Review: Duke Nukem 3D (DOS)

Duke Nukem 3D is a first person shooter with a twist. Instead of just some guy running through a labyrinth, finding keys, switches and exit points, it’s an over the top character doing the same thing, only with punchlines and an attitude. We look at this particular game that is also very well known.

This game was released in 1996 and may be one of the most recognizable titles of the era. Since it was released three years after the original Doom and when first person shooters were really starting to take off, the game had a fair amount of material it could cover and a lot of ways it could expand on existing concepts.

Rather than simply being another, what was termed at the time, “Doom clone”, Duke Nukem 3D had numerous elements of parody strewn about. From references to Doom and Star Wars to movie references, this game has many features that people will most likely recognize if they lived through the 90’s.

The game centres around Duke Nukem and picks up where Duke Nukem II leaves off. The opening scene shows him being shot down in a space cruiser. You start the game (after having picked what difficulty you wanted to play in) landing on top of a sky scraper with your ship eventually colliding into another sky scraper. From there, you’ll have to figure out that you have to blow up some gas tanks to destroy the entrance of a ventilation system – your only means of escape from this part of the first level.

You encounter various monsters, collect different items, use interesting and unique weapons and discover secret area’s. Each level ends with a giant nuclear symbol attached to the wall that allows you to activate some sort of self destruct button. After each level is over, you get to see statistics on how well you did like how many monsters did you kill out of how many there were total or how long it took you to complete the level vs what the Par time was.

Some of the weapons include a shrinker which basically allows you to shoot a pulse at the enemy. If you strike an enemy, the enemy will shrink down to about a few inches tall. This allows you to run up to the enemy and stomp on it.

Another interesting weapon is the pipe bomb. You can throw the pipe bomb into an area, run off and activate it. Alternatively, you can lay our several by throwing one pipe bomb, scrolling to the next weapon, scrolling back to the pipe bomb and throwing another. If you lay out three and use the trigger, you set off all three pipe bombs. This allows you to utilize some strategy as you progress through the game.

Laser trip bombs are a mixed bag. Many of which you’ll encounter are already set and will most likely kill you if you set them off. They can be seen by the red lasers they shoot across an area like a hallway. Some won’t start their lasers unless you “see” them first. You can collect these as a weapon if they are just sitting on the ground and set your own. I found very few area’s where these weapons are useful, but they can be useful nevertheless.

One feature I really liked is the ability to jump. Unlike the original Doom, you can actually jump up on a ledge if there’s an item sitting on top of it.

The items are also interesting in that you can pick up, say, night vision goggles and use them later on in the game as long as there is still battery power (characterized as a percentage). A medkit is also a great feature as you can pick this up and use it when you need it the most rather than being forced to run back a fair distance and collecting some of the health boxes you left from a previous area (whether by accident or deliberately).

There’s really very few things I can say negatively about this game. Some people might not like the references to pornography, but those references were most prevalent in the first episode.

Considering when this game was released, the graphics were very well done. There were animated images in arcade machines, various space objects outside of space windows, different kinds of lighting for when you are underwater, and some cut scenes thrown in for good measure.

The audio was also well done. Some of the tracks like Stalker and Alienz are very well done for merely being MIDI music. The sound effects are really good although some of the quality of the sound is a bit choppy with respect to the voice acting that dots the game.

Overall, I definitely recommend giving this game a try if you haven’t already. There’s certainly hours of fun to be had – especially if you have the Atomic Edition of this game.


Furthest point in game: Beat first three episodes most difficulties, beat the fourth episode on the easiest setting, and managed to beat the first episode on “Damn I’m Good”.

General gameplay: 23/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 10/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 92%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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