Gearbox’s relaunch of Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is a shout out to nostalgia and the early days of shooters, while delivering an effective newer version of classic Duke Nukem action. However, even though Duke Nukem 3D will forever remain one of the great shooters that gave us the modern shooter era, the game’s re-release assumes that this shooter formula will not just attract old fans, but be a competitive and re-playable for newer and modern gamers.
It’s interesting to imagine what the original Duke Nukem 3D would have looked like had it been released in 2016. Part of me wants to be believe it may have been a Call of Duty with a politically incorrect sense of humor. Another part of me believes that it would have looked a lot like Bulletstorm: pure and unfiltered shooter madness. We know that classic shooters, such as DOOM (2016), can be rebooted, updated, and released with great success, which begs the question: why Duke Nukem 20th Anniversary World Tour?
DK3D 20th Anniversary (a shortened version of this game’s title) delivers all the great action of the original episodes one through four, with the added content of Episode 5: “Alien World Order.” However, it’s dated gameplay can only deliver so much. Gearbox allows us to switch back and forth (with your D-Pad on the Xbox) between the original and the semi-updated visuals for the game. However, the difference isn’t greatly dynamic and, being fully honest, I had to take breaks from playing because my vision hurt. Yes, my eyes got tired of tracking bad guys, looking for secret doors, and paying attention to all sorts of map details in a heavily pixelated environment.
Maybe I am getting old at the age of 27, but the simple of experience of finding all the secret cards in order to move on to the next chapter, and do the same thing, became frustrating. As highlighted above, Gearbox delivers a shout out to the past, but the delivery of an old shooter formula without the benefit of upgraded graphics places a definite cap of the marginal entertainment of each gameplay minute.
Visuals greatly impact general gameplay; however, DK3D 20th Anniversary World Tour doesn’t try to be anything more than what we know it is: Duke Nukem. You begin each level at a location somewhat connected to the ending of the last chapter. From the start point, the player begins a search for card keys, bad aliens, and stronger weapons that diversify gameplay throughout the campaign chapter. However, even though the game delivers exactly what it was built to be, it is fair to ask whether a new player, someone who never played the older releases of Duke Nukem, would be willing to grind through the learning curve.
As an experienced gamer, I often found myself getting lost and frustrated. Was it my fault? Possibly, but the game offers no alternative or guidance. This led me to having to take breaks from completing a chapter and moving on. The maze-style of the original Duke Nukem 3Dworked 20 years ago, and delivers the nostalgia effect today, but it is a formula that has had better recent attempts.
As a tribute to the past, DK3D 20th Anniversary does its job. Fans and lovers of the Duke Nukem series will surely enjoy replaying the episodes and chapters over and over again. However, I doubt whether younger or many modern gamers would find similar appeal. As a hardcore gamer with access to an excellent library, and an extensive backlog, I don’t see myself coming back to “get some.” The satisfaction isn’t there. The hardcore fans will find this Duke Nukem as a collection of some pretty awesome and fun memories. Nevertheless, the game’s “replayability” assumes a gamer’s connection to the past, which for many, simply isn’t there.
We can’t look at a Duke Nukem release and not think of Quake and DOOM—at least, I can’t. Those three games, among others, represent the foundation and birth of the shooter genre: my favorite genre. Id Software’s 2016 DOOM showed us that you can keep old formulas alive by rewarding the loyalty of old fans, and harvesting the passion of newer gamers. The newest DOOM did that by delivering an old campaign formula with beautiful new graphics and sexy gameplay mechanics. Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour doesn’t do that. The game succeeds as a nostalgia-insinuating product that, even though faithful to its roots, struggles to keep modern gamers engaged the further you play along.
Duke Nukem’s latest comeback is faithful to its legacy, down to its raunchy and politically incorrect sense of humor. Nevertheless, in an era with so many other gaming options and alternatives to spend our money and time on, the old-school visuals and gameplay are a deterrent to young and newer gamers looking for something to dive into, time and time again.
Duke Nukem fills all the right Nostalgia holes…… It brings me right back to my angsty teen years, playing games on my PC that I probably shouldn’t have been playing. My parents had no idea that I was in the computer room shooting up Cops who are literally pigs (boars) and creepy space aliens. Looking at scantily clad women dancing in poles and almost x-rated movie posters.
You could say Duke is a childish game, but I would argue it’s one of the best shooters I played in the 90’s. 20 years later, Duke Nukem 20th anniversary world tour puts you right back into that world. With some texture updates and control tweaks, Duke is still the same old foul mouthed, urinal using, stripper shooting bad ass mofo.
I found myself right back in that computer room, giggling at movie marquee puns and x-rated magazines lying on the ground. Still getting stuck in the same spots that I used to, having to solve puzzles and figure out how to kill enemies. I love it still. World tour is a fantastic nostalgia trip. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
You have to know your gaming roots boys and girls, and this was one of the grand daddy’s of FPS games. This was a nostalgic blast from the past for me, I had just as much fun playing it today as I did many many years ago. The game still feels quick and responsive which I’m sure is mainly due to the hardware upgrade it’s running on vs my PC back in the day. Still rude and crude this game hands down inspired so many titles that followed it. It was amazing to go back and experience it after all this time. This gives me hope that one day we will get another great Duke Nukem game sometime down the line (hopefully sooner rather than later) as I think that in the right hands from the start of development (C’mon GearBox) we can all get back to Hailing the King Baby!
This game is a must play for any retro gaming enthusiasts as well as anyone who enjoys FPS games. It is an excellent lesson in History of Gaming that shouldn’t be overlooked.