Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Video game number one hundred and seventy six: Duke Nukem Manhattan

Video game review number one hundred and seventy six in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Duke Nukem: Manhattan ".

If someone walked up to me in 1996 and told me that they'd finally made a new Duke Nukem game and that it had been turned into a side-scroller, I'd probably say: "Duke Nukem Forever is a side scroller? Awesome!" Of course, it's 2010 now and 14 years have passed. New Duke Nukem games just aren't groundbreaking anymore. I wanted to give this one a try, for old time's sake, but that was about it.

Duke is certainly back with all of his catchy one-liners. Unfortunately, somewhere in the decade or so since I've played a Duke Nukem game, they've apparently misplaced the fun.

The graphics are passable I suppose, but the controls in this one remind me of a NES game. You can run left or right, and that's it. You can jump, but if an enemy happens to be standing in your way, you will sometimes bounce off of them. You can shoot, but only left or right or up. There's no targeting to speak of, you just shoot in a straight line and hope the enemy happens to be standing in the path of the bullet. The game plays a lot like Contra did 20 years ago....but it's not as fun.

So what's wrong with it?

For starters...the maps are confusing as hell. There's no clear goal, you just sort of run until you find the right door to walk through. There's no legend, or radar, or even a stated objective. You can move the camera left or right to see parts of the level that might be obscured (handy for times when you come to a ledge and have no idea if that's a cliff you should jump off of or not)...but that's about the only help you have. You're pretty much exploring all the time, looking for a key to a door, or maybe a crack in a wall that you can blow up with a pipe bomb. In the first two levels, twice...I found myself stuck in an empty world where I'd already killed all the enemies, but couldn't exit from.


Finally, I exited the second level (with a little help from a youtube walkthrough), and got to fight a helicopter. Again...I was reminded of old school NES games as I hung from a ladder and tried to shoot the helicopter down while it fired it's turret at me. If the game gave me any ability to target my weapons, this might have been a fun battle, but you can only shoot left, right or straight up. Ultimately, I killed it with pipe bombs instead of my gun. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the "right" way to do it, but it worked for me.

Overall Score: 4/10. This game is a disappointment all the way around. The only reason you should play it is if you REALLY love the Duke Nukem character. If that's the case, you'll be reunited with him once again, and maybe you'll be happy. If you're only a casual fan (or you don't care much about him at all)...stay the hell away from this game. It sucks.

Achievements: I got these. I don't anticipate getting any more.

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