Considering the fact that 3D Realms released the shareware version of Duke Nukem 3D in early '96, this PlayStation version feels like a blast from the past. Still, when it comes to the would-be king of first-person shooters, you can bet that people will be ready to "come get some," no matter what time or which platform.
Everyone who watches the evening news knows that sex and violence sells. Hence, The 17+ warning and lurid screenshots on the Duke Nukem jewel case become an alluring advertisement for what's inside. The little black CD fits all three "episodes" from the original game and throws in a final episode to keep things interesting. Playing through the game, Duke visits a host of cheesy locales, including strip bars and skin-flick theatres, eventually finding himself aboard a giant space station. Each soda machine, movie poster, magazine rack, and barroom is luxuriously appointed with beautiful textures, making environments fresh each time you round a corner. Of course, beauty isn't necessarily a protective quality, as you'll quickly find that most objects can be obliterated with a couple of properly aimed gun blasts.
Weapons exhibit an ingenuity that surpasses the Doom model of simply raising the caliber with each new gun. For example, Duke can lob a pipe bomb and wait to detonate it when an unsuspecting creature approaches, or he can reduce befuddled foes to a squashable size with a shrinker gun. There are also original items that can be picked up, such as the jetpack, which gives Duke the power to fly around freely until his jets have cooled. When the novelty of these implements of destruction begins to get old, however, the game as a whole begins to cool down.
First of all, the monsters appear markedly dated. LAPD piggies, flying brains, and spastic, machine gun-wielding aliens are among the humorous nasties you'll meet, but their sprite-based 2D rendering makes the action a little flat. When you combine this with the fact that the animations of fiery explosions and pulpifying creatures seem to be sorely lacking in frames (as compared with the PC version), you may question why Duke ever decided to make another platform jump.
What's more, only three set control configurations are offered. Control style can vary greatly from player to player, especially in first-person shooters. Given this, most people may never get their coordination entirely up to speed in Duke Nukem before another, more option-rich shooter comes along for the PlayStation.
If you want to duke it out deathmatch-style in Total Meltdown, you're out of luck unless you have two PlayStations. Why 3D Realms didn't allow for players to have a slug fest on one machine, or even include AI "bots" to use as target practice (as it did with the N64 version), remains a mystery.
Duke Nukem remains a classic game for the PC. Running on a PlayStation, the game suffers from sketchy graphics and limited control. If nothing else, this PlayStation version will give non-PC owners a chance to sample 3D Realms' ridiculous world of blood and lace.