"Damn! Those alien bastards are gonna pay for shooting up my ride."
The fact that I`ve used the word `bastards` in the opening sentence of this review tells you something about Duke Nukem 3D. This is a game with attitude! What we have here is a superb conversion of the PC original, thanks entirely to the coding skills of Lobotomy Software. The Seattle based `nutters` were brought in to handle the difficult task after impressing everybody with their own title `Exhumed`. But whereas Exhumed was a brain-busting mutha of a game, Duke is more of an all out shoot`em up, with lots of nice big guns and explosives available to you from the first level onwards.
After Duke`s spaceship is shot down he`s left to battle against alien troopers in locations such as strip-joints, porno bookstores and alien spaceports. It`s some of the aforementioned locations that give Duke Nukem it`s somewhat risque charm and also go someway to giving the game it`s 18 certificate. That`s a little over the top in my opinion. Sure, offering cash to hookers or mentioning the occasional profanity is mildly offensive to some, but hey, it`s only a game! And it`s all done in a light hearted cheesy-humour type way. Never mind, if anything, it`ll probably help to shift even more copies from the shelves!
All Dukes levels are extremely well thought out and feature numerous interactive bits, like light switches to illuminate darkened rooms, windows that can be broken, toilets that flush and so on. There are some clever little coding displays aswell like a pool table where the balls can be moved around and mirrors that show Dukes reflection. It`s these little touches that make Duke much more of an enjoyable and immersive experience. Whatever that means.
Despite the linear, level by level approach, things always remain interesting. Level 3 for example starts off with Duke frying in an electric chair, the next sees Duke in a sabotaged sub, so you always start with something to think about. The enemies aren`t particularly varied, but they all display an impressive amount of AI, following you around corridors or shooting at you from a distance.
Lobotomy seem to have some pretty good musicians working for them, most of the tracks are pretty cool electronic numbers that are re-workings of the originals. Thankfully there`s none of that soft rock pap that you get in most American games. Sound effects are what you would expect in a Doom `em up, but you have the added bonus of Duke-speak, where Duke adds a witty comment every now and then.
The overall quality of the conversion is exceptional, and in some places it improves on the original. Lobotomy have used a modified version of their own slavedriver engine that includes the fantastic lighting effects first seen in Exhumed. Weapons create an orangey glow on the walls when they`re fired, rockets leave trails etc. It`s not quite as colourful as Exhumed though, in my opinion. Some of the levels are pretty huge aswell. And I mean huge in an `outdoor, spacious` type way. It really is a brilliant technical achievement. You`ll be pleased to know the PAL version also runs at a cracking pace in full screen.
Oh, and did I mention Death Tank? You may remember that Death Tank was the hidden game included in the American version of Exhumed(Powerslave). Sadly, it didn`t make it in to the PAL version. A real shame, especially if you spent the last year trying to find all the fiendishly hidden Team Dolls only to disover it wasn`t there! So, to make amends it`s included in Duke, and it`s an updated version too. Quite simply, it`s one of the best multiplayer games known to man.
Any complaints? Well I suppose you could moan about the lack of inclusion of the extra levels from the add-on packs, but there are nearly 30 levels anyway. Other than that, there`s the fact that you don`t get to save the game until you`ve completed the level. But that`s a common console problem. That`s about it really.
Being honest, I came to this game expecting NOT to like it. I thought, "Yeah, yeah. It`s just an old PC game. So what?" But I was completely wrong. It really does deserve all the outrageous review scores. After a couple of levels I was engrossed. It`s a game that sits up and begs to be played. So go and play it.