Review: “Infestation In Time Revisited TC” (Mod/Levels For “Duke Nukem 3D”)

2017 Artwork Duke 3D infestation in time mod review

Well, I still seem to be in a “Duke Nukem 3D” kind of mood at the moment, so I thought that I’d check out a rather interesting set of levels called “Infestation In Time Revisited TC“.

Although, at the time of writing, the ModDB page refers to an earlier version of “Infestation In Time”, the download page only includes the new version – which I will be reviewing.

In order to play “Infestation In Time Revisited TC”, you’ll need to download the “eDuke32” source port for “Duke Nukem 3D”. Then copy the ‘Duke3D.grp’ and ‘Duke.rts’ files from your copy of “Duke Nukem 3D” into the “eDuke 32” folder. After this, just follow the instructions that are included in the readme file for “Infestation In Time Revisited TC”. Once you’ve done this, use the dedicated “IITC” batch file to start the game (don’t just use the default “eDuke32” launcher!)

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Infestation In Time Revisited TC”:

infestation in time episode select

“Infestation In Time Revisited TC” contains 14 levels (spread over two episodes), some secret & multiplayer levels, new monsters, new weapons, new textures, 3D models, new gameplay mechanics, new music and new sounds.

As the title suggests, it’s a total conversion – and yet it still looks very much like a “Duke Nukem” game, albeit with a hint of “Serious Sam”.

The basic plot is that Duke is relaxing at home when *shock horror* the aliens decide to invade again. After battling them in Los Angeles, he travels to an EDF base in the Antarctic where he learns that the aliens are using a time machine of some kind….

Yes, Duke REALLY will get medieval on their asses. Literally!

Yes, Duke REALLY will get medieval on their asses. Literally!

This is my BOOMSTICK!

This is my BOOMSTICK!

Although this mod tells a story, it mostly contains the kind of classic non-linear level design that you would expect from a real FPS game, even in the obligatory train level.

In fact, the only truly linear level in the game is still surprisingly interesting for the simple reason that you spend literally all of it trying to outrun a series of fast-moving explosions.

This level does what it says on the tin.

This level does what it says on the tin.

One really cool thing about the level design in this mod is that there’s a large variety of locations to explore – from a secret Russian base, to the streets of LA, to the middle ages, to Ancient Egyptian catacombs, to – my personal favourite – a gothic realm that exists beyond the limits of space and time:

Complete with "Harry Potter"-style dementors too :) This is so cool :) ... Well, apart from the puzzle near the end of the level.

Complete with “Harry Potter”-style dementors too 🙂 This is so cool 🙂 … Well, apart from the puzzle near the end of the level.

Yay! This is just like "Stargate" and "Serious Sam" :)

Yay! This is just like “Stargate” and “Serious Sam” 🙂

The maker of this mod is also a huge fan of switch puzzles too and, although most of them aren’t too bad – the first level contains a puzzle with nine switches! Yes, there’s probably a solution hidden somewhere in the level but, after a lot of trial, error and fruitless searching, I had to resort to cheats in order to progress:

Of course, the REAL code you need to use here is "DNCLIP" (or typing "noclip" in the eDuke32 command prompt).

Of course, the REAL code you need to use here is “DNCLIP” (or typing “noclip” in the eDuke32 command prompt).

Likewise, level five of the first episode contains a switch puzzle… where the switches are spread out across a large level! Again, for the sake of my sanity, I had to use a cheat code or two.

There's fun difficulty and then there's cheap difficulty. Cheats are useful for the latter.

There’s fun difficulty and then there’s cheap difficulty. Cheats are useful for the latter.

Still, the mod includes some rather innovative new gameplay features. One of these is a cash system where Duke can find $5 bills lying around levels that can be used to buy weapons in several weapon shops that are spread out around the game. There are also ladders that Duke can climb and a rudimentary physics system that has to be used to solve several puzzles:

This isn't actually the solution to the puzzle in question, but it was fun to do.

This isn’t actually the solution to the puzzle in question, but it was fun to do.

As for the weapons, “Infestation In Time Revisited TC” includes some fairly cool ones. Some of the guns now even have 3D models too.

Interestingly, Duke now has two pistols – a “Golden pistol” which is fairly similar to the standard “Duke 3D” pistol and a “realistic” pistol which fires more rapidly (and uses a different ammo type). The shotgun, RPG and tripmines also have new textures, but are basically the same. There’s a slightly useless grenade launcher, a Devastator-style plasma weapon and a flamethrower too 🙂

It's like the freezethrower... but with FIRE!

