I guess he did have time to play with himself.
If I can credit Gearbox with one thing – it’s that they do try. I know we can argue about the debacle that was Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever, but Borderlands is great, Homeworld was fantastic, and I’m a big fan of Battleborn. Since claiming ownership of the Duke Nukem franchise and the king himself, Gearbox decided to give longtime fans of the series a gift in the 20th Anniversary World Tour edition of the classic Duke Nukem 3D. To sweeten the pot, Gearbox announced that the game would include a ton of content, including multiplayer and mod support (on PC).
Duke Nukem 3D was a pretty successful endeavor that released about 20 years ago on PC, PlayStation, and the Nintendo 64. Most kids my age snuck a copy into their homes (of course our parents would never actually let us buy that), and we all, generally, loved it. Duke’s disgusting and misogynistic humor was found to be funny (which, by the way, makes a hypocrite of most of us, as so many were so offended by Duke Nukem Forever; alas, that is for another day), and the over the top action set a place in many-a-hearts. For my own part, I could never get past the second level, so I never got too into the experience.
Fortunately (?), Gearbox sent over a review code for the 20th Anniversary World Tour, and I jumped at the bit.
Duke Nukem 3D is the story of Duke Nukem as he attempts to rid the planet of an invading alien race. Equipped with about ten different and colorful weapons, Duke blows his way through hordes of aliens that come in all shapes and sizes. And why, you may ask, does Duke feel the need to rid Earth of alien scum? Because they’ve kidnapped a whole bunch of women! What ensues is a bloodbath of alien vile and a score of strippers (so willing to flash you for a hundred-dollar bill).
Since the majority of gamers know the Duke, and since many of us have experienced Duke Nukem 3D in some shape, I’ll move straight to gameplay. I’ve played every iteration of Duke Nukem 3D – from the original, Megaton, to this. While the content of the 20th Anniversary World Tour package isn’t complete (it’s missing all of 3D’s DLC packs), it does come replete with an additional seven newly designed levels that take place after the curtain falls in the final act. So while they don’t have the novelty of Duke on a beach or in the middle of a snow storm, they do add a whole new experience – and one that’s tough as hell to boot. I’m happy to say that I didn’t experience any issues with the controls in this edition of Duke Nukem 3D. Gearbox presented a solid port here, and it runs with much more success on my PC than the Megaton Edition did. Gearbox also re-finished the graphical fidelity of Duke, though the notice isn’t life-altering, and it can hardly be considered a massive upgrade. For retro purists, however, the visuals still retain the classic ’96 Duke vibe (and FPS vibe, in general) that we’ve come to love.
One of the best features, for me, that this edition contained (and that I don’t remember having in the Megaton edition) was the ability to rewind after death to any spot before your demise. So if I made a stupid mistake, was surprised by a pig cop, or overwhelmed by enemies with only my boot as a weapon, I could rewind the game to re-strategize my options. In a game like Duke Nukem 3D, the ability to rewind and retry is epic, and it’s something that significantly improves gameplay and replay value for me. Being 20 years old makes any game difficult to remaster, and controls can only be improved so much. With that said, the Duke still suffers from platforming issues that often caused my death (which is fixed by the rewind button, so the controls become almost a wash).
What Gearbox added that has most gamers excited, however, was the ability to compete in an 8-player multiplayer against your friends or bots. On the PC, games were all private, so I could not compete against live competition; I did, however, play a few games against bots. To my strange satisfaction, the multiplayer seemed to hold a lot of potential. Without friends, the bot match was still enjoyable. Another feature that PC gamers love is the ability to mod. Gamers of old can spend a lot of time with their childhood and build upon that.
Duke Nukem 20th Anniversary World Tour is a tough review to pen. With its multitude of upgrades and/or improvements comes a few downsides. While the seven new levels are awesome (and designed by original Duke developers), the game is lacking Duke’s DLC. And while the rewind button saved by bacon some myriad times, the old mechanics aided in my continuous deaths and destruction. Still, the overall experience is one that gamers hold dear in their nostalgic minds and hearts, and it’s one that is still fun as hell today. Duke’s one-liners and banter were re-recorded by his original voice actor, but his offensive content is ever present. A game as polarizing as this, though, shouldn’t be backed away from.
In conclusion, Gearbox’s attempt at a little bit of fan service is acceptable. Retro shooter enthusiasts will relive their glory days in the World Tour edition of Duke Nukem 3D, and the curious will probably come away with a positive experience. If harsh language and crude humor offend you, then you should skip this one; Duke is unforgiving in that regard. With its classic music and visuals, Duke isn’t in his most pleasing form aesthetically (though he’d probably disagree), but the gameplay is all there. For $20, the game is perhaps a bit expensive. Either way, Duke Nukem 20th Anniversary World Tour is a game you won’t forget.