The 1990s were a golden age for first-person shooters. Doom, Quake, Unreal or Half-Life – one cult game chased the next on PC in particular, fueled by ever faster hardware that propelled the genre like no other. Somewhere in between: Duke Nukem 3D, which caused a sensation despite the outdated 2.5D engine with a strong level design, great hammer humor and good ideas. Now you can finally experience the classic on the Switch, this time as a new edition with the addition 20th Anniversary World Tour. This version is for PC four years ago and shortly thereafter released for PS4 and Xbox One. The content has been expanded, a little embellished, modernized here and there – but the bottom line is that you still get the old Duke from back then, for good and for bad.
Source: PC games
Kill aliens, the rest don't care
Aliens attack the earth and kidnap young women – you don't need to know more about the "story". As the series hero Duke Nukem, you are now shooting your way through numerous levels, including above all US urban environments, in which you can explore streets and strip clubs, cinemas, canals, restaurants and much more. Later you are also in space and mow through space stations before you go back to Earth. The new edition of the 20th Anniversary World Tour also includes a successful fifth chapter, which introduces new locations such as Paris or Egypt – the new levels are fun, but follow the well-known pattern.
Well aged: the level design
Because no matter where you are, the gameplay basically stays the same: You explore nested levels, collect key cards, open doors, discover secrets and cut yourself through to the exit. That still makes you happy, because the surrounding design was a great strength of Duke Nukem 3D at the time and still has many qualities today. Compared to Doom (1993) the levels here are much more complex and detailed. The hero can therefore jump, dive or fly in a jetpack, there are umpteen secret passages, destructible walls, switches and other interactive stuff. You can operate light switches, view monitors, play billiards, use toilets and so on. All of this may seem silly today, but in 1996 such features were pretty impressive!
Source: PC games
Hail to the switch, baby
Such a level of detail would have been completely impossible at that time with real 3D graphics, PC technology was simply not quite there yet. (Reminder: 3D accelerator cards like that 3dfx Voodoo Graphics weren't released at the time!) Therefore, the shooter still used old-fashioned sprites, i.e. flat 2D graphics, to represent opponents and objects – as you know it from Doom 64. From today's point of view, the pixelated aliens are of course completely out of date, but at least the new edition comes with technical improvements. A nicer, more colorful lighting creates a mood, and the picture is now correctly displayed in perspective when you look up or down with the right analog stick. Nice detail: If you prefer the old look, you can switch to the original graphic from 1996 at any time by pressing a button.
Source: PC games
Even after all these years, the action is still a lot of fun. The arsenal of weapons – including shotgun, rocket launcher, shrinking rifle and ice blaster – still feels neat, explosions shred opponents to bloody pixel mud and the claim is right. The aliens are exquisitely stupid, but they deal out relentlessly. So that no frustration arises, you can easily turn back the events after each screen death and simply try again, that's super solved!
The question of taste: humor
Cool: You can also play the entire campaign in co-op mode, which can be done either wirelessly locally, via LAN or online, and there is also a classic multiplayer mode for up to eight players on board. Attention: You need one for online mode paid Nintendo online membership.
Source: PC games
The retro package is rounded off with optional audio comments from the developers, and new quotes have been added for the new edition with Duke Nukem's original speaker. Are they funny? A matter of taste. The Duke himself is a caricature on two legs, a lusciously exaggerated male fantasy with plump biceps, thick ratchet and sunglasses, which treats women like sex objects and keeps pubertal sayings on the stack. The fact that there are a few nice swipes at the pop culture of the time is almost a minor matter. So it was true then as now: humor may be a hallmark of the game, but that's why it doesn't have to be funny.
You get the uncut switch version from Duke Nukem 3D at a bargain price: For the download only 10 euros are due. The game has also been available for PC since 2016 and Xbox One and PS4 since 2017.
Rating and conclusion
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