Thursday, 9 June 2011

Duke Nukem 3D (MS-DOS)


I've dragged Quake out of the warm fuzzy embrace of rose-tinted nostalgia, now it's Duke Nukem's turn to face the harsh light of reality.

Those alien bastards shot down my ride!

Interestingly, the first thing I have to shoot in the game are these exploding barrels, and not an enemy. Well, I could have shot the fan instead, or kicked it in, or kicked the barrels if I wanted to burn my face off, but either way I can only get off this roof when I've learned that I can break through parts of the level.

And the first enemy I face is placed in such a way to draw my attention toward the box, and how he's on top of it. Suddenly I start getting ambitious and think of other things I could be jumping on.

Jumping on the ledges gets me up to a secret place, where I'm awarded with an rpg, and a big obvious target to practice shooting at. The explosion blows out the wall, giving me a path inside the cinema.

It's okay, there was a enemy over there! I'm saving humanity here.

Activating this till in the cinema lobby opened up a secret alcove containing body armour up near the ceiling on the right. Like the rocket launcher on the ledge it makes absolutely no sense in this realistic setting, but I get free stuff out of it so I'll let them off.

Is this the first working mirror in video game history? All I know is that the enemies are too stupid to see my reflection coming at them from around the corner.

These guys may be dumb, but they're better equipped than the average generic fps grunt though. They have jetpacks and can teleport out of danger.

Is this the first alien taking a crap in video game history? This room is full of video game innovations, like toilets I can take a piss in to regain some health, or break to drink the water.

Plus there's a vent, so I can take a shortcut to the projection room.

I saw a crack in the screen, so it had to be done. If I find a wall I can destroy, the game will generally reward me for doing so with valuable treasures. In this case shotgun ammo and a jetpack.

As I was walking back to the lobby, the place was hit by an earthquake! I forgot just how much the levels break apart in this game, it's a nice effect.

I went over and paid a visit to the arcade earlier, and found a locked exit, a pile of explosive barrels, and a few pissed off enemies. So I threw a pipe bomb in and decided I'd come back later.

Now I'm on the other side of the wall, and I've got the keycard, so I thought I might as well detonate the barrels to make a handy shortcut.

But before I leave the level I'd better stock up with weapons from this guy's apartment.

Man, look at all those possible weapons I can collect and carry at once. Pistol, shotgun, chaingun, rpg, pipe bombs, shrink ray, freeze ray, devastator, laser trip mines... plus a pair of boots. I love having options.

Wait, 'auto destruct'? Why is there an auto destruct in the middle of the city? What am I automatically destroying, the whole cinema? But I cleaned it out, it's safe now... I don't get it.

Level two introduces these flying things that I can never ever get hold of and fly myself. This makes me sad, so I have to destroy them all immediately. The pig cops always survive the explosion, but they don't generally survive me shooting them with a chaingun afterwards.

To save the world it is necessary for me to visit a porn shop. I'll figure out why later.

Ah, I was grabbing a keycard hidden inside so I could activate the explosives to destroy this skyscraper. I'll figure out why later.

It's okay, it was empty! It was scheduled for demolition already, I just sped up the process.

Check weapons? Okay, well my shotgun works. Hold on, I'll try out the chaingun next.

I've found a pool table, and it works! Well it almost works, I can hit balls into other balls and occasionally one might even disappear down a pocket, but it's not exactly playable.

I've finally found a living human survivor! Duke's first reaction? He offers her money and tells her to 'shake it baby'. She doesn't.

Why the hell are these women still dancing? Do they not hear the machine gun fire? If they're going to stick around they could at least grab a shotgun and help out. I'm trying to save humanity here.

'Mighty foot engaged' is an understatement. I'm going to bicycle kick this asshole until he's a stain on the wall.

Okay it turns out that I actually had no reason to visit the strip club, but the aliens knew that Duke couldn't resist going anyway and planned a cunning trap for him. I used the jetpack to escape the cunning trap, but it still faded to black. I woke up on the next level to find myself in prison in the middle of being executed via the electric chair. Worse they'd taken all my weapons off me!

