13| Duke Nukem 3D

Released: January 29th, 1996

Available On: PC (all major OSes), PS4, Xbox One, PS3, XBox 360, PS Vita, N64, iOS, Android, PS, Saturn, MD

With the release of Doom in December 1993, there were soon seemingly countless titles emulating the game's formula. After existing in the country's mainstream culture for around 20 years, there was finally a video game that mastered a tight formula around America's love affair with guns. As such, Doom was a major success, and every company wanted to cash in. So much so that there were "doom clones" found in cereal boxes (the game was supposedly pretty good by the way, which is shocking). Released at the absolute height of FPS domination was "Duke Nukem 3D". A sequel to what was essentially a 2D platformer, Duke Nukem 3D was a dramatic shift from the original game to say the last. It was welcomed change because what resulted was arguably the greatest FPS of all-time, and in my opinion the best in the "run-and-gun" FPS subgenre.

For those unfamiliar with Duke Nukem 3D, it essentially Doom, but better. It has the same labyrinth style level design and fast paced run and gun gameplay. The key difference between the two titles is that Duke Nukem 3D is just...well a far superior game. Duke Nukem 3D has bigger and more complex levels, more challenging and original enemies, and is just far more ambitious overall. It may sound like I'm generalizing a bit too much, but there really isn't any other way to describe the game. Duke Nukem 3D simply replaces Doom's demons and the possessed with aliens and the mutated, and just ups the ante in every aspect. If you like Doom, you will LOVE Duke Nukem 3D.

Playing the game for the first time ever in 2013 was a real experience. I literally played the game for hours upon hours for days until I beat it. One thing that really stood out to me about the game, was how much more advanced it was compared to modern FPSes. This especially was ringing true since I then recently finished Bioshock: Infinite and tried my hands with Crysis 2 a couple of months earlier.

This image often get ridiculed, but the reality is that it is pretty accurate. Playing Crysis 2 or Bioshock: Infinite, the games were pretty much "run forward, kill things, repeat". In contrast, Duke Nukem 3D was much MUCH more complex. The maps are multi-layered with tons of doorways and rooms to explore. Backtracking is very common and finding secrets and hidden areas are often a must in order to progress the game. Sure, much of the areas are a little ridiculous and at times seem to be designed by H.H. Holmes. But at the end of the day they made you want to explore and most importantly think of how to progress to the next area. That said, it just isn't the map design that is more advanced. Duke Nukem 3D boasts an impressive arsenal of deadly and varied weapons. The player can carry 9 weapons at a time. Some of these weapons include the freezethrower to turn enemies into blocks of ice or the Shrinker that shrinks enemies so that the player can stop on them. This also of course includes the bread and butter weapons such as the pistol, shotgun, and RPG. In contrast to this, most modern FPSes rarely let the player carry more than two weapons at a time. This is likely due to the fact that most FPSes today are designed with consoles in mind, meaning that offering a lot of weapons at a time to the player is a big no-no, as switching between weapons is a pain on a traditional controller. This also ignores the fact of how boring the weapons are. When a shotgun is seen as the "oh shit!" weapon in your game, you know the weapon choices are pretty shitty. There are many other things as well, but bottom line is that playing Duke Nukem 3D really displays just how watered down the genre has gotten over the years.

Arguably the biggest thing that people claim that makes Duke Nukem 3D stand out is the presentation. The title character is portrayed as a "no fucks given" crew cut 80's action hero badass. He constantly uses one liners and has no problem going into strip clubs or hitting on the ladies. The game also has a lot of humor such as having the LAPD all turning into mutated pigs and various pop culture references throughout the maps. I emphasized that this is what people claim, because through my playthrough I didn't really notice this that much. I mean sure Duke Nukem is portrayed as a self-parody badass, but outside of a few one liners throughout a stage and a ten seconds cutscene after the seldom boss battles, it isn't really that noticeable. The pop culture references are a nice touch, but even these aren't that common. The game certainly isn't a Working Designs title.

As I said before, what makes the game great isn't the wacky humor and atmosphere, but that it is such a well designed title. Unfortunately, 3D Realms never got this message. It seems that ever addition to the series that followed Duke Nukem 3D was a disappointment. The first expansion pack "The Birth" had piss poor level design. The maps weren't that simple, but they weren't really fun to explore. However, pop culture references in the game were literally everywhere. I admittedly haven't played the other expansions, but they look much more similar to The Birth than the main game. Duke Nukem 3D's sequel, appropriately titled "Duke Nukem Forever", was pretty much a running joke for the longest time. To make modern gamers under the age of 25 understand the whole hubbub about the title's history, the game essentially out "The Last Guardian"..."The Last Guardian". It was in continuous development for 14 years. It was plagued by delays and rebuilds all the way up until it's final release in 2011. The thing is that 3D Realms technically never finished the game. In 2009, 12 years after the game was being developed, 3D Realms announced that they were severely downsizing the company, and that Duke Nukem 3D's team would be let go. However, Gearbox software, mostly known for the Borderlands titles, agreed to finish the game and released it. The result is one of the most disappointing, broken, and shitty games of all-time. You can say what you want about "The Last Guardian" but at least the game was functioning and playable, however Duke Nukem Forever was just flatout unfinished. And is likely one of the most disappointing moments in gaming history, but being honest...it was kind of expected.

As far as I am considered, I view the Duke Nukem franchise much like I do with the Secret of Mana series. You have one or two really fantastic titles in the series, but with a bunch of other tiles that range from being mediocre to just piss poor. It's very unfortunate, but it seems that with the release of Duke Nukem Forever the title character will finally be put out of his misery. I one day just hope that the genre goes back to its roots.

Posted by Punk Rebel Ecks Sun, 01 Jan 2017 20:21:14 (comments: 4)
Mon, 02 Jan 2017 11:17:07
I loved Zero Hour on N64
Tue, 03 Jan 2017 08:23:30

The only Duke game I've ever played was a litle bit of Forever.....lol

Even back in the day I just thought it looked stupid. I should give it a chance though.

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 17:07:49
LOL at that map design pic.
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 23:09:57
edgecrusher said:

The only Duke game I've ever played was a litle bit of Forever.....lol

Even back in the day I just thought it looked stupid. I should give it a chance though. have you

how have you gone through life without playing this?! It's Edge the game! An awesome dude that just wants to fuck hot chicks and kills aliens for fun. There is nudity, crudeness humor, it's your game!

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