It’s like the freezethrower… but with FIRE!

As for the new monsters, there are almost too many to mention. This is one of those really cool mods where you’ll never get bored with the monsters for the simple reason that there are just so many different types! But, most surprisingly of all, this game also includes an unused monster from the original “Duke 3D” too:

During my limited experiments with the Build editor when I was a kid, I saw these things in the sprite files and I could never work out what they were supposed to be. But, now I know!

During my limited experiments with the Build editor when I was a kid, I saw these things in the sprite files and I could never work out what they were supposed to be. But, now I know!

Musically, this mod includes both traditional 1990s style music (in the medieval levels) and a classic rock/hard rock soundtrack. Personally, I’ve always thought that Duke would be more of a heavy metal fan, but it’s cool nonetheless. Plus, in true “Serious Sam” fashion, the final boss battle in the second episode does include some epic metal music in the background:

The music is really cool, but this boss battle is actually easier than the episode one boss battle for the simple reason that there's a circular arena and no extra monsters.

The music is really cool, but this boss battle is actually easier than the episode one boss battle for the simple reason that there’s a circular arena and no extra monsters.

All in all, this is a really fun mod. Yes, it might be a bit too puzzle-heavy and some parts of it may be a little clunky, but it’s still ridiculously impressive when you consider that it’s based on a game from 1996 🙂 If you’re a “Duke 3D” fan, this mod is well worth checking out 🙂

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a four at least.

Advertisements

Mini Review: “Super Nukem Bros.” (Mod For “Duke Nukem 3D”)

2017 Artwork Super Nukem Bros mini review

Well, it has been ages since I last reviewed any levels for “Duke Nukem 3D”, so I thought that I’d look at a rather strange mod called “Super Nukem Bros.” that is based on the old NES “Super Mario” games. At the time of writing this review, I’ve played about two thirds of the mod, so this review will only reflect my experiences so far.

Since the first “Mario” game I ever played was on the SNES, the NES “Mario” games are slightly before my time – but, after playing a “Doom II” WAD called “Doom: The Golden Souls“, I’m always curious about “Mario”-style FPS games.

As usual, you’ll need the ‘eDuke 32’ source port and a copy of the full version of “Duke 3D” in order to run this mod. [Edit: If you’ve got the modern “World Tour” edition, then this community patch might be helpful in getting the game to run with eDuke 32. I’ve got an older version of the game, so I haven’t tested this patch (with or without the mod) though.]

Just copy the ‘Duke3d.grp’ and ‘Duke.rts’ files from your full version of the game into the ‘eDuke32’ directory. Then create a folder called “autoload” in that directory and copy the mod’s ZIP file into it. Then, when you start ‘eDuke32’, click the box that says ‘Enable Autoload Folder’.

Anyway, let’s take a look at ‘Super Nukem Bros.’:

Super nukem bros - title screen

The game is split into three short episodes, the first two are a re-creation of the very first ‘Super Mario’ game. The third one is entitled ‘An Alternate World’ and I’ll discuss my limited experiences with it later.

One of the first things that I will say is that “Super Nukem Bros.” takes a very literal approach to recreating the original “Mario” game. Each level is quite literally a thin, linear corridor with all of the usual platforms and pipes that you would expect from a “Mario”-style game. Although the game only features “Duke 3D” monsters, it does include a new ‘fire flower’ weapon that replaces the chaingun and/or rocket launcher:

Although it has limited ammo, it can gib virtually any monster with a single shot.

Although it has limited ammo, it can gib virtually any monster with a single shot.

The most amusing part of this mod is the fact that the steroids have been replaced with ‘Staroids’ instead. And, yes, they even play the classic ‘golden star’ music from “Mario” when you use them:

[Insert controversial joke about Russia and the 2016 Olympics here]

[Insert controversial joke about Russia and the 2016 Olympics here]

As for the gameplay and level design, the first two episodes are fairly good when you consider that they’re trying to be an accurate reproduction of a 2D platform game.

...And, yet, it's probably STILL less linear than many modern "AAA" FPS games are..

…And, yet, it’s probably STILL less linear than many modern “AAA” FPS games are..

Personally, I’d have preferred it if the designer of these levels had gone for more traditional FPS levels with a “Mario” style look (like in “Doom: The Golden Souls”), but I can understand that this mod was going for historical accuracy more than anything else.

