It was difficult to not notice how console gaming changed first person shooters in the last two decades, to a point, that it was almost impossible to imagine that an old school FPS like Duke Nukem 3D would make an appearance on a console. And now it’s on a handheld as well, it’s really weird seeing this nostalgic little title on my PS Vita.
I’m really amazed how it stood the test of time, I almost forgot how great this game is. Most people recognize Duke Nukem by his macho weird humor and references to movies like Aliens and Evil Dead. But there’s obviously more to the success, it’s a game worth studying, not just playing.
First, the level design is still incredible. The amount of secrets, the complex, intricate pathways, the pacing, the learning curve, the difficulty curve is all logical, very well balanced, neatly put together. The building of tension and atmosphere is superb, and the variety of weapons is actually needed for tactical approach. This game has true depth. I never noticed that when I played it as a kid, since I just used cheat codes. Now on the Vita there aren’t cheats, but there is a kind of cheat-like saving system.
The game lets you rewind time in this version (presumably in other console versions as well). It’s really intuitive, although sometimes it tends to become corrupted, so I advise to save manually as well. Trophies / achievements aren’t really hard to obtain, anybody who has basic knowledge of the game, can get a 100% rather quickly (although I haven’t tried multiplayer yet).
The graphics are fine, sprites tend to get distorted when viewing from certain high or low angles, but the textures and the resolution do this game a service: the lighting, the variety of set pieces are still really nice, especially on a small screen. The humor, the references might be dated, but it’s still a really amazing experience, especially with Jon St. John’s laidback macho voice acting performance.
Now, the bonus chapters are quite weak. It’s the major problem with this edition. The Birth is still an official expansion, but it starts to fall apart, frustrating puzzles, secret switches, overpowered enemies and lackluster level design are signs of that this game worked better as a trilogy of chapters. Duke it Out in D. C., Duke: Nuclear Winter and Duke Caribbean: Life’s a Beach are curiosities, fan made content, and not very good, the game at this point becomes silly and unprofessional. But it’s a free addition, so… who am I to complain.
Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is now free on PlayStation Plus, I recommend getting it, it’s a piece of gaming history that is actually playable and enjoyable to this day.