Duke Nukem has crossed several genre lines throughout the last decade, appearing not only in the first-person shooters he's known best for, but also in 2D side scrollers and third-person adventure games. The style of play in his latest outing mirrors that found in Duke Nukem: Time to Kill - the 1998 PlayStation Tomb Raider-like game that was something like the eighth iteration in the Nukem series. While Duke's brand of '80s action-movie machismo may seem particularly antiquated, Land of the Babes shows that the hero's endurance hasn't completely run out yet.
In the game, the earth's future is in crisis again, and its remaining few human inhabitants send for Duke to help put things right. In this troubled time, all men have been hunted down by alien forces, leaving only a ragtag group of female fighters, who at one point, by all appearances, made their living starring in late-night films on Cinemax. Now it's up to you to wipe out the alien invaders - and the schoolboy premise surmises that once you've completed that job, you'll start working to single-handedly repopulate the planet.
As in Time to Kill, you run, jump, climb, swim, puzzle-solve, and do all the other things that Lara Croft does in her series. However, since Duke is primarily known for firepower, the emphasis here is much more on shooting than on anything else. Pipe bombs, freeze throwers, shrinkers, and all the other weapons that have appeared in previous Duke games show up here, as do enemies such as the pig cops and necrobrains. The controls work well, and your character turns translucent whenever he's blocking the view in front of you, meaning that the game camera is never a problem. One new feature since Time to Kill is an autotargeting function. This keeps you from getting shot up too much by foes before you're able to aim your sight on them manually. But the autotargeting is an imperfect fix in that it makes the gameplay a bit repetitive.
As he did in earlier games in the series, Duke makes tongue-in-cheek comments full of sexual innuendo throughout the levels, though the humor falls increasingly flat over time. The politically correct world that cartoon characters like Duke and Dennis Leary were created to rebel against no longer seems to exist, making Duke's jokes come off like humor from another country, or at least another time. It's less annoying than it is dated, but the game's music and sound effects are at least adequate to the task at hand. Land of the Babes' graphics, on the other hand, are a bit behind the current standard for the PlayStation, though the textures do look slightly improved over those in Time to Kill. The main difference between this game and its PlayStation brother is that Land of the Babes is a bit tougher, which is an improvement, yet it's also often more difficult to figure out where to go next, which leads to a lot of backtracking. The two-player deathmatch mode from Time to Kill shows up here, but the lack of computer-controlled enemies means Nukem two-play is merely a beefed-up game of tag.
Though most people will have a hard time buying the game because of its subtitle, Land of the Babes, it's not an awful game. It's straightforward and cliché-ridden, but at its heart, it's essentially fun, and there are far less likable games in the 3D action-adventure realm (such as Danger Girl). Fans of the genre can consider Land of the Babes a light snack between hearty meals.