Finally we know why Duke Nukem Forever has experienced such frequent delays--all its development talent has been poached by the Duke Nukem Mobile 3D team. The first-person-shooter genre hasn't historically been a great fit for mobile's digital keypad, but Machineworks has mostly sidestepped (or should we say "strafed"?) this problem with some subtle auto-aim. Duke looks phenomenally good and packs some of the most frenetic firefights on mobile into its 21 short levels.
Like always, Duke Nukem is forced to kick some serious ass with his steel-toed boots when he's attacked by alien pigcops, extending their fascist regime over a subjugated human race. These fall easily but soon give way to more annoying baddies, like octabrains, recon patrol vehicles, and some outrageous bosses. The character models in Duke Nukem 3D are simply the best on V Cast. Nowhere else will you see such smooth, high-poly aliens. These malevolent malefactors also move really well, thanks to some development wizardry. It seems that the engine renders the models at several levels of quality--higher detail when up close, and lower detail when a ways off. Even when you're facing a dozen enemies at once, you won't see any hitch-ups. The backgrounds aren't quite as detailed, but still look good. From the options menu, you can choose to run the game in sprite mode, but this really isn't necessary on the LG VX8000. Duke Nukem Mobile 3D runs just fine.
Although Duke Nukem can be beaten on normal difficulty in an hour or two, it really seems like a full-scale adventure, thanks to the variety of environments, including a "gentlemen's club" level, a zeppelin hangar level, and an occult dungeon level. The 21 unique stages are downloaded in six module packs. Of course, you could always up the challenge to the "Damn, I'm Good" setting, should you want to extend your play time. On any difficulty mode, though, the game introduces new challenges at the perfect pace; you'll always be overwhelmed just the right amount.
Duke Nukem's control is about as good as you can expect from a mobile phone's chintzy buttons. You use the navigation pad to move and shoot, and the number pad to switch weapons and strafe. It's impossible to adjust your firing height, which is a problem only when it comes to dispatching turrets. Thankfully, these show up in only two instances and can be disabled via nearby consoles. The biggest issue is that it takes forever to turn to face aliens attacking you from behind. Machineworks compensates for this by including a "quick look" option, which speeds your turning if you tap in the direction of your alien assailant. This is probably a feature you'll want to use, although enabling it will decrease the game's difficulty and change your tactics considerably.
A lot of Duke Nukem's character is expressed through his oft-quoted sound bites, some of which are present here. Upon starting a level, Duke will proclaim "It's payback time!" or "This is really pissing me off!" He often says "Damn I'm good!" after defeating a boss and claiming his keycard. The weapon reports are unchanged from the Tapwave Zodiac version on which DK Mobile 3D was based. Between levels and in menus, you'll hear some up-tempo, MIDI-based rock and roll. We would have liked more verbal variety from the Duke, who is known to not mince words when it comes to breasts, aliens, and pirates.
Most mobile action games feel stilted and slow. Duke Nukem, by contrast, will have you blasting away droves of aliens of various shapes, sizes, and levels of firepower. Each level is alternately quiet (too quiet...) and unbelievably hectic. The Duke will never bother with "light puzzle solving" or platforming; he's content to shoot things. If you are too, you'll dig this game...for as long as it lasts, anyway. We could have stood to see a little more of the Duke character and continuum--more strippers, some XXX-rated movie theaters--but what's here is high-quality and much, much more enjoyable than you'd expect from a mobile shooter.