Under the Microscope: Duke Nukem 3D

posted in: Games, Reviews | 0

Duke Nukem 2A game that very nearly saw a commercial release for RISC OS back in the later 90s/ early 00s is Duke Nukem 3D, originally developed by 3D Realms and published by GT Interactive Software. This first-person shooter gained massive popularity at the time of its PC release in 1996.

Ported to RISC OS and released to the public in 2012 by Chris Gransden, the game engine EDuke32 allows for any Duke Nukem 3D game files (including the official game as well shareware demo versions) to be run.

It’s worth noting that this RISC OS port of EDuke32 is considered ‘test’ quality, but the stability has been pretty good for me running RISC OS 4.02 on Virtual RPC-SA.

Setup-wise, Duke Nukem 3D was pretty easy to get up and running. It’s not an out of the box solution, the game files need to be sourced for licensing reasons. I downloaded the demo game files from here but you can purchase the game legally from a number of online stores, all you need to do is drop the game file into the !EDuke32 folder for it to be picked up.

I haven’t tested it myself, but the game should be compatible with modern RISC OS systems like the ARMX6, PandaRO, Raspberry Pi etc. It required a minimum of just under 25MB RAM free to run, which might be too much for legacy systems but it ran perfectly on Virtual Acorn for me, performance was good, FPS was just as it should be and the application proved to be stable throughout the few hours I’d been playing it.

Now if we have a quick look at the game engine, which is also available for Windows, Linux, OS X, FreeBSD and several other platforms.

One of the immediately good points with opting for playing Duke Nukem 3D natively through this engine rather than using DOSBox to play the original is full HD resolutions, Eduke32 employs its own rendering system named Polymer which makes graphical improvements to the game as you play along – improvements include better perspective corrections, filtering, hardware lights etc.

Sound has also been improved and can be played at a 44100Hz rate, and number of voices set to a total of 96.

Multiplayer modes such as deathmatch and cooperative play are included and can be set up on a LAN or played online, although managing to find an active server is another problem entirely. Available Eduke32 online servers can be checked online however.

As far as the game itself goes, it’s a title that takes a lot of first-person shooter fundementals that were put forth by games like Doom and Quake and injects a healthy dose of steroids into it. The first thing that is immediately noticable when playing through the game for the first time is the firepower, the range is extensive, it’s explosive and immensely destructive.

The standard pistols, shotguns, machine guns and rocket launchers that you come to expect with these type of games are all there, but there are also pipe bombs that you can trigger from a distance and trip bombs that you can use to set traps. A personal favourite is the Shrinker – which allows you to shrink aliens down to a hilarious size. Another goodie is the Freezer, which completely solidifies enemies allowing you to shatter them.

There’s not a whole lot to the game’s storyline. There’s a brief text prelude located under “Help” in the Main Menu, and a few cutscenes after the completion of an episode. The game picks up right after the events of Duke Nukem II, with Duke returning to Earth in his space cruiser. As Duke descends on Los Angeles in hopes of taking a vacation, his ship is shot down by unknown hostiles. While sending a distress signal, Duke learns that aliens are attacking Los Angeles and have mutated the LAPD. With his vacation plans now ruined, Duke hits the “eject” button, and vows to do whatever it takes to stop the alien invasion.

Duke Nukem 3

A funny thing with Duke Nukem is the developers clearly didn’t worry about making the title too violent in fear of a media uproar from the Daily Mail types, instead they just piled on the violence, blood and gore and aliens coughing blood all over the place.

The developers also didn’t worry about the way they portrayed certain genders too. Everywhere you go in Duke Nukem there are scantily clad women. Posters for adult movies and sex shows line the walls, seedy magazines lie around on tables and couches. You can even go up to women and get what is named in-game as ‘a sneek peak’.

Moving on slightly, Duke Nukem does really well with its backgrounds, they’re always full of colour, are rarely dull and they’re always nice to look at. The game settings are very well rendered for the technology available at the time.

A neat feature of the game is Duke’s ability to explore under water and fly through the air with a jet pack. They don’t add much to the game’s overall storyline but they add a good bit of fun into the mix.

Overall, EDuke32 takes an excellent game and adds updated graphics and sound without changing the original gameplay, so if you haven’t played Duke Nukem 3D in god knows how many years or if you’ve never had a dabble with it, it’s well worth a go.

You can download it entirely free of charge from here, game files have to be sourced seperately, the shareware demo is available free on the Internet and a full copy of the game can be purchased for about £4. All you need to do is obtain the game file and drop it into the required folder, there’s instructions in the game’s !ReadMe file to guide you through it step-by-step.

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