Although first-person platforming is the bane of many a classic FPS gamer’s existence, it’s handled fairly well in the first two episodes – with generously-sized platforms and a large jump height. In fact, the first two episodes are actually fairly easy. Apart from a frustrating section involving cannons and occasional ammo shortages, of course.

Yes, this is probably the most difficult part of the first two episodes.

Yes, this is probably the most difficult part of the first two episodes.

However, I should probably talk about what little I’ve played of the third episode.

Although I initially thought that this episode contained better and more non-linear level design – the first level alone commits one of the cardinal sins of first-person platforming, which renders it almost unplayable (and led to me abandoning the third episode halfway through the first level!):

 Tiny platforms are ok in 2D platform games. In first-person games, they're nearly impossible! Even without monsters!

Tiny platforms are ok in 2D platform games. In first-person games, they’re nearly impossible! Even without monsters!

As for the music, it’s surprisingly good. All of the music in “Super Nukem Bros” is based on music from the classic “Mario” games, although it has a slightly richer and more complex sound if I remember rightly. The music from the title screen is probably the best track in the entire mod 🙂

All in all, the concept behind this mod is pretty cool and I have to applaud the fact that someone has managed to re-create the first “Mario” game in “Duke Nukem 3D”. However, this mod isn’t without flaws and – if you’ve got a copy of “Doom II” – then I’d recommend checking out “Doom: The Golden Souls” instead if you want a “Mario”-style FPS game.

If I had to give “Super Nukem Bros” a rating out of five, it would get three.

Mini Review: “Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0” (Mod For “Duke Nukem 3D”)

2015 Artwork Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0 review sketch

To me, “Duke Nukem 3D” and Christmas are inextricably connected. I can’t think of a cosier, warmer and more nostalgic game to play during the festive season than good old “Duke 3D”.

Fun fact: when I was a kid in the 1990s, I actually loaded up “Duke 3D” on Christmas day one year just to see if Duke would still say his “What are you waiting for? Christmas?” line. He did 🙂

So, imagine my delight when I recently discovered this Christmas-themed level for “Duke Nukem 3D” that was originally released in late 2013.

Running this mod is fairly easy, since it comes with a built-in launcher that uses the “eDuke32” source port. All you need to do is to unzip the download and then copy the “DUKE3D.grp” file from your registered copy of “Duke Nukem 3D” into the unzipped folder and you’re ready to go.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0”:

And, yes, that's snow falling on the menu :)

And, yes, that’s snow falling on the menu 🙂

Duke Nukem Xmas 2014 1.0″ contains a single new leve for “Duke 3D” called “It’s A Wonderful Life”. In this level, Duke has to fight his way through a really awesome alien-infested town during the festive season. It also features custom weapons, dialogue, graphics and music too.

Although the level begins in a fairly linear fashion, with Duke standing next to a stopped train and working his way through a series of caves, the level quickly unfolds into something more non-linear.

One of the really cool things about the beginning of this level is that Duke will actually say an entirely new line of dialogue (that seems to have been spliced together from several other lines of dialogue). If I remember rightly, he says: “Damn, they’re gonna pay for shooting up this train“.

From the look of things, I'd guess that there was snow on the line.

From the look of things, I’d guess that there was snow on the line.

I love how you can see part of the town from this part of the level :)

I love how you can see part of the town from this part of the level 🙂

Although the town is relatively small, it looks absolutely spectacular. Everything from the falling snow, to the fairy lights and the old Christmas movie posters really help to give this level a nostalgic 1990s movie Christmas style atmosphere and I love it!

Ok, I haven't seen any of these movies, but the posters really add some atmosphere to the level.

Ok, I haven’t seen any of these movies, but the posters really add some atmosphere to the level.

Yay, it's like the town from "Gremlins"!

Yay, it’s like the town from “Gremlins”!

..But with fairy lights! Fairy lights!

..But with fairy lights! Fairy lights!

Another interesting feature in this level is that many of the buildings feature teleportation-based doors. Basically, you walk up to the door and press “action” and you’ll be teleported to the building’s interior.

Even though this allows the level designers to make the buildings bigger on the inside and to include multi-storey areas, it also has a few problems too.

The first is that getting into the right position to use the doors can be a somewhat finicky affair where you have to strafe across the door whilst hammering the action button until the teleporter decides to activate.

