Duke Nukem 3D Anniversary World Tour Review
A lot has happened since Duke Nukem was at his prime, and we’ve played so many first-person shooters since the King was brandishing his own kind of justice 20 years ago. Is there a place for Duke in today’s market or are tank tops, crew cuts and risqué humour better left to die with the aliens you blew to hell with that shotgun way back when? Duke Nukem 3D has been re-released to mark an anniversary, and it’s pretty light on features outside of the new levels, but it’s a welcome reminder of why we loved it in the first place.
Duke Nukem 3D came out at the best possible time for me. I was thirteen, ready to embark on a journey into puberty, noticing girls over Mario and action movies over Thomas the Tank Engine. Duke was the coolest of dudes and he was the epitome of everything I wanted to be; he fought aliens with awesome weapons, had all the ladies and came out with the best lines. Playing the game 20 years on is a welcome return to a time when life was simpler and sillier, even if the game feels ancient compared to Call of Duty and Battlefield. The controls are poor compared to today’s standards, lacking an auto-aim or even a steadied aim for those who want every bullet to count. Ammo isn’t in abundance and giving you the option to take care of your bullets would have been appreciated.
All the levels are here from the original Duke Nukem 3D, along with a brand new adventure, spanning the globe and taking Duke to places like Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and Hollywood. Alien World Order is a nice new addition and manages to keep the same tone as the levels Allen Blum III and Richard Gray created for the original; it’s worth noting that both Blum and Gray have designed these new levels and they don’t disappoint, feeling bigger and better than before. Not only have the original level creators returned, but Lee Jackson has come back to write a brand new musical score to accompany Alien World Order.
There are some slight improvements to how the game looks, significantly how the lighting gives the world more definition, dumbing down on the dull, murky shading and designs. At any point you can switch between the improved version and the old, but why you’d want to play it in its original form is beyond me as it hasn’t aged well. Other improvements come with Duke Nukem himself; Jon St. John has returned to re-record and add new lines of dialogue for the titular hero, and it shows. Even now I found myself laughing at some of his zingers, forgetting some of the more vulgar quotes he made in the original and loving them even more now I’m a lot older.
There are plenty of little additions or changes that are quite noticeable, and provide a bit more content for fans to enjoy. You can play all of the missions out of order, and you can also play them at any point. Want to play the final mission first? Go right ahead. You can also rewind play-back to any point as to avoid a death or an attack from some of those annoying hogs, which makes things easier. There’s a director’s commentary option where you can interact with little microphone icons around the maps and you’ll learn titbits about how the game was made.
Although there have been some improvements here and there, and a multiplayer has been added along with other new features, it still feels as though it could’ve been something more. Seeing Duke Nukem in a new adventure utilising current gen technology would’ve been much more impressive than a new lick of paint on an outdated classic. Nonetheless, it’s a nice reminder of how games like Duke Nukem and Doom helped to shape the FPS machine we’re all so used to today.
New Alien World Order levels
Clearly showing its age
Nostalgic goggles blur the quality of environments and characters
Controls haven’t been improved