In today’s video game culture Duke Nukem is kind of seen as a bad joke. The main reason is due in part because his last adventure, Duke Nukem Forever, took fourteen years to finally release wherein it was raked over the coals by the press. For myriad of reasons mainly theorizing that maybe Duke was never good to begin with, or at the very least the video game and general media market had changed from the 90s. Despite this setback Gearbox has brought forth a Remaster in order to test how good his best performance truly was.
Duke Nukem 3D originally released on January 29, 1996 on MS-DOS computers. It’s been ported about as many times as George Lucas has gone back and ruined the original cuts of Star Wars aka a lot. Instead of sequels, other than Forever, Duke Nukem 3D received several episode updates. This entry, Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary World Tour, is a collection of all those episodes, upgraded to crisp HD visuals plus, amazingly, an actual new episode from members of the original team. That in it of itself is impressive and to Duke fans, an actual treat. However, I don’t think this game, or character, holds up.
I never grew up with PC first-person shooters, or for that matter, a PC in general. The first FPS I tackled in earnest was probably Medal of Honor: Frontline on PS2. That really doesn’t have a lot of merit to this review, but it’ll give some insight into my thoughts on the game’s structure. To be as blunt as Duke’s “jokes” are, it sucks. Levels are poorly designed similar to how Arcade developers made their experiences purposely hard in order to eat quarters. For Duke’s case, it was to elongate other wise short and simplistic levels by hiding key cards and objectives obtusely throughout stages. That and aliens and pig cops just kind of show up out of the blue to blast you to smithereens. It’s not so much difficult as it is an annoying process.
The thing I will praise for this game is the addition the rewind mechanic. If you are said blasted away, you can reverse time to any point in that level. Perhaps you only need ten seconds to change your outcome, or maybe there was an earlier spot that may prove more useful. It’s simple, but brilliant and more games should implement this feature. It may create some balancing issues old school fans may bark at, but who cares. Video games should try to be more open to a wider audience offering altering styles of play for all types. Options are great so good on you Duke. That’s probably the only time you’ll hear that non-sarcastically.
Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary World Tour, if it isn’t obvious yet, is bad. I appreciate what the team did in this Remaster what with the visual boosts, new episode, and time functionality, but the core game itself just didn’t appeal to me. It’s bland and yet too chaotic to feel cohesive. Fans may dig it, but if you’re new to the series like me I suggest you stay clear. Sorry Mr. Nukem, but like I feel towards Sonic, I think it’s high time you retire and let your presence stay in the 90s.
Review Score: 2/5 Stars