Written by  :  kbmb (435)
Written on  :  Nov 13, 2002
Platform  :  Windows

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Welcome back, Duke!

The Good

Duke Nukem returns home to the side scroller platform genre in which he was born in a beautiful action game with glorious graphics and intense action. He may be back in his old genre, but he's bringing with him the attitude from Duke 3D, complete with hilarious one-liners, many of which are original this time*. Duke even pokes fun at himself. "Someone's going to pay for making me find these friggin' keycards!"

It would appear that a big bad villain Morphix is terrorizing New York, so they call upon Duke to save the world, and to save the babes. Duke, equipped with his golden eagle begins his adventure jumping from New York skyscraper rooftop to rooftop killing pig cops and quickly descends into the sewers and subways, deeper and deeper until finally he reaches Morphix's layer.

Any fan of platform games will feel right at home in Manhattan Project. While the game runs in a strictly side-scroller manner, often times the camera will pan around and rotate to reveal to you that you're not just running around in a bland 2D sides-scroller world, but a real 3D environment. But sudden camera twists will never confuse you, because your movement is strictly side-scroller, with the only exception being that sometimes there are alternate and optional routes you can take.

You have eight or nine weapons to your desposal, as well as the infamous "Duke kick" which deals almost as much damage as a shotgun. Throughout every level there are hidden secret locations and "nukes", which if you can gather all ten in the level, you'll receive a permanent bonus to your health and ammo capacity.

Every area consists of three levels (eight areas total - 24 levels), and at the end of every area you'll fight a boss. These bosses, while perhaps a bit easy, are a blast to fight. In one level you'll be hanging off the ladder of a flaming helicopter heaving pipe bombs at it, and the next you'll be riding a subway while a twenty foot-tall cockroach chases you.

The enemies you'll fight are typical, and reminiscent of earlier Dukes. You'll fight pig cops, armed with shotguns, mutant gaters with uzis, as well as some newcomers to the Dukes, like women in leather with whips and goo-spitting cockroaches.

The battles are fought in traditional side-scroller action. Duck, fire, jump and kick, bam! bam! jump back, hang from the pipe, bam! bam! collect dropped ammo and move on. Blood and guts will splatter onto the ground and walls in these battles, and if you're not careful you might find some of that is your own.

The camera movement is excellent. I loved the way you never seemed to be running in a straight line, like most side-scrollers. Often, you would turn the corner, or the camera would shift to an overhead view so you can make it across a difficult path a la Frogger all seamlessly as you marched on. If you can't see what you're doing, you're able to manually pan the camera as well.

Some of the battles can get quite intense, but if you're good (or as good as whomever stars in the demo that begins when you start the game) you can get through it with ease. I wish I could do it that good.

*Most of the one-liners from Duke Nukem 3D were swiped from Army of Darkness and other movies.

The Bad

While the fighting was fun, it did get really repetitive. Maybe if there had been more death animations or more blood or something it would have been better, but it gets a little old when you kill a pig cop, watch him fall, walk a few steps, kill another, watch him fall the same way, and do it over and over again. The death animations aren't particularly interesting, either. They just fall dead. Never a dramatic sort of "knock-back" to illustrate the power of your shotgun or anything.

Your automatic rifle, pistol and shotgun all use the same ammo. Perhaps the rifle and the pistol I can understand, but the shotgun?

The 2nd through the 4th or 5th areas all look identical. It's all sewer and rails, and it gets a little repetitive after a while, especially after the dramatic change from the rooftop-jumping from the first area to the sewer in the second.

This is perhaps just an issue with my video card, but some areas of the game ran awful! There was nothing more in these particular areas than any other, but the game would go from perfect frame rate to .2 FPS for a little while.

Surely there are more "bad" things about this game since it was made to be a platformer and nothing more, and it certainly accomplishes that.

The Bottom Line

For twenty bucks, you bet this is a great game! Fans of Duke or side-scrollers in general, or those wanting to get a bit of nostalgia from them good ol' days will feel right at home in Manhattan Project. It's a great game all around and will provide hours of entertainment.