Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39505)
Written on  :  Nov 29, 2002
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars

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Duke enters the third dimension. Well, sort of...

The Good

Duke Nukem's third outing may have been the king of first-person shooters, and it is the one that had many people become interested in the franchise. But for me, it started way back around the early Nineties when they were simple platformers, and they were not made by 3D Realms. I liked playing the Duke games, so when 3D Realms took control of the franchise and turned it into a first-person shooter, I didn't give a shit. All I cared about is that it had Duke in it.

Duke Nukem 3D can be considered a stand-alone game as it doesn't follow on where the sequel left off. However, the setting remains the same. While Duke is out cruising his ship, someone blows it up but Duke manages to propel down just before it crashes into a skyscraper somewhere in Los Angeles. Later, he finds out that the same aliens responsible are abducting women and using them for their evil intentions.

There are thirty levels in the game, spanning three episodes. Duke goes around each level blasting many types of enemies, and unlocking doors with three different keycards, in order to get to the exit. The enemies include Pig Cops, Enforcers, Sentry Drones, Protozoid Slimers, and Octabrains. In my opinion, the Octabrains are the most disturbing one I have seen. Not only do they look hideous, but they make disturbing noises as they try to seek your out or you put a bullet through them.

Duke3D introduces a number of firsts, as far as the FPS genre is concerned. You can use security monitors to either spy on enemies or find out what's ahead of you, crawl through vents to access hidden areas, interact with the environment, and use jet-packs to get to hard-to-reach areas. You will also see women attached to pods in most levels, and they will all say “Kill Me” when you try to interact with them. I found it very amusing that since they are crucial to the alien's plot, putting them out of their misery will result in enemies appearing out of nowhere. The game also has cut-scenes that normally appear at the end of each episode. Most of them are excellent, but are rather gory to look at. That, and the nature of the game itself, caused Duke3D to be rated 18+ in most countries.

Each level represents a real-life location. In the first episode, for instance, you start out in a movie theater and then goes on to a gun shop, a prison, and the location of San Andreas fault. In the third, you get to explore a Japanese restaurant, a L.A. transit system, a radio station, hotel, and a stadium. I'm sure that there are other locations that you can visit, but I'm not listing every one of them. It was fun for me to explore the many locations in the game, to see what I could do and see.

In Duke3D, as well as future Duke games, Duke is voiced by Jon St. John which also did a number of characters in other games. He is perfectly suited for the role, and has thousands of lines that are worth listening to. I found that the only way to keep him talking was to use my RPG or Devastator, so that he can say things like “I am going to put the smack dab on your ass” and “You guys suck”. The highlight is jet-pack all the way to the top of the map and switch it off so Duke falls such a great distance, and hearing him make a falling sound then make another one has if he has been kicked in the groin.

There are many more items to get besides the jet-pack, including first-aid kits and steroids; and one of my favorites is the HoloDuke. I know that this item is used in multiplayer games as decoys (I remember using it in a MP game myself, but it didn't work.), but I used the cheat to give me all items, and see how many HoloDukes I could have at once. I had about ten of them, and it is quite funny to see them (try to) follow your every move. Watching enemies put a bullet in these decoys instead of you is also entertaining.

Although this game has “3D” in the title, there are no 3D graphics in it. It is just a fad that companies used in the Nineties in an attempt to sell first-person shooters. Like Wolfenstein 3-D four years earlier, all the graphics are in 2.5D, including the enemies and backgrounds. Almost everything is chunky, and the only way you can get real 3D in the game is to download the High Resolution Pack and play the game in Polymer mode. With the HRP, the earth and moon in episode two never looked so good.

Duke Nukem 3D is set sometime in the future, so you will hear laser gun sounds when most of the enemies fire at you. The sound effects are great. The one I like is the Pig Cop squealing after you killed him. The background sounds provide some atmosphere to the game. In the street levels, for instance, as you explore the surroundings you hear the sound of a helicopter flying past, while in episode two, the normal “door opening” sounds are modified to sound space-like.

The Bad

As soon as you each the final level of episode three, you come face to face with the Cycloid Emperor in the stadium. Considering that you have to go through an entire level to meet the boss in the previous episodes, I think the developers were too lazy to design this last level in such a way that Duke has to walk a long distance to reach the stadium. Also, it's ironic since Duke3D is an adult-only game, we don't get to see him have sex after he defeats this last boss. (Though the sound effects suggest that he does.)

The Bottom Line

So, Duke Nukem 3D is a brilliant first-person shooter that introduces new gameplay mechanics. These include looking at security monitors, crawling through vents, and blowing up objects in the game's many levels. Each level's soundtrack is excellent, as well as the numerous sound effects. Sure, there were a couple of platform games before the game's release. However, Duke3D isn't a continuation of the story from the second game. Anyone who loves first-person shooters should get this game, but it would be a bonus if they find the Atomic Edition.