The interior areas look really cool, but getting in and out of them can be a little annoying.

The interior areas look really cool, but getting in and out of them can be a little annoying.

Not only that, it’s impossible to tell which doors are accessible and which ones aren’t. Whilst this normally wouldn’t be an issue, it can be a problem when you are under heavy fire from groups of monsters.

Plus, when you enter a building, groups of monsters can sometimes have a habit of gathering near the outside of the door- which can often result in an almost instant death when you leave the building later.

The level also includes lots of other cool touches, such as destructible Christmas presents that can give you health or ammo – as well as the occasional sprite or texture that has been borrowed from “Blood” or “Doom”.

A "Doom" keycard? But, HOW did you know?

A “Doom” keycard? But, HOW did you know?

 There's also a playable jukebox - or should it be a "Duke Box"?

There’s also a playable jukebox – or should it be a “Duke Box”?

And this Easter egg that I only found when I re-played the level a while after completing it.

And this Easter egg that I only found when I re-played the level a while after completing it.

As for the gameplay, this level is fairly challenging. Even though the only aliens you will encounter are assault troopers and pig cops, the level’s difficulty is increased quite significantly by the rather limited supplies of ammo and health on offer.

Or, after re-playing the level again, it’s more accurate to say that the amount of easily-accessible health and ammo in this level is fairly low. However, if you look around enough, you can find quite a bit of health and ammo hidden in various parts of the map.

So, unless you go secret-hunting, you will need to use quick thinking, tactics and strategy if you want to get through this level in one piece.

Yes, you can run out of ammo (and health) VERY easily in this level...

Yes, you can run out of ammo (and health) VERY easily in this level…

Talking of weapons, this level also includes a new weapon too. The RPG has been replaced with a “firework launcher”. Although this acts just like the RPG, the ammo sprites and explosion effects are significantly different and much cooler.

Fortunately, you don't have to light a blue touchpaper every time you want to fire it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to light a blue touchpaper every time you want to fire it.

Musically speaking, this level is pretty cool too. The background music is a jazzy MIDI version of that old 1940s/50s Christmas song that plays during the credits of “Die Hard” (along with “Gremlins”, this is one of my favourite Christmas movies). I can’t remember the title of this song, but it’s really nostalgic and it goes really well with the rest of the level.

All in all, this is a brilliant level which is an absolutely wonderful accompaniment to the festive season. If you’re a 1990s retro gamer, then I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than with this level. Yes, some features of this level don’t work absolutely perfectly, but it’s still absolutely amazing.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half. Merry Duke-mas everyone 🙂

Review: “Duke Nukem 64 Mod” (Mod For the PC version of “Duke Nukem 3D”)

2014 Artwork Duke 64 Mod Review sketch

I’ve played a few versions of “Duke Nukem 3D” over the years (on the PC, The Playstation and the Gameboy Advance) but, despite having a Nintendo 64 when I was younger, I’ve never had a chance to play the N64 version of “Duke 3D”. So, imagine my delight when I recently discovered the “Duke Nukem 64 Mod” on ModDB.

This is, as you might imagine, a mod that converts the PC version of “Duke 3D” into something resembling the N64 version. Since I’ve never played the original N64 game, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the mod – but it looks fairly similar to screenshots and footage I’ve seen of “Duke Nukem 64”.

The mod is fairly easy to install – all you have to do is to unzip the file you’ve downloaded and then copy the “Duke 3d.grp” file from your full copy of the PC version of “Duke 3D” into the folder. Once you’ve done this, just click on the “eDuke32” icon and you are, to quote the man himself, ready for action!

D64 mod title screen

Although this mod allows you to select which episode you want to start on (like in the PC version), I don’t believe that the original N64 version of the game allowed you to do this.

But, if you start the mod normally, then the game will progress without asking you to select episodes after every few levels and I actually quite liked the fact that this was a much more streamlined version of “Duke 3D” than the original game.

Most of the levels from “Duke 3D” are included in this mod and I didn’t really notice any glaring omissions (although a couple of the less interesting levels, like the “Derelict” level from episode four, are thankfully missing).

One interesting change is that a couple of the secret levels from “Duke 3D” are included as “ordinary” levels and the three boss segments from the original game are now all separate levels. Even so, one or two of the secret levels (eg: the “Freeway” level) are still well-hidden.

