Duke Nukem 3D was a ground-breaking title back in the day with cutting-edge graphics.
John Romero broke the first-person-shooter mould with Doom in 1993 and its 1994 sequel, smashed it apart with Quake in 1996, and then Duke picked up the pipebomb and ran with it – albeit sticking with sprites rather than Quake‘s polygons for objects, enemies and scenery, such that it doesn’t look as ‘advanced’ as similar other games of the genre, with a game that I would give up oxygen and food to play. When Bryan Adams sang in his hit ’80s song Summer of ’69 – “played it till my fingers bled”… well, I was the same with this. Well, I didn’t injure myself, but you get the idea.
Fans of the original will remember the line “I’m gonna rip off your head and shit down your neck!”, as Duke headed off to kill the final baddie, delivering on his promise once his mission was complete.
There is a plot, of sorts – you begin in Area 51 and have to stop alien scientists intent on taking over the Earth, having already taken over that top-secret government base. Back in 1996, I spent many happy hours trying the same scene several times over, blowing away to kill the pig cops with different methods, or trashing the cinema, or sneakily throwing a pipebomb into one of their dugouts, then inspecting the blood and guts afterwards. Nice!
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour – Alien World Order Part 1 – AlChestBreach
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour has only six sections including the prologue but, like the levels in Beyond Two Souls, they last for seemingly random lengths of time, and I wish it was more structured in telling you how many sections each one takes, so you know how far you’re through, as you can’t always complete one in one go, and I didn’t want to quit out to the campaign menu part-way through and risk having to restart it.
Between then and now, at one point I tried it again and somehow it didn’t quite cut the mustard for me. I think this was down to how much games have moved on in the intervening time (although while the graphics have improved in general on a lot of titles, the gameplay of some leaves a lot to be desired). 20 years on and I am getting back into this, properly, a second time round, although I have forgotten a lot of what I learned last time, in terms of how to make it through each level, so I won’t embarrass myself with any terrible gameplay of myself dying a million times. That said, this new releases does have an easily-accessible set of cheats including God Mode, so you can’t die. I stopped short of also choosing infinite weapons as I love to find them here and there, so to have them all from the off would make me feel a bit of a… y’know, cheat.
If you choose not to cheat, then I also love that you can rewind time when you die, to look for a point where you were doing reasonably well and continue from there. It’s far better than simply repeating the whole of – or a section of – a level.
The addition of a new set of levels as the fifth episode, Alien World Order, are hugely enjoyable and while the graphics have only had a slight revamp – a True3D Rendering mode with better 3D modelling and lighting, which you can toggle on/off to suit, although I preferred this new look – and still come across as very “’90s”, would you really want the sprites replaced by modern-day polygons? It just wouldn’t feel very Duke Nukem, would it? And just look at those beat-em-ups which trade on a retro look – everyone still loves those, so there’s certainly mileage in new games featuring retro graphics. In addition to that, on a modern PC, they play as fluid as water.
Audio comes in Dolby Surround, again apeing the retro vibe, since most new games are in DTS 5.1 these days. It still packs a punch, of course, and includes new dialogue recorded by the voice of Duke, aka Jon St John. In addition, there’s a Legacy Duke Talk option with the original sound files for Mr Nukem’s one-liners, plus an optional Developer Commentary while you blast everything.
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour – Walkthrough Gameplay (No Commentary) – Father
There’s been more versions of Duke Nukem 3D over the past two decades than you can shake a few dollars at – even including a bit of a ropey one on the Gameboy Advance back in 2002, and while this new PC (plus PS4 and Xbox One) includes a brand new level, oddly, for some reason, it’s missing the expansion packs from the Kill-A-Ton Collection and Megaton Edition.
I’ve also tried the multiplayer option and… well, I say tried, but over two separate nights, the first time I saw someone already with a game lobby in progress (with just one other player) which I joined, and then the lobby connection was lost a minute later before anything in particular happened. The second night, there were no lobbies open at all. Both times, I could’ve created my own, but is there really no-one playing it?
If you’ve never played Duke Nukem 3D before, in any form, then you really should. There’s a great deal of fun to be had and, at around £14.99, it won’t break the bank.
- Publisher: Gearbox Software
- Players: 1, multiplayer
- HDTV options: 720p/1080i/1080p
- Languages: Duke 😉
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour – Complete Trophy Walkthrough – NukeFighterNO1
Director: George Broussard
Music: Lee Jackson and Bobby Prince
Duke Nukem: Jon St. John
Fat Commander: Lee Jackson
Voice: Lani Minella
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.