Duke Nukem

duke nukem

Format- Gameboy Color

Genre- 2D platformer/shooter

Your average Duke enthusiast undoubtedly knows that the blonde haired alien killing machine started his trade in 2D platformers on the PC. They were solid titles, but were pretty much forgotten when Duke Nukem 3D arrived on the scene.

It didn’t signal the end of Duke’s side on escapades though. Duke Nukem on GBC may have been released three years after the 3D Duke, but it admirably still went about reviving much of the ideas and enemies from its 2D ancestors.

duke nukem

Not many seemed to care though, and Duke’s first outing on a Nintendo portable pretty much disappeared without trace, consigned to a mere footnote in history.

I think that’s a shame, as this is an enjoyable enough outing for Mr Nukem. And considering most of the trademark gore, babes and swears of the series are absent here, that’s no mean feat.

The graphics are colorful and pleasingly chunky, with Duke particularly well animated. He’s agile too – able to grab ledges, duck and shoot from ladders, little frustration arises from the controls.

duke nukem

Alas, what the game gives it in equal measure takes away. Controls may be solid but avoiding your enemies’ range of attacks is still tough, and you’ll find yourself taking a lot of unavoidable damage throughout the game.

Health packs are plentiful though, meaning most players should be able to make it to the end of the game just by remaining persistent. Skill isn’t a necessary requirement here.

Incentive to progress is helped by side missions (such as a satisfyingly destructive tank level) and the cut-scenes – which have a nice relaxed humor about them.

For Duke completists then, I think this is a must have. Unfortunately the game is somewhat scarce, but copies thankfully aren’t too expensive when they do turn up. If I may paraphrase the great man  – ‘go get some.’

Duke Nukem 3D

“Who wants some?”
These words always bring back awesome gaming memories of this installment of the magisterrex Game of the Week: 3D Realms’ 1996 PC games classic, Duke Nukem 3D.  Many hours were spent blasting away aliens, looking for all the secret rooms, and seeing how much of the environment could be manipulated.  And all the while Duke Nukem ripped off one-liner after one-liner, just like a good action picture from the 80′s.

Duke Nukem 3D - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Duke Nukem 3D 1996 Release

“Damn, those alien bastards are gonna pay for shooting up my ride!”
The story was pretty straightforward.  Aliens had taken over Los Angeles, and had genetically mutated a bunch of mankind (including all L.A.P.D.’s officers, turning them all into Pigs).  This was bad enough, but when they shot down Duke’s shuttle, it was time to make them pay, and Duke spends the rest of the game wiping out the alien menace.

Duke Nukem 3D - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition

“It’s time to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of gum.”
Players could look up and down, change altitude with a jet pack, get shrunk by a shrinkray, go anywhere they wanted.  There were levels in bars, levels where you had to go underwater, levels where you had to fight in the dark.  This game was the total package.  But it wasn’t for the kiddies, though, with plenty of cussing, a constant array of strippers, partial pixelated nudity, and lots of gooey bits left over when Duke’s enemies got zapped.

Duke Nukem 3D - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

The Kill A Ton Collection

“I ain’t afraid of no quake!”
Part of the fun is finding all the hidden references to other games or movies.  Some of the characters (well, their dead bodies, at least) or items you find are:  The Terminator, Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, The Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Doom guy, a video of the OJ Simpson car chase, and the alien mothership from Independence Day.  These are the kind of small touches that make a good game a great game.

Duke Nukem 3D - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

The T-800 looking a little flat in Duke Nukem

“Shake it, baby.”
To the no one’s surprise, it turned out that throwing cash at strippers and blowing away partially nude women can get your game put on the kind of lists that prevent Wal-Mart from displaying it on their shelves.  3D Realms found Duke Nukem 3D banned by Brazilian authorities, required to release a parental locked version to access the Australian market, and even placed outright on the “List of Media Harmful to Young People” in Germany.  Back in 1996, this game was mired in controversy!

