It's rare when a game comes along that really kicks your ass. 3D Realm's full version of Duke Nukem 3D is just that kind of posterior pummeler. With its free-flowing 3D action, over-the-top weapons, and ruthlessly attitudinal protagonist, Duke Nukem will have PC gamers worldwide rubbing their rumps with spine-tingling glee. Prepare to take off your thinking cap and immerse yourself in a world of violent bliss. The ballots have been cast and the verdict has arrived: The Duke is A-#1.
Based on the hackneyed first-person Doom formula, Duke Nukem 3D is the first 3D shoot-em-up to offer the player more. There are more diverse environments, more devastating weapons, and greatly improved playability. Unlike the fantastical dungeons and lava pits found in Doom and its kindred, the atmosphere in Duke Nukem is more tangible. The story revolves loosely around a "Mars needs women" theme, involving aliens and their abduction of scantily-clad women. As Duke, you explore everything from an alien mothership to metropolitan underbellies, including smut shops, skin flicks, strip bars, and the horror of horrors: karaoke bars. The levels are massive and, even on the easiest difficulty setting, provide a formidable challenge.
Duke allows you to be an action hero to the tenth power. If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn't move, shoot it. Anything and everything can be destroyed. Coin stuck in the soda machine? Pipe bomb the sucker. Toilet won't flush? Nothing a few rounds from your doubled-barreled shotgun can't handle. You slay your way through each scenario, filling aliens full of lead, even shooting wounded adversaries as they bleed on the ground, whimpering for mercy. And all the while, Duke punctuates the violence with the type of flippantly cool asides required of our modern-day action heroes: "It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I'm all outta gum."
Sure Duke's a brazenly tough chartacter, but as the saying goes, "the weapon makes the man." 3D Realms has saved the most destructive weapons for the registered release. In addition to the standard issue firearms found in the shareware version, you now have access to the Freezer (transforms your opponent into a fragile block of ice), the Shrinker (reduces your opponent to bite-size proportions), the Tripbomb (great for creating booby traps), and the Devastator (the name says it all).
There were, however, a few morally questionable conventions of the game - namely those numerous instances in which the player comes across one or several women, bound and rendered helpless by the aliens, who are almost always inadvertently caught in the line of fire. Aside from that, Duke Nukem 3D is one of the best action games to be released in a long, long time. Dozens of games have tried to snatch the Doom crown, but Duke may be the first contender to get a clean shot at the throne. And as Duke himself would say, "Hail to the King, baby."