It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the original Duke Nukem 3D was released. 20 years since our titular character first set out on his one man quest to repel an alien invasion that threatened Earth, accompanied only by his killer one-liners. Now, thanks to Gearbox Software, Duke Nukem is back, and he hasn’t lost his touch just yet. Hail to the king indeed.
First off, lets start with what’s old and what’s new in 20th Anniversary World Tour. The game is still the same as what you might remember from all those years ago, same fantastic shooting, same level design and the same enemies, at least as far as the original 4 episodes go. The only difference might be the re-recorded lines for Duke by his original voice actor Jon St. John.
And if you’re thinking that this might be a bad thing, I’m here to assure you it’s not. There is a reason Duke Nukem 3D holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers, and it’s because it did everything spectacularly, whether that be the gunplay, the bosses sequences or even the occasional nods to other Sci-Fi franchises. It runs with its old tried and tested formula, and doesn’t miss a beat while doing so.
Now we move onto what’s new in 20th Anniversary World Tour. The most major addition is a brand new fifth episode titled “Alien World Order”, which contains 8 brand new levels that are some of the most interesting and detailed in the entire game, and combined with the impressive new soundtrack, can be an absolute joy to play and explore.
The same however cannot be said about the new Firefly enemies and the new Incinerator weapon though. The Firefly enemies can almost seem daunting when first encountered, with their ability to shrink size and spit flames. But a few encounters in and you realize that they aren’t very intimidating at all, and that you can just mow them with a single shot from a sufficiently powerful weapon like the RPG. This was so disappointing because this was the first new enemy in the entire game and could have been a much better challenge for players, and they look really cool as well.
I’m not that upset about the Incinerator, which is basically a Flamethrower weapon. It’s not a particularly bad weapon, but the accuracy leaves much to be desired as I found myself missing half of the shots I took, even up close. I also didn’t make much use of it apart from on regular cannon fodder enemies like the Assault Troopers or the Pig Cops, simply because I had much better weapons in my arsenal already.
We also see a return of the rewind feature that first showed up on the Xbox Live Arcade port of the game. What this basically does is allow players to rewind and replay a level from any previous point upon death via a slider that shows up on screen. This is one of the features I’m most conflicted about in the game as I found it much more preferable and convenient to just reload one of my saves. But I cannot deny it’s usefulness, especially for newer players.
Also added was a graphical option which upscales the game’s original 2.5D engine into True 3D, as well as generally improving the game’s effects and lighting. This is a terrific addition, and perhaps the only one that truly makes the game feel adjusted for current gen platforms.
My biggest problem with 20th Anniversary World Tour has nothing to do with the game’s content in fact, and has a lot to do with the game’s cost. Some of you might already be aware that Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition was also another port of the game that went on sale back in 2013, and while I have no doubt in my mind that die-hard fans of the franchise would be prepared to purchase the 20th Anniversary World Tour in a heartbeat, it’s not very encouraging knowing that Gearbox Software doesn’t even offer up any discounts for those who have already spent money on the very same game just a few years prior. If you already own the Megaton Edition, you’re basically paying $20 for 8 additional levels of the game.
In the end though, Duke Nukem 3D is just as fun today as it was when it originally released. It’s fun, frantic and just thoroughly enjoyable, even though some of the new features leave much to be desired. The game also manages to get away with a lot of other things that might be absolutely unacceptable in any other modern first person shooter, but they can easily be forgiven in light of the fact that Duke Nukem 3D isn’t exactly, and you might have already guessed this by now, a modern shooter. Knowing that this is just a remaster/port and not a ground up remake, I went into the game with the simple mindset of: why fix, what isn’t broken. I can tell you I came out impressed.
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is available now for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC. It was developed and published by Gearbox Software. This review covers the PC version of the game.
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour Review (PC)
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour manages to remind us exactly what made Duke Nukem 3D so special to begin with. And while not all of it's new content may be up to par with what fans have come to expect, it is still an excellent game and one that is sure to appeal to both die-hard fans, as well as a new generation of gamers.