Plus, several of the levels now feature various changes and the occasional additional area too. Most of these changes are fairly good and they breathe new life into a familiar game but a couple of the changes aren’t so good – more on that later…..

In addition to all of this, the final boss is now rendered in genuine 3D too. Unfortunately, this is mid-late 90s 3D and it shows – call me old fashioned, but the cycloid emperor looked a lot cooler when he was a good old fashioned 2D sprite like the other bosses.

It's down to you and me, you three-dimensional freak!

It’s down to you and me, you three-dimensional freak!

Another thing you will notice about this mod is that the weapons look different and, as you progress through the game, you’ll notice a few other changes to the weapons too.

Some of these changes work quite well, for example, the new pistol sounds and looks a lot more powerful than the old one and the chaingun has been replaced by a rather cool-looking pair of SMGs.

Duke's badass new SMGs (and the new 3D explosions in the background too)

Duke’s badass new SMGs (and the new 3D explosions in the background too)

But, other changes – like replacing the RPG with a grenade launcher and replacing the Devastator (one of the best weapons in “Duke 3D”) with an ordinary rocket launcher – don’t work so well. However, all of the explosions in the game are now in genuine 3D, so these weapons look slightly cooler when you use them.

Not only that, the freezethrower has been replaced with some kind of energy weapon which I only used about three times during my playthrough of the mod – it’s a powerful weapon (which can disintegrate enemies) but it takes a while to charge up and it guzzles ammo at a prodigious rate.

It looks cool, but you'll probably only use it about three times in the entire game....

It looks cool, but you’ll probably only use it about three times in the entire game….

In addition to this, you can find alternate ammo types for three of the weapons too. These are dum dum bullets for the pistol (which make it as powerful as the shotgun), exploding shells for the shotgun and some rather ineffective heat-seeking missiles for the rocket launcher.

This is a rather cool feature but, as you might expect, these alternate ammo types are in fairly short supply – so, use them carefully.

And don't waste exploding shotgun shells like THIS.

And don’t waste exploding shotgun shells like THIS.

Unfortunately, being based on a 1990s Nintendo game – there is pointless censorship in this mod. A lot of it. In fact, the only thing from the original game which thankfully hasn’t been censored are all of the ludicrous gibs and copious quantities of blood.

Surprisingly, this was the only part of the game that Nintendo’s puritanical American censors didn’t have a problem with.

In fact, the censorship in the game gives us an absolutely hilarious glimpse into the conservative American psyche. The adult bookstore in the second level has been replaced with a gun shop (with private viewing booths for 1980s action movies in the back, no less!) and the strip club from the same level has been replaced by a “Duke Burger” restaurant.

I don’t know why, but I still find the idea that deadly weapons and fast food are more “wholesome” than anything even remotely sexual to be absolutely hilarious.

Yep! None of that dangerously deadly pornography HERE! Just lots of clean, wholesome... guns!

Yep! None of that dangerously deadly pornography HERE! Just lots of clean, wholesome… guns!

As well as all of this, the risque posters have also been changed into cheesy parodies of 70s/80s movie posters, the Blues Brothers have replaced the dancers in the first level of episode three and – most bizarrely of all – the chapel is missing from the “Death Row” level.

Whilst I applaud Nintendo’s old stance on keeping religion well and truly out of videogames (even though they did it for the wrong reasons), this change ruins the level slightly and the replacement for the chapel is a rather boring hallway with a fairly lazy “Silence Of The Lambs” reference in it.

Now, that's one doomed movie reference!

Now, that’s one doomed movie reference!

In fact, the only part of the censorship that is even vaguely sensible is the fact that, whenever Duke encounters one of the many women who has been captured by the aliens, he can actually rescue her.

This is much more fitting with Duke’s stereotypical heroic character and it’s a hell of a lot less depressing than in the original PC game (and, surprisingly, the similar “rescuing” mechanic in “Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project” too).

However, one of these NPC sprites in “Duke 64” has been replaced with a rather grisly altered version of the original sprite. It’s kind of creepy that, to a conservative American censor, an eviscerated character is somehow more “wholesome” than a nude character. I mean, clothes were added to the other sprites in the N64 version, so I don’t see why they couldn’t have just done this with that sprite too.

On the plus side, the (heavily censored) versions of the dancing “babe” NPCs throughout the game are all completely invincible too – which means you don’t have to worry about accidentally shooting them or blowing them up when you’re fighting the monsters that are often nearby.

