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Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition

Hard as it is to believe, Duke Nukem 3D is pushing 20. Previously the frontman of two forgettable side-scrollers, Duke finally had his moment in 1996 when he became the reference-spewing, misogynistic action hero parody we all remember him as in one of the definitive first-person shooters of the era. Much like its protagonist, the series has been stuck in its one moment of glory and unable to maintain its relevance as a string of middling third-person titles and one infamously long-gestated sequel became gaming’s longest running joke. Ported to just about every platform out there, Duke Nukem 3D once again finds new life in the form of the Megaton Edition.

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Be forewarned, this isn’t some HD remaster, but a decidedly retro re-release where the graphics have received a slight polish and little else. Everything is exactly as it was back in its original heyday, from the MIDI-tastic tunes to the way a pig cop’s innards fly in to the air from a well-placed RPG; anyone old enough to remember the original could go through the levels by memory alone. As ever, it remains an old-school corridor shooter set in a variety of interesting backdrops (a quality that most modern titles seem to lack), with plenty of ‘gotcha’ style moments where enemies largely have the drop on Duke.

“the arsenal remains as diverse as it ever was”It’s difficult to assess the Megaton Edition without the whole experience being tinged with misty-eyed nostalgia. Duke Nukem felt like an anachronism way back then, a parody of the posturing ’80s action tough guy that was all but phased-out, and now more than ever it feels bizarre his popularity has lasted so long. There’s no getting around it: Duke Nukem 3D is old, but there’s no denying that such a blast from the past has its own satisfying moments. The arsenal remains as diverse as it ever was, the enemies are plentiful, and the run-n-gun style of gameplay still gets the adrenaline pumping.

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Three add-ons also accompany the Atomic version of Duke Nukem 3D of varying quality. On the short of the stick is Nuclear Winter, an ode to Christmas in L.A. that falls flat with badly-animated sprites and teeth-grinding holiday music. Duke it Out in DC falls somewhere in the middle, with iconic landmarks recreated somewhat faithfully given the Build Engine’s age. By far the best is Caribbean Vacation, as it truly commits to the idea of sending Duke and the aliens on a tropical vacation to see who’s the real big kahuna. Every weapon and enemy is given a makeover from pineapple grenades to aliens wearing Hawaiian shirts and panama suits. For an add-on it’s the most fleshed-out, and surprisingly the concept works the best out of the lot.

“deathmatch and cooperative play are too unreliable to be anything more than five minute diversions”One of the new features is a reload option, wherein once the player dies they can rewind to a previous point and pick things up from there. It’s handy, and in a game where every bullet and percentage of health counts, it’s nice to start over at the most advantageous moment. There’s also online deathmatch and cooperative play, which are both a little too unreliable to be anything more than five minute diversions. Deathmatch feels the most archaic by far with eight-player or one-on-one frag sessions the only modes available.

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Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is a solid collection for anyone still nostalgic for Duke’s brand of gory antics or those wanting to test their mettle against the corridor shooters of old. Don’t expect much in the way of new features, and even two decades later the old mouse-and-keyboard combo still beats a controller any day of the week, but it’s still charming and as another cross-buy for PS3 and Vita, it’s hard to say no at such a cheap asking price.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

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