STAFF REVIEW of Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour (Xbox One)

Friday, November 4, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour Box art I may have already been a teenager when Duke Nukem 3D originally released in 1996, but that didn’t stop the immature child in me from giggling at every one-liner Duke had to say throughout his adventure to save Earth. I remember staying up late at night, going through the levels again and again, trying to unearth just one more secret that I had not found. Duke Nukem 3D has been ported to virtually every playable device so far, and it was only a matter of time before it came to current consoles. While it may not be the all-encompassing package some would hope for, there is a lot of new features and content contained within to entice you, even if you’ve played the game for the past 20 years like myself.

Given that the game is 20 years old, there’s a good chance you’ve most likely played it in some form during the past 2 decades. If you have not somehow managed to do so, all you need to know is that Duke Nukem has balls of steel when it comes time to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and he’s all outta gum. It’s a good thing Duke released many years ago when it did, as it would be met with even more scrutiny than it did back then in today’s politically correct world.

So what’s exactly new with this 20th Anniversary Edition? The first thing you’re going to notice is the graphic upgrade. Now this is nowhere near a remake or HD version, and it’s not trying to be, but it does look better when compared to its original release. Taking a cue from the Halo Anniversary playbook, you can toggle the original and the new “True3D Rendering” graphics instantly with a tap on the D-Pad. Keep expectation in check, as it still looks like it’s from the mid 90’s, but it’s definitely more ‘cleaner’ albeit a subtle improvement.

New music has made its way into this release, and the iconic theme song is intact, but the real treat is newly recorded one-liners from Jon St. John, the voice of the titular hero. Also, in the audio department is an inclusion of a commentary that can be toggled on or off. Finding icons scattered throughout the levels will allow you to get a behind the scenes viewpoint from original developers. My only gripe with this is that there are a ton in the first few levels, and very few afterwards, with many levels having none at all.

Lastly is the selling point that will get most long time Duke fans excited: A brand new episode of retro levels created by the original designers Allen Blum III and Richard “Levelord” Gray. These handful of new levels feel as though they belong, almost as if they were found on the cutting room floor and put back into the game where they were supposed to be in the first place.

I was very pleased to find out that when Duke dies, there’s a rewind feature that allows you to rewind to ANY point in the level and start again from there. How many times have you wished you’d done something different before you died? Well, this can help you remedy that, giving you a second chance, or as many as you need to complete the level.

While primitive compared to current games, it’s been a few years since I played Duke 3D, and I was shocked at how good the level design was for a game this old. I obviously view the game much different than I did when I was in high school, trying to make sure my grandparents didn’t hear or see what I was playing, but I was really impressed with how well it holds up, not visually or with its simple gameplay, but just the world design as a whole.

Sadly the 20th Anniversary Edition doesn’t include the numerous expansion packs from previous editions. While it’s not billed as a comprehensive Duke Nukem 3D experience, it would have been nice to include given the age of the game. Granted, the new episode does help take away some of that sting, and there is a lot of extra bonuses included.

My favorite feature had to be the inclusion of classic cheats. Back in the day, pre-internet, you had to know someone who knew the cheat codes or wait for the latest gaming magazine to print them to try them out. Many games had cheats unlike today, so it’s a great throwback feature to include. The best part is that it doesn’t disable achievements like in most other games that include the feature.

Multiplayer is included but every time I tried to find a game, I was unable to. I’m sure the player base isn’t huge, but even after days of trying, I’ve yet to experience it unfortunately. There’s also a weird delay when weapon switching worth noting. Nothing that’s a deal breaker, but it takes an odd amount of time to swap weapons, something you sometimes need to do quickly on the fly when the situation arises.

If you’ve never played Duke Nukem 3D before, the 20th Anniversary Edition is easily a 'recommend' given the slightly cleaner graphics, new hilarious one-liners, and a fitting new episode made by the people that know the game best more than anyone else. That being said, for a game that’s two decades old, the $19.99 price tag does seem a bit steep, even for us longtime Duke fans that have bought the game multiple times before. Now, who wants some?

Overall: 6.9 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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