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Duke Nukem (DOS)

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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (41069)
Written on  :  Oct 22, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful

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If Arnie had a twin brother, it has to be Duke Nukem

The Good

Back in 1991, Apogee Software delivered a platform game called Duke Nukem, made specifically for PC , and it competed with other platform games made for the Nintendo and Sega consoles at the time. The player controls Duke Nukem who learns in the year 1997 that Dr. Proton, a lunatic scientist, has created an army of Tech-Bots and using them to take over the world. The city's military originally planned to put an end to this, but Proton was too powerful for them. So the CIA asks Duke to help.

Three episodes make up the entire game, and has the player battling enemies through downtown Los Angeles, on the moon, and finally in the future. The main enemies, of course, are the Tech-Bots, but the player also encounters Mech-Bots, Rabbitoids, Snake-Bots, choppers, and many others. Most of these take more than one hit to destroy, but the player doesn't need to worry about how much ammo their pistol contains – unlike future Duke Nukem games where the multitude of weapons have limited ammo, Duke has unlimited ammo in his first outing.

What's unique about Duke Nukem is that you can do stuff that other platform games won't let you do, such as shooting almost everything you see - not just enemies – such as security cameras, boxes, and bricks. There are three types of boxes you will come across, and the contents of each one varies, meaning you have no idea what you will open. For now, I can only tell you that the red boxes contain a turkey leg or a soda can, The good thing about health is that you can manipulate these. Shoot a turkey leg and an extra one will suddenly appear alongside it, giving you two health units instead of one. If you feel that you have enough health by the time you see a soda can before you, shoot the can and then collect it as it makes its way up the screen for a nice amount of points.

Besides having to collect colored keys to unlock certain doors, the items that you need to collect can be very useful in getting through the level. The grappling hook, for instance, will make you cling to certain platforms that are designed to be used in conjunction with this, and go across the platform normally. Duke's animation here looks amazing, and you can get Duke to lift himself up to the other side as long as there is any space above him.

When it comes to the graphics, most of the objects on screen are borrowed from games such as Mega Man and Turrican. The same does not go for the backdrops used, which range from a demolished Los Angeles to futuristic landscapes. They look amazing as you make your way toward the exit. I also like the way that the backdrops can change as you proceed through the level. Finally, I don't know if this technique already existed in platform games before it, but mainly in the Mercury Mines I saw Duke's reflection in the water, which is cool. Duke Nukem is also the first Apogee game to introduce proper cinematic sequences, both before and after each episode. The graphics in these sequences have that cartoon feel to them.

Duke Nukem was available in EGA only. There is no background music during the game, and sound effects are only through the PC Speaker. Although people think this is crap today, they must remember that VGA cards or Sound Blasters were not commonplace at the time the game was released. As a reviewer, I don't even care what the game looks and sounds like. When it comes to retro, it is the gameplay that matters. I understand that small companies had trouble obtaining new hardware and software as it is made available, and Apogee was one of them. Things didn't really kick off for them until they released Duke Nukem II.

The Bad


The Bottom Line

I consider Duke Nukem to be one of the best games Apogee has done, but it is nothing compared to its sequel, which features better graphics and sound, as well as more elements added to the gameplay. What I like about this game is the way you can manipulate what you see on screen and use a variety of gizmos to get through the level. The game was so popular at the time of release that, as well as a sequel, Apogee released a level editor which you can download from the 3D Realms web site.