Fortunately they forgot to strap me to the chair, because they are very very stupid.

Your sacrifice will not be in vain, you poor Doomed space marine. And by that I mean I'm taking your gun.

Man, I really hate these turrets. I hate them so much. Sitting up there all smug, shooting down on me.

Well I got out of the prison building, only to find that the main prison gates were locked. But after wandering around outside for a bit I found a key to a security door just sitting here outside. There's no reason for it being here, it just is.

Inside the security room I found a way to disarm the force fields blocking entire to the cell blocks. Now I can use this switch to open each cell in turn, and go inside to be shot at through the window by those damn turrets again.

But maybe this one will be the one that leads to freedom.

Hang on, I think I'm on to something here.

Man, they were so close to escaping. Everything they need is right here; high explosives... a crack in the wall.

Damn, they brought me here on a sub? They really went all out on this execution plan. A bullet to the head would have been much quicker, but I guess they wanted to make an example out of Earth's greatest hero.

Shame they forgot the restraints. Idiots.

Damn, those 'idiots' had the forethought to booby trap the sub. Now I have to figure out this code to get the exit hatch open before Duke drowns. There are three switches and each one can either be on or off, so by my calculations there are approximately...  7 possible codes! I might be here a while...

After a bit of turret dodging, some barrel grappling conveyor high jinks and shrink ray shenanigans, I found myself dumped into the sewers. Actually this is worse than most sewers because this stuff actually eats away at my health unless I have protective boots on.

But fortunately I have made a useful discovery. After a few messy attempts to get miniaturised Duke through a tiny vent before he regained normal size, I figured out that all this time I'd been playing with auto-run OFF. Duke's walking speed is so fast I just assumed he was running, but now I'm really running through the levels.

Hey, I found a secret exit! Just goes to show that if you ever find a crack in a toxic waste pipe, fire an rpg at it without hesitation. You might just find a secret rocket base hidden behind the wall.

But enough of that, back to the sewer pipe then.

Amazingly, the sewage pipe led somewhere even worse. A canyon along the San Andreas fault. This wouldn't be so bad if I could figure out where the hell I was meant to be going. I used the jetpack to try and skip past where I was stuck, but now I don't know if I'm travelling the right direction.

Turns out that I was supposed to look out at a certain point to trigger an earthquake to proceed. Proceed to more bloody rocky maze-like passages that is.

Finally I'm making some damn progress. All I have to do now is jump across this narrow rocky path.

Then kill the boss.

I've gotta say, I'm not a fan of this boss fight. As far as I can tell I just gotta keep my crosshair pointed in his direction while I unload my ammo supply and try to be where his bullets aren't. I'm not finding it much fun.

And THAT'S how you execute an enemy. No submarines or electric chairs required. Though Duke is suddenly carrying a gun that he can't collect in game. I think it's the one he carries on the mission stats screen after I complete a level though, so I guess it's only fair he's got it now.

Is Duke Nukem 3D as good as I remember? To be honest, I love the game as much now as I ever did. I found the last level of the first episode to be a pain in the ass, but I can live with one annoying level out of six. It still looks reasonably pretty, the music is great, the sound effects are good, combat is fun, and there's generally multiple ways to progress through a level. It's packed with ideas and charm, and it remains one of my favourite games.



  1. agreed, this review is a very good one! Duke Nukem 3D is the best game ever!

  2. Too bad the second episode wasn't as good as the first and the third.

    1. That's an understatement.

      I replayed most of this game recently as research for my Duke Nukem Forever article (I didn't need much of an excuse), and I was amazed at just how frustrating that second episode is. A lot of the levels are a pain in the ass to navigate and I'm not sure that those exploding kamikaze sentry drones hidden behind every other door ever entertained anyone but the level designers.

  3. Super post, thanks for the read.


Semi-Random Game Box