3D Realms' trash-talking strongman Duke Nukem first appeared in side-scrolling platform games before switching to first-person shooters, making this current leap into the 3D adventure genre a not too huge or unheard of leap. Yes, this latest Duke title, Duke Nukem: Time to Kill, places our boy in a Tomb Raider-style world, where players control him from a behind-the-back perspective as he runs, jumps, climbs, and flips switches much the same as any old Lara Croft would.
In fact, the graphics and control of Time to Kill are so much like Tomb Raider that it's impossible to not think about when Atari sued Magnavox over KC Munchkin's similarity to Pac-Man. (Perhaps Duke's joking gibes at Lara will keep the creators protected under the auspices of parody. Or something.) That's not to say that there aren't any differences in the gameplay. In fact, there are two large improvements over the Tomb Raider-style camera alone. The first is the game's look function, which allows you to turn all the way around when stopping to view your surroundings, and its center sight also doubles for weapon crosshairs. Duke also turns translucent whenever he's in the way of anything you could possibly want to see. These two things all but eliminate the 3D camera problems found in this genre of games.
Another plus that Time to Kill holds over the Tomb Raider line is the area of gunplay. Lack of enemies to shoot has been a major complaint of that series, something which the complainers will have nothing to gripe about here. There are tons of familiar aliens to shoot, and nearly all the weapons from the earlier Duke Nukem games (from pipe bombs to the RPG and a few new ones thrown in for good measure) are here to wipe them out with. The rampant destruction and gore found here are a lot of fun and make for a good payoff.
Those who enjoyed the difficult running-jumping-climbing-grabbing puzzles of the Tomb Raider series may be a little disappointed with Time to Kill because compared with the tougher levels of those titles this game is a cakewalk. However, those who found those levels to be a pain in the head will be glad that the puzzles aren't nearly so mind-numbing but should still feel they could have been a bit harder. All in all, a better midpoint between too easy and too hard could've been met by Duke Nukem: Time to Kill. As it is, it's a bit on the simple side.
Because of the ease of the puzzles, rampant number of power-ups, weak sister bosses, and the fact that there just aren't that many levels, you can carve your way through the game pretty quickly. A two-player split-screen mode exists, apparently to add to the game's value, but since there are no computer-controlled Dukes to join in the fray, it ends up being little more than playing a video game version of tag, just like Midway's deathmatch mode in Quake for the Nintendo 64. In the end, it's a fun enough title that fans of both Tomb Raider and Duke Nukem will definitely enjoy, but they'll also walk away feeling like Duke could've handled a tougher, or at least longer, game.