The voice acting in this game isn’t quite as good as it is in the original “Duke 3D”. Although Jon St. Jon returns to voice Duke Nukem, he sounds very slightly different in this mod – it’s hard to describe, but Duke’s voice isn’t quite as gravelly as it should be.

One change in the voice acting I liked was that Duke now says all of the old things he used to say at the start of a level in “Duke 3D” whenever he picks up a weapon – this meant that I got to hear my favourite line (“ready for action!”) a lot more than I did when I played the original “Duke 3D”.

But, on the downside, Nintendo’s bizarre censorship means that Duke’s dialogue is all pretty PG-rated in this version. However, they have at least made some effort to replace a couple of Duke’s lines – with limited success.

The best dialogue replacement is probably Duke’s line after defeating a mini battlelord – in the original game, he says something like “Die, you son of a bitch!” but in the N64 mod, he now says “You’re the disease… and I’m the cure!“, which is actually a much funnier line.

All in all, I’m not quite sure what to make of this version of “Duke 3D”. Although the censorship removes a lot of what made the original game so funny and a couple of the new weapons are fairly crappy, there’s still a lot of good stuff here and a few of the changes actually improve the game.

Not only that, the gameplay is still as fun and as action-packed as you would expect it to be. If you’re a fan of the PC version of “Duke 3D”, then it’s certainly worth downloading this mod and giving it a go.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would get a four.

Review: “Duke Nukem Forever 2013” (Mod For “Duke Nukem 3D”)

Ready for action! .... At long last...

Ready for action! …. At long last…

Does anyone remember, back in the early 2000s, when a trailer [NSFW] for the long-awaited “Duke Nukem Forever” finally emerged? It was bombastic, it was action-packed and, damn, did Duke look good on the “Unreal” engine!

Of course, this was never to be and this version of “Duke Nukem Forever” would end up being consigned to the shadowy crypts below 3D Realms’ offices. Instead, we had to wait until 2011 before a totally different version of “Duke Nukem Forever” was officially released.

However, thanks to some wonderful modders, we now have a chance to see what this early version of “Duke Nukem Forever” might have looked like. I am, of course, talking about the “Duke Nukem Forever 2013” mod for “Duke Nukem 3D”. So, let’s review it.

Woo hoo!

Woo hoo!

This mod is, as you might expect, based on the 2001 trailer for “Duke Nukem Forever”. This means that each of the four levels in the mod (a Las Vegas level, the EDF facility, a ghost town and the Hoover Dam) is based on a location in the trailer. Although this mod is fairly short, each of the levels is as challenging as any good “Duke Nukem 3D” level should be.

Yes, you will get stuck in several parts of “DNF 2013” and you’ll need to do a lot of exploration and searching in order to progress through the later parts of the mod. Yes, this is a mod for people who grew up playing real FPS games rather than “Call Of Duty” or whatever.

Although I’ve only had a couple of chances to play the 2011 version of “Duke Nukem Forever”, it seemed surprisingly easy for a “Duke Nukem” game. So, it was actually kind of refreshing to get hopelesly stuck a couple of times when I was playing “DNF 2013”.

Don't let the linear beginning of the first level fool you, this is OLD SCHOOL "Duke Nukem" :)

Don’t let the linear beginning of the first level fool you, this is OLD SCHOOL “Duke Nukem” 🙂

In addition to this, each of the four levels are absolutely huge and they are all beautifully designed, with lots of interesting areas and details. The most impressive level is probably the “Hoover Dam” level, for the simple reason that it actually contains a fairly good re-creation of the dam in question.

Now THAT's a dam fine level !

Now THAT’s a dam fine level !

In addition to this, there are a few cool new enemies (such as Terminators and mutant EDF guards) and a couple of the weapons have been reskinned too.

The chaingun is now a M16 assault rifle (with the American flag wrapped around it, no less!) with a reloading animation after every fifty shots and the shrink ray looks a bit more alien than it normally does. In addition to this, all of the items are now 3D voxel models rather than 2D sprites (kind of like the items in the original “Shadow Warrior” were).

But, one of the major changes in this mod is that it now features vehicle segments. Normally I’m extremely sceptical about vehicles in FPS games, but these driving segments work surprisingly well in “DNF 2013”. The motorbike segment in the Vegas level is fast-paced, fun and … well… just as badass as you would expect Duke Nukem riding a motorbike to be.

