Written by  :  Zovni (10665)
Written on  :  Nov 21, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic little gem that proves that you can still kick ass well under the 20$ mark.

The Good

You would expect a bargain bin-direct spin-off to a beloved franchise to be a shameful and boring accident for everyone. Truth is, Manhattan Project is a fantastic little gem that is worth much more than it's bargain bin price of admission.

The idea was to give Pc gamers something to tide them over until Duke Forever gets released.... right... anyway, so 3D Realms licensed their main man for a quick return to it's 2D roots in the form of an action-oriented sidescroller. The trick behind it is that regardless of the gameplay style the game uses a fully polygonal engine that allows the camera to zoom in on the action and change perspective on the fly for a more cinematic action, besides allowing for the use of particle and colored lighting effects a fully polygonal environment allows for, making for a considerably more spectacular experience that the usual sidescroller.

Taking place in a mutant-infested Manhattan, the game follows a classic Duke storyline: bad guy Morphix is flooding the city with the mutagenic Glopp Umbrella Corp.-style, but instead of turning everyone into zombies Glopp turns harmless lizards into giant kung-fu fighting monsters, cockroaches into gigantic man-eating beasts and cute piggies into the good ol' pig cops. On top of that Morphix has kidnapped dozens of girls and attached Glopp-bombs to them, and we all know Duke ain't having none of that, so packing his arsenal of weapons and equipment(which include the classic lineup of items from Duke3D as well as some new goodies such as a de-mutating Glopp gun) Duke sets forth to kick some ass while jumping around and saving some babes.

The levels are all simplistic affairs in which you have to collect unlock the exit, find a babe and defuse her bomb, and demolish everything in the middle. Fortunately top-notch level design with plenty of good platforming action and a lot of charisma in the enemies, items and locations take the tedium out of the experience and give the game a fresh look and feel.

As in every platformer you have secret hidden areas, powerups and all sorts of extras in each level which are always fun things to unhide, specially when they award you juiced-up versions of your weapons and other niceties as in this case. Add to that the traditional Duke-isms (by now expanded beyond being Evil Dead ripoffs) as well as good production values for a game of this kind and you have one of the best platformers for the PC in a while.

The Bad

Kind of short (the lenght is where the "budget release" tag in the game is most felt) and truly lackluster boss fights (which should be a high mark in these kinds of games).

Besides that there are some weird ass bugs that caused me to restart at least one level (another consequence I believe of developing a game for a budget release).

Also it comes with a Duke Forever trailer which is extremely sad, specially considering that the game looks quite good.

The Bottom Line

Quite a good release that proves that budget titles don't need to be horsecrap. Add a profitable license, proven gameplay mechanics and a group of developers willing to put some heart into their product and you have a title that delivers the best Duke-fun since the seminal Duke Nukem 3D, and that's counting the gazillions of console-born sequels and spin offs.