"I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum..."
While this quote is originally from John Carpenter's movie They Live, Duke Nukem manages to give it new life.
Duke Nukem is the latest entry in the 'Doom-style' shooters category. Several things put Duke ahead of the others in his field. First, the firepower is more extensive, explosive, destructive, than ever before including several 'strategic weapons'. The standard pistols, shotguns, machine guns and rocket launchers are all here, but there are also pipe bombs that you can trigger from a distance and 'tripbombs' that you can use to set traps. Weapons unique to Duke include the shrinker (Honey, I Shrunk the Invading Alien Menace) and the freezer, which freezes enemies solid allowing you to shatter them.
Second, the makers of Duke realized that they were making a violent game, and instead of trying to tone down the violence they made it as violent as they possibly could. The only courtesy to angry mothers everywhere is an 'adult password' that can be set to turn off the 'worst' of Duke Nukem 3D. Not satisfied with flying blood, exploding guts, and aliens coughing and choking on blood while they die, the game designers also included violence's traditional partner: sex. Second only to menacing aliens in number, are bikini-clad bimbos.
Everywhere you go in Duke Nukem there are scantily clad women. Posters for porn movies and sex shows line the walls, porno mags lie around on tables and couches. Start the projector in the movie theater and you get a show! Pressing the action button near some women (or even just some statues of women) causes them to open their blouses and give you a quick peek. (Don't worry, I didn't look) This is all done in a tongue-in-cheek manner and I am not personally offended, but readers are going to have to make their own calls on this one.
Where Duke really excels is it's beautiful backgrounds. The game settings are magnificently rendered. They have all kinds of animated objects built into them, and the attention to detail is terrific. Hopefully, with Duke Nukem on the scene, the days of endless identical looking corridors and rooms are finally gone for good! Unfortunately the price for these terrific graphics must be paid in hardware. The 'minimum system requirements' (listed at the top of this review) are really inadequate. To fully take advantage of all the graphics and features of Duke Nukem you actually need a fast Pentium 60 system or better.
Duke Nukem 3D also allows you to explore under water, watch your time if you don't have scuba gear! You can also fly through the air with a jet-pack, giving you a whole new perspective on the game.
The enemies in Duke are well animated and well varied, but they suffer from the same problem that plagues nearly all 3D games. They get pixilated and look stupid when they get close up.
The automapping in Duke is the best I have seen. Showing you a real time, overhead wireframe maps, or a full color overhead view.
While the basic controls are simple, advanced control of Duke can take a long time to master. This game may actually suffer from having too many controls. Aside from basic movement, firing, activating switches and doors, and weapon selection, there are keys to do the following: jump, crouch, spin 180, control and use items from your inventory, holster your weapon, aim up/down, look up/down, peek left/right, talk to opponents, and taunt opponents.
Duke Nukem is not really revolutionary, but it is very good game. The well known (by now) first-person format lends itself well to Duke, and the game sucks you right in. Even more fun are networked games where you get to blow away your friends. The thing that bothers me most about this game is the inevitable 'Duke Nukem Movie'. All this publicity is bound to become more personally irritating to me than anything since 'The Dukes of Hazzard'.