Booorn To Be Wiiild!!

Booorn To Be Wiiild!!

In additon to this, you also get to ride a donkey later in the game. Yes, you heard me correctly. A donkey.

Need I say more?

Need I say more?

One other thing I will say about this mod is that it sounds amazing. The music is loud, dramatic and it really adds a lot of atmosphere to the game. I’m guessing that some of the music was taken from the 2001 trailer and possibly from the 2011 version of “Duke Nukem Forever” too – and it works really well. In addition to this, almost all of the dialogue from the 2001 trailer is in the game too.

Whilst “DNF 2013” doesn’t quite have the same amount of humour as I’ve seen in what I’ve played of the 2011 version of “Duke Nukem Forever”, the creators of this mod have given Duke a few more lines of dialogue from other “Duke Nukem” games and these add some humour and variety to the game. My favourite line is probably when Duke starts singing part of the “Team America: World Police” theme in the Hoover Dam level.

Oh, be sure to download the three-level “DLC” pack on the ModDB page for this mod too. Although I’m not going to be looking at it in this review, it’s certainly worth playing just for the second level alone (it’s this amazingly badass motorbike-based level which has to be seen to be believed!)

All in all, “Duke Nukem Forever 2013” is an incredibly fun mod which gives us an interesting glimpse into what could have been. Yes, it’s fairly short and it could have possibly done with more dialogue and slightly more humour, but it’s still extremely fun, enjoyably challenging and one of the most visually spectacular “Build” engine games that I’ve ever seen.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.

Review: “Lameduke” [The Beta Version of “Duke Nukem 3D”] (Computer Game)

2013 Artwork Duke Nukem Beta Sketch

[Nerd Alert! This review requires a good knowledge of “Duke Nukem 3D”, “Duke Nukem II” and classic 1990s FPS games in order to be fully enjoyed, or even understood.]

Well, since I seem to be playing a lot of the old “Duke Nukem” games recently and I’m always absolutely fascinated by pre-release beta versions of games (since they always look fairly different to the final game), I thought that I’d “review” the pre-release beta of “Duke Nukem 3D”.

Since it’s an unfinished game and more of a demonstration of the game engine than anything else, I won’t really be “reviewing” it in the conventional sense of the word. This is more of an article about the differences between the beta and the final version of the game, as well as some of my speculations and theories about what could have been….

Anyway, there’s a beta version of Duke 3D called “Lameduke” and 3D Realms put it on the internet for anyone to download( It’s #9 on the list of downloads at the end of the “3D Realms” page, although you might need to use DOSBox to get it to run). It’s also surprisingly different to the final game which came out in 1996.

In fact, it’s almost like they were trying to make a different “Duke Nukem” game entirely, but more on that later….

Anyway, let’s start with the intro screen:

Unfortunately, Duke was behind the menu when I took this screenshot.

Unfortunately, Duke was behind the menu when I took this screenshot.

(Interestingly, the video behind the intro screen shows Duke flying around using a jetpack. Whilst this feature was obviously included in the final game, I couldn’t find it anywhere in what I played of the beta version. )

In many ways, it’s clear that a lot of features hadn’t yet been added to the game, since you have infinite health, no ammo counters (your weapons just randomly stop working after a certain number of shots) and some of the enemies/NPCs aren’t animated.

If you’re looking to play this beta for fun, then you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you’re looking at it out of geeky curiosity and 1990s nostalgia, then there’s lots of interesting stuff. Like this very early version of part of one of the levels from “Duke Nukem 3D” …

This looks familiar...

This looks familiar…

WEAPONS

One of the first differences you will notice between the beta and the final version of “Duke Nukem 3D” are the weapons. Although there are only five of them in the beta, most of them (apart from the pipebombs) are fairly different and, dare I say it, better than their counterparts in “Duke Nukem 3D”.

Anyway, let’s start with the default weapon – instead of a boring old boot, Duke gets a “Red Faction”-style electrified baton.

Interestingly, this is also about as gruesome as the beta gets. But more on that later..

Interestingly, this is also about as gruesome as the beta gets. But more on that later..

In many ways, this weapon functions a lot like the chainsaw from “Doom II”. This weapon also seems to have limited ammunition since, if you use it for long enough, then Duke will just start using it as a club rather than as an electric baton.

The basic pistol looks fairly similar, but it has a slightly faster rate of fire and, interestingly, it also includes a laser sight too.

