Duke Nukem 3D was one of the most groundbreaking PC games back in 1996. While many first person shooters, such as Doom, took a serious and somewhat ominous approach to the infantile genre, Duke Nukem 3D came in guns blazing, literally. With a loud-mouth, testosterone driven lead character, Duke Nukem 3D was filled with one-liners, strippers, and of course bloody action. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Duke Nukem 3D, Gearbox has put together Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, a celebration, and continuation, of the Duke Nukem 3D original release. So how does the Duke fair in 2016?
If you are unfamiliar with 90’s PC shooters, Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour may come off as a bit of a culture shock to you at first. The game has been visually remastered for 1080P, 60FPS, and given a true 3D atmosphere and backgrounds by altering the original source code from 1996. While many of the backgrounds look great from afar, up close it’s not as well done. Garbled and fuzzy textures can be seen all over the place, and the enemies, while polished up visually, are still their standard 2D character models, and not redone in true 3D. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, as I feel it helps retain some of the original feeling of the game, but it might be off-putting to newcomers to the series.
The gameplay in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is simple: pick up guns and shoot enemies. In true 90’s FPS style, you often have to find key cards to access the next area within the level, with some being hidden pretty well. Duke feels good in his old age, and playing with the PS4 controller felt very nice and fluid. You control Duke with the left analog stick, using the right to look around in standard FPS fashion. The controls for using inventory items, switching weapons, and everything in between can be fully customized as well to your liking. The default look sensitivity might be a tad to sensitive, but for the most part, Duke handles nicely.
In terms of content, Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour packs a good punch. The 4 original map packs from the Atomic version of Duke Nukem 3D are featured, which gives the game 33 maps. New to this version however, is a 5th pack: Alien World Order. This all new content features 8 levels which has Duke going all over the globe to interesting locations. These new maps are a welcome addition to the game, and give the game a total of 41 levels to blast your way through.
Also new to this version of the game are re-recorded and new one liners from the original Duke Nukem voice actor Jon St. John. The audio department of the game is well done, with a new score in Alien World Order as well. The music does seem a tad bit quiet, but the gun sounds and alien moans and groans while blasting through them sound nice and crisp.
Duke Nukem 3D was known for pushing the envelope in terms of sexuality, violence, and sex-based one liners, and thankfully all of that original content was contained and not censored in this version of the game. Strippers still take your money, references to drugs, bathroom humor, and general crudeness remain in tact, and even the new Alien World Order maps retain that original Duke Nukem 3D feeling in terms of content and tone.
The game also offers a unique feature as well when you die. You can rewind to any point of the level after dying instead of just starting the level over again, which is an interesting and helpful feature. Purists will want to avoid using this, but newcomers to the series will find this helpful if they aren’t familiar with the map layouts.
Finally, the game also offers online multiplayer as well. At the time of this review, there was no one playing on the servers, but that should change quickly. The game features 8 player online death-match, co-op, and a bot mode which is new to the series. The bot mode was fine in what I played, although a bit uninspired as it was just a bunch of other Duke’s running around the map blowing each other up.
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is a fun and nostalgic trip down memory lane for older gamers. While younger gamers might not understand the appeal of the Duke, for many of us, it was one of our first FPS games that we grew up on. It’s nice to see Duke rebound after Duke Nukem Forever, and the 20th Anniversary World Tour is a solid way to celebrate the man, the myth, and the legend known as Duke Nukem.