Monday, 3 October 2011

PC - Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem 3D

Prepare yourself. This is going to be a bit of an epic. Not only that, but due to the nature of the game itself, there's going to be some swearing. Only repeating what you can expect to hear in the game, mind... but still, warning you seems only fair. Like it says in the title pic... ADULT CONTENT.

Right, hopefully that's the kiddi-winks toddled off now, leaving just me and the grown-ups here, still reading. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
Duke Nukem started life as a character in a platform-based shoot 'em-up, although his name was spelt Duke Nukum then, and starred in two old PC games. I may be wrong on this, but I'm pretty sure these games pre-date VGA graphics, so possibly used CGA or EGA. Whatever they are, they’re old-school, both in style and playability.

Several years later, 3D gaming is the norm, Doom and Doom 2 are huge hits and the first person shooter is rapidly gaining in popularity. We haven't reached the stage of 3-D modelling yet (although it’s not far off), so what we've got is a kind of faux 3D, which basically means 2D sprites moving in a 3D space. Effectively you can rotate around an object, and whilst the walls and floor move realistically and 3D-like, the object will still be showing the same face whichever way you look at it, unless it happened to have different sprites set up for it, like the enemies did.

Not meaning in any way to take anything away from Duke3D, because after all, I'm probably the World's Biggest Campaigner for substance over style, gameplay over graphics. If graphics look a little ropey, fine, as long as the game makes up for it by being playable and enjoyable.

ANYWAY, to stop digressing for just one moment and actually talk about the dang game, you play the role of Duke Nukem, Earth’s hard-nut (actually reminds me a lot of Ernie the Psychotic Madman), and you must take on hordes of Aliens that have seemingly taken over Los Angeles. Apparently you were in some kind of spaceship and got shot down, armed with only a pistol. Not to worry, you’ll soon come across some better weaponry…

And the weaponry is nothing short of FUN at the best of times. Whilst you start off with fairly standard stuff (Pistol, Shotgun, Machine Gun, Rocket Launcher) you soon start collecting fancier bits of kit like Pipebombs (more like a remote controlled mine), the ShrinkRay (make your enemies tiny, and then step on them!), Lazer-activated Trip Mines, the Devastator (Automatic Rocket Launcher, save it for the bosses) and the FreezeRay (freeze your enemies, then kick ‘em and smash ‘em!). Oh, and you can’t forget the mighty foot, as well, if you’re up close and personal to an enemy… or just plain out of ammo.

There’s plenty of fodder to use these weapons against, too… from annoying alien “grunts” to Shotgun-toting Pigcops, to the Octobrains and bosses. And usually Duke has an amusing quip just before a tasty encounter, maybe something like “I’m going to rip your head off and shit down your neck.”

Yeah, about that… you shouldn’t play this game if you’re easily offended by naughty words like piss and shit, they’re contained in abundance. Sometimes an alien will do a little poo on the floor. Walking through it will leave brown footprints behind, and Duke will exclaim “Shit happens”. In fact, all through the game are little touches and things Duke can interact with that were quite unprecedented at the time. For example, there’s many mirrors (which will usually cause Duke to say, “Damn, I’m lookin’ good!” and toilets (“Ahhhh, much better!”) and a few little “Easter Eggs” (usually references to other games) can be found too. Shall I spoil them for you?

Nah. If you want to know about them you can find them easily enough on the internet. But you can’t forget about the girls. Yep, some of the levels visit strip clubs and sex shops, where you can give money to the girls working there, who will quickly shake their assets in your direction for you.

In between each level there’s little cut scenes, one of which is particularly funny, where Duke makes good on his earlier promise to rip of the bad guy’s head and… well, I mentioned it earlier, you can guess the rest.

Once again, these features ensured the game courted controversy, at the time it was often a winning formula for games, having the “enraged parents” and the Daily Mail repeating their tired old routine (“Think of the Children” and “Computer Games Are Evil”, basically). What is it they say, no publicity is bad publicity?

There were other features too, such as the Holoduke (a fake copy of yourself to confuse the enemy), Jetpack (useful for those hard-to-reach high up places) and Steroids. Steroids made your “Mighty Foot” even mightier than it ever was before, allowing you to actually boot your foes across the screen in a hilarious manner.

I hope you’re sitting comfortably here, because I’m FAR from finished yet.

Duke Nukem3D, as well as being a fun single-player game, was an AWESOME multiplayer game too. Now, this is where my first real experience of on-line gaming came in…

British Telecom used to have a service called “Wireplay”. This was basically a dial-up service with its own DOS-based software which allowed you to play games online against other users. It was expensive, 6.5p per minute during the day and 2.5p per minute in the evenings and weekends (If I totted up hours I put in to online gaming now in comparison, it’d be frightening), but it was pretty much the only option open to me. 4-player Dukematches online were good fun, although plagued by “Out of Sync” errors.

Fortunately, new Wireplay software was on the way, and I got myself on the Beta Tester’s list. Now THAT was a tasty experience. 8 players at once, super fast, lag was a thing of the past, and best of all, the promise of a complete refund of any charges incurred once I returned my feedback at the end of the trial.

I proceeded to run up almost £800 of charges, all of which were refunded. I went by the name of Dameron back then (inspired by Myth on the Spectrum), so I’d be interested to hear from anyone who may remember playing against me. If it helps, I was most likely the one covering the RPG spawn and spamming it to death.

It would be nice to be able to play it online again, only without the Wireplay software, naturally.

The last thing for me to mention in this review is the fact that Duke3d was bundled with the “Build” software… effectively this meant you could make your own levels, which is exactly what I did. After a few test levels, I finally took the plunge and made an absolute EPIC level. To be fair, out of all the computer-related things I’ve done in my life, after my XM Music and Fruit Machine Emulation contributions, it’s probably my proudest moment.

In fact, in celebration of the fact that Duke Nukem Forever has finally arrived after over a decade’s expectation, how’s about I make that level available for you to play? I'll have to find it first... but if I do, you’ll need Duke Nukem 3D, and if I remember rightly you simply copy the map file into the Duke Nukem directory (or folder if you prefer), and run the game with the command line “duke3d –map”

The map’s called “Impossible Mission”, although it’s really not. Especially if you find all the secrets hidden in there.

The plot’s pretty basic: You, Duke Nukem, have been captured and thrown in a prison cell awaiting execution. When your last meal is brought to you, you take advantage and smash the alien scumbag over the head with the tray. After eating your lasagne and cous-cous, it’s time to get make your escape, exacting some bloody revenge at the same time. Your journey will be long and filled with peril, and require you to use several transport routes, including hijacking a submarine to find the alien’s hidden temple, which holds the secret to getting back home.

The level is massive, I used practically all the space available to me to make it, and it’ll take a while to complete, but there’s some very varied ideas in there, hopefully it’ll be worth the time. Hopefully I'll be able to find it and upload it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the Link. The download works fine and new Market is definitely better.