com . I miss Crap Shoot. What, a tear in my eye? No no, it’s…it’s just dust (sniff)

  3. Anthile says:

    Strife, uh, finds a way.

  4. Risingson says:

    What amazes me most about Strife is something that happens with many other games: how people gives it credit for things that Origin games did years before with better technology. Other examples: System Shock, Ultima Underworld, Bioshock, etc.

    It is a cool game though.

  5. Schledorn says:

    Strife came out when I was a senior in high school. I spent half of the day in one computer lab taking various classes. We built the computer for the lab, so we had the ability to install whatever we wanted on them. Because I wanted to play Strife I set up a VPN with my home computer and used the school’s “broadband” to download the demo to all of the computers while the building was empty.

    When I got back to school that morning I was able to play to my heart’s content. It was wonderful fun.

  6. MadTinkerer says:

    Well, that proves it. Anything is possible. TRON 2.0 got re-released on Steam. The X Com franchise got a new turn-based tactical management sim and not an FPS. Chaos got remade. Ron Gilbert is doing a new low-res point & click adventure game. Ligers exist. A 58 year old man single-handedly saved the Canadian government by using Bullet Time in real life. And now Strife got an HD remake.

    Anything is possible. So maybe I’ll get Ultima Underworld III after all.

    Oh, and maybe Half Life 3 as well. But I haven’t been waiting as long for that one.

    • socrate says:

      wow just wow you brought an entire new level of stupidity to this world thank you /rolleye….god what is wrong with north america recently?

      • airmikee says:

        Talking to yourself online doesn’t work out as well as it does in real life, does it?

      • MadTinkerer says:

        And thank you for revealing an even deeper level of stupidity, that I was previously unaware of, by taking offense at what I had thought was a benign and uncontroversial joke. In fact, I’m not sure which joke offended you, but I’m stupid like that. /incidentallyemoticonsdontworkthatwayonrps

    • jrodman says:

      Thank you Mad Tinkerer, for your amusing comments. They are always a pleasure.

  7. Lord Byte says:

    Strife is one of my favourite games of all time, and about a year ago I replayed it in the ZDoom engine :) It’s got a wonderful story, and how they managed to cram that and multiple options to completing missions with effects that reverberated throughout the game in the fucking WAD engine still boggles my mind!

  8. Nintyuk says:

    The guy behind Freemans Mind semi recently did a video on strife for his Game Dungeon series here:
    link to accursedfarms.com

    It has all you could possibly want from a information standpoint about the game.

    • One Pigeon says:

      I logged in to post this and have to agree, Ross sums the game up really well.

      Here’s the youtube link for it too:

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      Well, okay, he sums up the game fine enough but see when he’s talking about Stealth being “tacked on”, he’s so clearly coming from the perspective of a modern gamer, like he’s forgotten that Strife came out before the original Thief introduced the world to a fully-developed Stealth system. The fact that a doom-engine game even HAD stealth – even wonky, inconsistent stealth – was pretty fucking mind-blowing at the time!

  9. Baf says:

    I finally got around to playing Strife a couple of years back, mainly out of historical interest, and I had a very hard time getting it running properly on my then-current machine. Even when I set it up with the right IRQ for soundblaster compatibility, the sounds were distorted by micro-pauses. Running it under VDMSound seemed to undo the effect of Compatibility Mode. DOSBox got the sound and music working, but trashed the framerate, unless I turned up the emulation speed a lot, at which point it started becoming unresponsive to the keyboard. Utlimately I wound up running it under ZDoom, which got everything running correctly except that I couldn’t examine inventory items and it used the standard Doom exit-game screens instead of the Strife variants.

    So I think a remake is a very good idea.

  10. Chaz says:

    You can talk to the creatures in Doom. They go “Wraggghhhh!” and you reply with a shotgun round to the chest. Or a chainsaw to the giant floating eyeball. Oh, the conversations we used to have. Good times.

  11. vorador says:

    Wait, it launched a mere month before Quake?

    I guess that’s the reason it went under my radar.

  12. sektor666 says:

    from what i can see, it’s the same old strife, only with a higher resolution and gl features, i.e. ran through gzdoom. wow.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Dukey says:

    Interesting that they’ve called it “The Original Strife” on the store page. Do you think this means there’s a new game in the works somewhere and they need to differentiate the name? Kinda like how “Shadow Warrior Classic” was released on Steam shortly before a new Shadow Warrior game?

  14. Haborym says:

    The original System Shock sounds pretty interesting. It also sounds hilarious. I just wish it was not so old and hard to get into :(
    Modern gaming has spoiled the shit out of me.