Duke Nukem 3D - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

A pixelicious Duke Nukem 3D stripper.

“Hail to the King, baby!”
Duke Nukem sold over 300,000 copies in its first week of release.  It went on to spawn several re-releases, like the Atomic Edition, East Meets West, and 3rd party level compilations and other mods, like Duke!Zone and Nuclear Winter.  In the end the sales of Duke Nukem 3D were in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and made Duke Nukem easily one of the most recognizable franchises and characters in the gaming world.

Duke Nukem 3D - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

East Meets West Pack

“What are you waiting for? Christmas?”
If you never played Duke Nukem 3D, go on and pick this game up.  It’s still a lot of fun, even after all these years – as the best games always are!  And don’t forget to download the high-resolution pack, which transforms this classic into a 32-bit juggernaut of retro gaming goodness!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBrvyM4JZ4Q[/youtube]

Rise of the Triad

Rise of the Triad box
Rise of the Triad box

Rise of the Triad

When I built my 486 with the help of my cousin (he did 99% of it) there were three games he told me to install right away one of them was Rise of the Triad. I had already played Doom and Wolfenstein so when I got my hands on ROTT I was hooked.

ROTT came out in 1995 and was developed by 3D Realms, the story initially was going to be a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, you can pretty much tell this by the way the game plays and looks. It does have a Wolfenstein feel to be sure which is why so many people liked it.

Like Wolfenstein, ROTT was pretty much killing hordes of enemies and collecting keys to advance, but it was the little things that made the game fun for me. Some of the cools things about ROTT were the fact that you could pick a specific character from the start which had little differences like one would move slowly, but have a lot of health and another would be quick, but squishy.

ROTT had various weapons as well including pistols, machine guns, missile launchers and magic weapons. Of course one of the coolest things was blasting an enemy into chunks and watching eyeballs fly everywhere, now that’s gaming!

Rise of the Triad screenshot
Rise of the Triad screenshot

Another cool addition was the several power-ups in the game such as God Mode, which would make you invincible and Mercury Mode that allowed you to fly. There was also the Dog Mode  that yes, turned you into a dog and my favorite, Shrooms Mode which involved flashing lights and a spinning screen.

The environment was also different than games before it. You had push-able walls and a ton of stuff could be destroyed like plants and sometimes destroying them opened a secret passage and sometimes it was just for relieving stress.

Rise of the Triad screenshot
Rise of the Triad screenshot

There were also a ton of traps all over the place like spin-blades which would quickly lower your health and flame-jets to set your night on fire. What was cool was the enemies were susceptible to the traps as well so you could lead them into them.

One of the coolest things was the use of jump pads. They were devices on the ground that would propel you into the air when you stepped on them. You could just stand on them to fly up into the air or you ran and jumped on them to catapult you diagonally. This was necessary later on to get to many places in the game.

Rise of the Triad screenshot
Rise of the Triad screenshot

In Rise of the triad you played a member of the team known as the H.U.N.T. (High-risk United Nations Task-force). Your mission was on the island of San Nicolas to investigate cult activity at an ancient monastery. After your boat is destroyed you have to fight your way to the monastery and stop the cults plot to destroy Los Angeles.

The game was not easy, even though you had access to guns and missiles and flamethrowers so did the enemies and they loved to use them. The bosses were no joke either; you had to learn about each ones ability and sometimes the most powerful weapon in your arsenal was not the one to use against a boss.

Finally there was multiplayer which wasn’t anything special, but it was fun using the special weapons and power-ups in multiplayer mode. It wasn’t just Deathmatch, you could also play a capture the flag mode and a tag mode.

Rise of the Traid is one of those games you had to play if you were a true FPS gamer. It had the look, the gameplay and the violence that every growing gamer needs. If you haven’t played it before or just wish to reminisce you can pick up a copy from GOG.com. *The GOG.com version comes with a 30-page manual, game soundtrack and the bonus game levels.

