|Duke Nukem is yet another 3D
shooter game, but it stands far apart and above your standard "Doom
clone." While it has the all usual characteristics of the genre (lots of
monsters, fairly simple puzzles to solve, and loads of guns and gore) it separates itself
from the pack through its marvelous attention to detail and king-hell attitude. The plot's
fairly nonexistent: Duke returns to earth to find it overrun by aliens who, besides just
being aliens, are also abducting earth women. And "No one," as the Dukester sez,
"steals our chicks... and lives." Ok, Jane Austen this ain't, but it's enough of
a premise (like you needed one) to turn Duke loose for 28 levels of mayhem.
The same goes for the equipment and power-ups Duke finds lying around during the game. The jet pack and scuba gear are not only useful but necessary on most levels, so don't waste them on pointless sightseeing. Steroids can pump Duke up to Gold's Gym standards. A nifty portable medkit keeps Duke on task, rather than desperately searching for health. The HoloDuke can be used to fool aliens into attacking it while Duke sits back and blasts away from a safe vantage point.
Unfortunately, the originality and attention to detail put into Duke's weapons and equipment doesn't show up in his opponents, who are satisfactory enough, but pretty generic and disappointingly limited. I got tired of blowing away the same old pig cop and trooper characters. Ho hum. Note to all 3D game designers: Please provide a wider variety of monsters in your games! But that's my only gripe with the gameplay. The control was phenomenal, the controls easy to learn and use, and the puzzles Duke occasionally has to solve to beat a level were just right, neither quite as mindless as the Doom-style hit-a-button-and-run-like-hell type nor as time-consuming as the Hexen "better buy the player's guide" type.Attitude:
I'm including this category because attitude is a lot of what makes Duke 3D the game it is. Duke is not your typical 3D game space marine, most of whom have the personality of Al Gore. Duke's got an attitude that's sort of a cross between John Wayne and Snake Plissken, and combined with his occasional wry comments (Including "That's gotta hurt," "Damn, I'm looking good,"or "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm fresh out of gum") add a new and welcome dimension to 3D gaming.
The game has an attitude as well. It's very, very, violent (though cartoony) and very, very, sexist. The violence against aliens I don't sweat, but there are lots of partially-nude women running around to be shot, and frankly I found this aspect of the game to be tiresome and gratuitous. Fortunately, if you fret about such things you can turn most of the more disturbing features off with a parental lock.