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Duke Nukem 3D
PublisherSega Disc(s)1
DeveloperLobotomy Software RAM CartNo
Players1/2 (With NetLink) OriginUS

by Wes Pringle (wes.pringle@sympatico.ca)

Lowdown:

    Duke Nukem 3D is a 3D shooter, and it has bucketloads of everything that you would expect from a 3D shooter - guns, ammo, blood, guts, bad guys, etc. But personally, I find the game much more enjoyable than say: DOOM. I think this is true for two key reasons.
Duke Nukem - The Game

First, the developers at 3D Realms, in creating Duke, spent quite a bit of time trying to recreate actual environments - not just empty corridors. The shooting may take place in a city street, a bar, a bank, or a space station. But wherever it takes place, the details give you a sense that this is a real place. The city has a movie theater that you can walk inside of. The bar has dancers, and if you look out the window of the space station, you see, well...space. There are washrooms, air vents, offices, apartments, water fountains, fire hydrants and cash registers. Again - all this helps to make you feel that you are in a real place.

The second thing I like about Duke is that there is quite a bit of exploration, and a bit of puzzle solving required. It is not QUITE as mindless a game as DOOM. Of course, there is still a very heavy focus on shooting and violence, but you do need to think about different situations, and how you should best approach it.

So I like Duke Nukem 3D. Needless to say then I was quite excited when I heard it was coming to the Saturn. I was particularly excited when I heard that Lobotomy Software would be handling the conversion. Those of you that have had the opportunity to play Lobotomy's "Powerslave" know exactly why this was exciting news. Lobotomy have proven themselves to be perhaps the best third party developer for the Saturn when it comes to creating fast, smooth, 3D environments.

The Saturn Conversion

Graphics:

The Saturn Version The graphics in the Saturn version of Duke are very solid. There is no pop-up or drop-out whatsoever. Furthermore, the game maintains a rock solid frame-rate throughout that never seems to drop to any significant degree. The sprite based enemies look very good (though they are a little pixely up close), and the 3D environment is very convincing. Fans of the PC version will notice a bit of a loss in detail on the wall textures, but they still look very solid.

Lobotomy's trademark lighting effects are in the game in spades. Explosions and weapons light up the hallways with spectacular effects - effects that were not present in the original PC version.

The PC Version In terms of censorship, well - the game isn't. Giving money to the dancers in the bar results in... well... let's just say you're probably not used to seeing that sort of thing on a home console game.

Sound:

From a sound perspective, everything is just perfect on Duke. The tunes are all there and sound great. Duke's voice is loud and very clear. He frequently pipes up when the going gets tough "I'm gonna tear you a new one". The weapon shots and explosions all sound the way they should. There IS swearing in the game. It took a long time before I finally heard it, but Duke said to me last night: "Hollly Shiiiiiiiiit" When I blew up a wall with the RPG.

Control:

Control just doesn't get any better than this. Everything is geared to run with the analog "3D" pad. You can make Duke creep forward very slowly, or run full out with just the flick of your thumb. The strafe buttons are also set up for analog control, so you can sidestep very gradually, or run to the side. It all depends on how far you press down the shoulder buttons on the 3D pad. I haven't tried the game in digital mode, but why bother? By now all of you should have 3D pads anyway.

Gameplay

The game captures all of the intensity of the PC version. The level design is fantastic, with lots of secrets and bonuses to find as you move around. Even after you clear the game, or a level, you will still want to go back and try to find the secrets that you missed the first time through. You can choose between 4 difficulty settings, and believe me, that's a good thing because at the harder settings, this is a difficult game indeed.

Veterans of the PC version will notice that details in the level design are sometimes different. Usually this represents some type of compromise vs the PC version (eg, the large rotating screws in the third level - "Death Row" - don't spin in the Saturn version. Also the rotating room in that same level doesn't rotate). Frankly, if you hadn't played the PC version you would never notice that anything looked funny - and it certainly doesn't detract from the game.

The only improvement I would offer is this. In the Saturn version, you can only save your game at the end of a level. Obviously this is designed to extend the gameplay experience for as long as possible. It's quite a drag however to get killed near the end of a particularly grueling level. I would have preferred gamesave "on demand".

Extras:

This game has lots of "stuff" for you to sink your teeth into. There are 27 levels in the game - so your not going to whip through it too quickly. Each level is literally CRAMMED full of secrets - which once again extends the gameplay experience. If you have a Netlink - this game can be played in either cooperative, or "Dukematch" mode with a friend over the telephone lines. This is the game that the Netlink has been waiting for - frankly, I think it is going to sell a Netlink to me, as I really would love to play others in a Saturn Dukematch.

Finally, hidden within Duke is a whole other game - DeathTank Zwei. For those of you that have Powerslave, and have tried the code which unlocked the original DeathTank - you know why this is so exciting. DeathTank is a simple but very fun party game that has to be played to be fully appreciated. I've not yet unlocked the second DeathTank, but I know that eventually I will. Just knowing it's there ads to the whole package for me. [Ed. Note: Lobotomy has revealed that there are two ways to get to the second DeathTank: 1. By a secret, untold of method that someone will have to figure out. 2. By having a Quake save game in your Saturn's backup memory.]

Lasting Power:

It's difficult to come right out and give this game a 10, only because it hasn't been out long enough (ask me in a year). But my impression is that this game will have tremendous lasting power indeed. I base that observation on the tremendous number of secrets in the game, the Netlink mode, and the various difficulty levels. I see it working like this: Most people will try to first finish the game on an easier setting - without finding too many secrets. That in itself will take a while as the game's 27 levels are quite long. The second time through, looking for secrets while playing at a tougher setting will be just as much time as the first. And of course, once you are a pro, dial up that Netlink and face off in a Duke-Match.

Overall:

It just doesn't get a whole lot better than this. I've been told that Saturn Duke is actually superior to the upcoming PSX and N64 versions. I can't say if this is true or not, but I will say that it is believable - as Saturn Duke really is that good. If you have a Netlink - you would have to be a complete idiot not to get this game. If you don't have a Netlink - this is the best reason to get one. Duke Nukem 3D is simply an essential Saturn purchase. (It also has me hungry for Quake, Lobotomy's next Saturn title).

Graphics: 9
Sound/Music: 10
Gameplay/Control: 9.7
Lasting Power: 9.5
Overall: 10
-Wes




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