Max Payne

Max Payne is coming
Max Payne is coming

Max Payne review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“One of the grandfathers of pulp fiction revenge shooters.”

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

Overview:

When I think of Max Payne 1, I think of the following words: revenge, murder, cliches, bullets, lots of guns, hookers, blow jobs, the ice storm, drugs, junkies, sleaze, New York, porn, conspiracies, evil corporations, bullet time, explosions, pulp fiction, comics, black mail, nothing to lose.

You take the role of Max Payne, a New York detective who has the American Dream, an attractive wife that loves him, a small baby, living in your suburb home. As soon as the game starts these Valkyr (a new drug, sort of like Nuke in Robocop 2) junkies brake into your house and murder both your child and soul mate. After killing them, you sob over their corpses like a helpless child. Soon after that, you transfer into vice work, working deep undercover infiltrating the mafia to get to the source of the drug Valkyr. You have been working doing that for a few years but when you are finally getting some good leads, they kill your partner, the only real person who knows exactly what you were up to and you are framed with his murder. The cops are after you, the mob, and more as you go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole in a conspiracy that has permanently made you a marked man. You’re Max Payne, you’d had nothing to lose for years now. Time to kill everybody who gets in your way of revenge and your pursuit of the truth. This is what this game is all about. It’s about not giving a fuck and going forward with a gun to the back of your head.

The game has intense action with cut scenes mainly in the form of a pulp fiction styled comic that is brilliant, which reminds me a lot of the darkest Heavy Metal comics. They made a movie for this game, which is a piece of shit. They should have just shot the comics with a few action sequences in between, in the style of the game, and they could have had something that could have rivaled Sin City. Back to the game…

This is an intense 3rd person shooter and it introduced the concept of bullet time into games, taken from the first Matrix movie, which was popular at the time. The game feels like a very gritty Jon Woo film mixed with some aspects from other games such as Sanitarium (the dream sequences are creepy as hell, with Max Payne haunted by the spirits of his dead woman and child). Regarding the dream sequences, you will never forget the blood trail of your child as you run down a haunted corridor, trying to get to your family to save them in time. Too little, too late.

The combat system consists of walking/running/jumping around in 3rd person mode. You heal by taking pain killers (Max Payne gets hurt a lot, get it?) to take the pain away/regenerate flesh. Just pretend that they’re stimpaks from Fallout.

Max Payne was/is a wonderful gaming experience and everybody should at least play it through at least once. The game is art.

Max Payne is available for PC, Xbox, PS2, Mac, and Gameboy Advanced.

Fun Factor:

If you enjoy stuff blowing up and seeing people get shot and fall down using ragdoll physics, then you need to load up Max Payne and empty out some dual ingrams on a squad of goons. The tension of the atmosphere in the game mixed with the comic styled cut scenes, the drama of revenge, the brutal ice storm mixed with everybody out to kill you makes the action adrenaline pumping and that’s a big plus for Fun Factor. Fun Factor gets a 10 out of 10, even with the age of the game.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is ROUGH. It’s from a time when games were not catered to the masses and you had to be good if you wanted to play a challenging game.

You can only play it on the basic difficulty unless you beat the game already and had that installation on this computer when you are replaying it (or you’re just a masochist). Even to a veteran gamer, you will find yourself quick saving and quick loading OFTEN. The damage you take, even at the basic difficulty, is roughly scaled to the amount that you inflict on enemies and most of the time you’re fighting more than one enemy, so you either need to be a quick gun or rely on bullet time to take them out tactically, but it doesn’t always helps as it won’t stop them from shooting you.

If you want to be a sick puppy, you can always opt out to not ever use bullet time and then the game gets as hard as Mafia (a similar game, except with no bullet time and a harder damage engine). I have beaten the game through like this, although it is very hard.

My recommendation is to keep an alternating save game using two slots and save there manually at the beginning of the level and then quick save/load the rest of the way through until you get to the next level.

