THE KING IS BACK
One thing this decade has been lacking is a good Duke Nukem game. Duke Nukem Forever did not fill that role, so instead of trying again, Duke Nukem 3D and all of the expansions were wrapped up in a nice package and Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition came into existence. The PC version was released in 2013, and now Megaton Edition is available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. It does fill the role of best Duke Nukem game this generation as well as the best first-person shooter on Vita.
Two decades ago, storytelling in video games was severely lacking. Duke Nukem is no exception, but it never intended to have a great story. The entire story is about Duke killing aliens, spouting one-liners, and saving planet Earth’s babes. It is a very cheesy story and exists solely for the purpose of sending Duke around various locations to eliminate the alien menace. So how well does the gameplay hold up? I expected it to play poorly due to age, but I had an enormous amount of fun with it.
Most first person shooters nowadays are linear, cinematic experiences. They tend to put emphasis on realism and forget to have a little bit of fun. There is nothing wrong with a first person shooter striving for that setting, but it seems that most of them aim for that setting. Because of that, Duke Nukem 3D, a game that is nearly two decades old, feels like a breath of fresh air. Shooting does not feel dated, and every weapon is unique and a blast to use. It may have taken me awhile, but I finally felt the joy of shrinking an enemy down and crushing them underneath my boot.
Even though each level consists of shooting enemies and collecting keycards to reach the end, none of this ever feels repetitive because of the weapons and all of the unique types of enemies. There is one thing that did shock me though. Every once in awhile the game would stutter; it happened first when a lot of action was occurring, but subsequent stutters would occur during minor action. It happened to me a handful of times, and it did impact the gameplay.
Duke Nukem 3D came before the corridor shooters of today, and some of that does make the game feel a little dated. While linear games can be boring to play through because of the lack of exploration, a little bit of guidance is not a bad thing.
Duke Nukem often hides the various key cards needed to progress in easy-to-miss places. This led to me wandering around areas I had already cleared of enemies. I would eventually stumble upon the hiding place, but the time I spent wandering felt wasted. Also, because the game features non-regenerating health, it is easy to get into situations that are nearly impossible to finish.
The respawn system does help this some. Whenever the player dies, a timeline is shown. This lets the player respawn at any point during the level, such as before they got themselves in a jam. I know I put myself into some of these situations but it still frustrated me to some degree.
The gameplay may have aged well, but the graphics did not. Enemies are all sprites, and look blurry. Duke’s arm and gun conflict with the rest of the style of the game. Both of them look higher quality than the rest of the graphics. The fire is some of the worst I have ever seen. It looks like bad special effects from a movie, and looks even worse in a video game. These two decades have not been nice to Duke’s beauty.
The Verdict: 8.7 out of 10
Despite Duke Nukem 3D’s age, it still plays very well. Blowing up an alien’s head with a shotgun, and blowing up an alien’s everything with a rocket launcher feels great. The rest of the game does feel dated; levels feature no guidance, and the graphics look awful. Even so, Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition deserves to be played by veterans and newcomers alike.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Riley Berry is an Associate Writer for MONG and believes that the one true king is Ash Williams. You can follow him on IGN.