After finishing this horrible expansion, I said to myself: "Why?"

User Rating: 2.5 | Duke Xtreme PC
I thought the only way someone could mess up with Duke Nukem 3D (1996, 3D Realms) was to design bad maps for it and group them into an expansion. But WizardWorks did much more with Duke Xtreme (1997), a terrible add-on for the popular First-Person Shooter by 3D Realms. If the lame new levels weren't enough, the developers also added several "features" that definitely didn't improve the original game in any way.

At the first moment you'll notice the lack of effort put in this expansion, because there isn't a custom main menu to browse the new maps and play them in a logical order. It seems that WizardWorks just downloaded from the Internet the worst homemade levels for Duke Nukem 3D to create this add-on. The 25 single player maps aren't divided in episodes; you just pick up one of them, beat the level and choose another one from the list (this is only if you're using a Win32 port such as JFDuke3D or EDuke32, otherwise you'll have to add specific parameters in the prompt command). There is no progress in the game, so you have to start each map without the weapons and items you acquired in the last level you played. At least each map is self-contained, but I didn't find the lack of continuity appealing.

So I decided to play Duke Xtreme by beating each level in alphabetical order. The first map of the list coincidentally introduces you all the new stuff this expansion brings. The most obvious change is the auto-pistol, which became silent and incredibly powerful. It's even stronger than the machine gun and, seriously, a full clip may cause more damage than a RPG rocket. In less than a minute you'll encounter one of the new monsters, a serpent that fires laser shots and spreads poison if you're too close. This addition to the Duke Nukem menagerie takes about three shotgun shots to kill, and its rapid retaliations make it a dangerous enemy in close distances.

Not so after the snake encounter you'll find a boss-like creature that launches explosives like a gatling gun. Even though this new alien is big, you can finish it pretty easy if you keep it in constant fire. This is pretty much the most relevant stuff that Duke Xtreme adds to the original game, although you'll still notice minor changes: now the Steroids not only increases Duke's movement speed, but also makes him invincible during the adrenaline rush. And the American hero now uses a tiny knife for melee fights instead of his kick; oddly enough, he also uses the same knife to smash shrinked opponents.

The machine gunner alien from the first Duke Nukem 3D is a bit stronger in this expansion. He deals much more damage and a group of three of them firing simultaneously at you means certain death. Strangely, those flying mechanized traps now explode with a single bullet, although in the original game they could take more than a full pistol clip and still fly towards the player.

As you can see, the changes are thin and the only way to redeem this add-on would be a good pack of new maps. Well, if "good" means "amount", them the objective was achieved in Duke Xtreme, which features 25 solo maps and another 25 competitive levels. But if you're looking for quality, then this is the worst choice you can pick up. I never played bad levels like these in any other FPS game, even in Duke!Zone II and those underground expansions.

The maps in Duke Xtreme are full of dead ends and huge empty places. They lack in detail and complexity; you just wander around killing packs of aliens (and serpents) in lame environments, just to find a few keycards or switches to reach the exit. Each level ends up pretty fast, even at high difficulty settings. I think the Razzie Winner is a map called "Dirge", which resumes in finding two keycards, kill around a dozen enemies and hit the nuke button to finish the level. It isn't only ridiculously easy, but also quite uninspired and not fun at all.

The only above-average map in this expansion is the last one, called "YDTC", where Duke visits his training center that looks like a nice club, with a large pool, a snack bar, treadmills etc. Really a cool map... actually the only interesting one. The lack of good sense is even more evident in "Toys", a level where everything in huge, giving the impression that you and your enemies are toys in a colossal house. In this map, Duke passes under doors and swims through lengthy pipes to access sinks in bathrooms and kitchens. Personally I never played before such an absurd level like this.

What about the 25 deathmatch maps? They are mostly arenas with a few weapons and items thrown in. It's very strange to play a level without anything special to make it look more unique. Some of the multiplayer maps don't have a single button or switch to trigger interesting events; only a few random obstacles to take cover and that's it. Words fail to describe how terrible Duke Xtreme is. WizardWorks certainly don't understand what a good expansion is made of.

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