Since the game is punishing, but in a good way, but it does not let you pick the most ridiculous difficulties from the start, Max Payne gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Through Steam you can pick up both Max Payne 1 and 2 for 15 bucks when it’s not on sale and sometimes around 7 dollars when they are. On www.gogamer.com, you can get the console versions ranging from 8-14 dollars. You can pick up the console versions for about 5 dollars on www.ebgames.com. Considering the game will last you a good 8-16 hours the first time you play it or more and how fun it is, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10. This game needs to be in your video game library.

Replayability:

I’ve played Max Payne 1 over 9 times through the years. The comic cut scenes have cliched pulp fiction dialogue but I love it all. I feel Max’s sorrow as he loses his family and becomes a man with nothing to lose. The more you get into the game, the more you feel how he’s becoming a lose cannon. I know every part in this game but because it’s really well made and challenging, I visit this game yearly, as well as part 2. Since part 3 will come out this year, it’s now a great time to replay this game or play it again for the first time and follow it up with part 2 immediately, if possible. Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The voice acting and sound effects for the game are amazing! It will immerse you into the character and you will feel the sleaze of the dark corners of New York throughout most of the game. All the voice actors sounds like professionals. Even the Russian you meet in game sounds pretty authentic.

There are a few parts where sounds will cut off another sound effect which I think is a limitation of sound cards at the time this game was released or simply a limitation of the sound engine/algorhythms the game uses. Sound itself is brilliant but because of that glitch, Sound gets a 9 out of 10.

Music:

The soundtrack to the game is perfect. It varies from the deeply sad main theme to the rock/techno from the heavy battle sequences.

The main theme is both dramatic, orchestral, and a rock ballad. Every time I hear the main song, I automatically remember everything that happened in the game. It’s that good.

The music adds a lot to the atmosphere in this game and it’s well implemented, with moments of silence to build up the tension and moments where the music is well timed like a well done action movie. Music gets a 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics are now dated, using an older version of DirectX but for it’s time the graphics were astonishing. I remember this games as being one of the first ones that implemented anti-aliasing successfully. The fire and explosions in particular look the greatest. Some scenes in the game will reminds you a lot of New York and some levels in the game will remind you of Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard and also the building battle from the Matrix part 1. Graphics get a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall, the game almost never crashes or gets stuck loading. The only problems I found were when doing alt-tab and only when running multiple programs in the background, that the game thread got stuck in oblivion/infinity. Basically, don’t alt-tab much if you’re going to play this game, as it’s an action game anyways and you ruin the flow. The physics engine itself might not be the best but it doesn’t detract from the game too much. Overall, Stability/Reliability is a 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are well picked for the game, both the PC and console versions. For PC, you move around with WASD, E uses, shift triggers bullet time + jump to cover, space jumps, left mouse button fires, R reloads, right mouse also bullet times. Controls being not too complicated are the key and you will enjoy that combined with the fast action and the different implementations of using the best gun for whatever the situation is. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

When this game came out it was a machine killer. Most could run it but when you saw it running on max settings on a faster machine, it put yours to shame. Since it’s been going to be nearly a decade since the game came out, any gaming machine these days will run the game like a dream on the max settings. As a result of that Performance gets a 10 out of 10 in the modern scope, probably a 7 out of 10 if you time travel and play it back in 2001.

My history with this game:

This game is a classic. I remember seeing the screenshots in the late 90s and being completely blown away. Not only of the graphics but the story and also the comic cut scenes. You can tell that they put in the time to make the best game possible and it was worth waiting years for it to come out.

When I first played this game I had recently seen Boondock Saints and I was in the mood for murdering a bunch of criminal scumbags. The action sort of reminds me also of Dirty Harry, the Death Wish movies, and Heat/Ronin.

The gun battles are all epic and the game itself is hard, which is my cup of tea. It always keeps me interested even though I know every part of the game already.

I need part 3 to come out ASAP, so we can continue to live Max Payne’s journey to redemption.