It's the red dot in the middle of the screen.

It’s the red dot in the middle of the screen.

Yes, Duke’s pistol originally had a laser sight and 3D Realms decided to remove this cool feature from the final game. Why?

Although the rapid-fire weapon in the beta looks a lot like the chaingun from the final version of “Duke Nukem 3D”, it’s actually a rapid-fire energy weapon. The projectiles kind of look like a blue version of the shrink ray’s projectiles in the final version. Interestingly, Duke also has a barcode tattooed on his hand too:

This later became the chaingun. I think I actually slightly prefer the gun in the beta version....

This later became the chaingun. I think I actually slightly prefer the gun in the beta version….

Finally, we come to the rocket launcher. This looks a lot better than the final version of the weapon, since you can see more of it when Duke’s holding it and it has a really cool placeholder animation when you fire it (which makes it look a lot like a flamethrower).

But that’s not all, when you initially select the rocket launcher, Duke doesn’t aim it at anything until you press the “fire” button. He just holds it in the way that you would realistically expect someone to hold a gun that they’re not using…

Note the [rather blurry in this picture] radiation warning in the top right of the screen which appears when you step into environmental hazards.

Note the [rather blurry in this picture] radiation warning in the top right of the screen which appears when you step into environmental hazards.

Again, I’m completely puzzled as to why 3D Realms left this cool little detail out of the final game.

LEVELS

As for the levels, most of them are very different to the levels in the final game and it’s pretty clear that the game was originally going to have four episodes too. I’m guessing that the titles (“Mrr Caliber”, “Mission Cockroach”, “Suck Hole” and “Hard Landing”) were placeholder titles. Or at least I hope that they were.

The bizarre episode titles.

The bizarre episode titles.

There are also a few interesting features which weren’t implemented in the final game – for example, the lifts in E1M6 (probably the best level in the beta) come up with a (non-functional) directional menu when you enter them.

Interestingly, this wasn’t included in the final game (probably due to the limitations of the Build engine) and the concept of lifts where you can choose the direction seems more like something from a traditional 2D platform game than an old FPS game…

The direction option when you enter the lifts in E1M6.

The direction option when you enter the lifts in E1M6.

Another amusing thing in E1M6 is the fact that the developers managed to find a way to sneak some posters from “True Lies” into the level too. Yes, Duke is basically just an exaggerated fictional version of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I was surprised to see such a blatant reference to this:

Duke's inspiration?

Duke’s inspiration?

Whilst quite a few of the levels look like something from “Duke Nukem 3D” or “Doom”, a fair number of them have a very “classic sci-fi” kind of feel to them, which is more similar to “Duke Nukem II” than anything else (can you see where I’m going here?….).

This, coincidentally, brings me on to the…..

ENEMIES

All of the enemies in the beta are different from the enemies from the final game. Whilst there are a few mostly non-animated human NPCs (a muscular man in a vest, a man in an orange shirt and a punk woman), all of the animated enemies are robots of some kind or another. And, believe it or not, they look random enough to be a collection of enemies from one of the really old 2D “Duke Nukem” games…

"Ha! Ha! You will NEVER defeat me! Wait a minute... YOU aren't one of the Power Rangers!"

“Ha! Ha! You will NEVER defeat me! Wait a minute… YOU aren’t one of the Power Rangers!”

Bizarrely, one type of robot (although it could be an astronaut, it’s hard to tell) actually bleeds when you kill it. However, this isn’t the ludicrous gibs and blood spatter which we all know and love from the final game. If anything, it’s more like the relatively tame death animations from “Doom” and “Hexen”.

Yes, the beta is a lot less violent than the final version – to the point where it could almost be a possible German version of the final game (although the blood would probably have to be green or something like that too).

MY THEORY ABOUT THE BETA

Anyway, this got me thinking about the game as a whole. For starters, a lot of the settings are sci-fi based and most of the enemies are various types of random robots.

If anything, this beta seems like it was at least partly based on “Duke Nukem II”. The fact that one of the weapons is a laser/pulse gun and the rocket launcher acts like a flamethrower also seem to add extra weight to this, admittedly very unlikely, theory.

So, I guess that my wish to see a FPS version of “Duke Nukem II” has been at least been partially granted by none other than 3D Realms. How cool is that?

Anyway, since it’s an unfinished beta version of a game, I won’t be giving it a score out of five. So, this is the end of this review – or is it?

duke beta ending