Review by Elbryan42

Reviewed: 08/15/05

Duke Nukem 3D for the Saturn - Is it really THAT good?

I'm guilty. I bought a Saturn for many reasons, for many games that are very oustanding. Dracula X, Radiant Silvergun, Marvel vs Capcom, and more. But I have a confession to make. I bought a Saturn mainly to play the three Labotomy games that everyone talks about. The only Lobotomy games for the Saturn. I read and heard that Powerslave (Exhumed), Duke Nukem 3D, and Quake were exceptional. It's just plain not true. The glaringly painful one is Duke Nukem 3D, which is the subject of this review. I heard from many sources that it surpasses both the N64 and PSX versions. I was very excited. I wound up being sorely disappointed. I'll start with the good first, but then I'll explain why you should steer clear of this version, or at the very least, don't get a Saturn mainly for this game.

The Good

The graphics. Wow. High resolution. The clearest and most outstanding graphics of all console Duke 3D ports. It looks so close to the PC's VESA display modes. It also has the wonderful dynamic light sourcing for projectiles from Powerslave. Amazing. The framerate NEVER drops. The game is so fluid your Saturn starts dripping. Too bad so much of the original game had to be sacrificed for these graphics. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The other good aspects of this game are awesome Redbook audio remixes of the PC Duke's midis. The weapon changing is also very fast, like Powerslave.

Duke Nukem 3D - A Total Conversion for Powerslave

Now we start with the bad. Powerslave is a great game. But besides the whole handling 3D better thing, the engine is inferior to the Build engine, which Duke Nukem 3D is based off of. The engine runs slower (but smoother), about 80% of the speed of other ports. So it's like you're playing Duke Nukem 3D in slow motion. Your pistol firing, you running, the enemies' death animation, and more. The engine's adequate for basic enviornments and such, but not for much else.

The Levels - OUCH!

So much was cut from the levels. There's about half the secret areas, more detailed enviornments are incredibly simplified, some levels are cut in half, and complete levels are missing! The levels Tier Drops, Freeway, Spin Cycle, and Lunatic Fringe are gone. The levels just lost their flair along the way. The chapel in the prison is barely noticable, a large chunk of Hotel Hell is gone, the Abyss isn't even overwhelming anymore. No wonder why the game is so fluid, with such simple enviornments. These levels are what you'd see if the Levellord didn't make Duke 3D, but instead amateur mappers took upon the task. Don't even get me started on the exclusive level, Urea 51. The level is absolutely horrid, with barely any enemies, with terrible thrash metal as the theme song. You just get carried along on a crane through a sea of toilets. Ugh.

Scripting? What's that?

Yeah, Duke Nukem 3D without scripting is, well, just not Duke. Everything that would require more than your basic level editing is gone. Not even rotating sectors (like the gears in the prison), or swinging doors. There's just ONE type of door in the game. The water and conveyors move very slow, the rocket doesn't blow up in the Launch Facility, most puzzles are gone, cool platform puzzles are replaced with "flip switch, cause square platform to raise". This is lifeless Duke Nukem 3D. You can't even go to the bathroom in this one, or invert the cross in the chapel. There's no earthquakes, no morphing environments, no subways or transports, most of the traps are missing, and... well, you get the point.

The Ugly

So you say, "It can't be that bad." There's more. There's no ducking. They've gotten rid of ducking in other console ports of FPS games and for the most part it's been done well. Until this game. In place of a duck button, the game decides to duck for you. Thankfully, it ducks when it's supposed to, like for ducting and such. But the problem is it ducks when it's NOT supposed to as well. You'll be moving along and get close to a wall. Guess what? You duck. In the middle of a firefight, in the middle of a room. You duck. This really gets annoying.

There's so much missing. Not just the scripting and much simpler environments, but most of Duke's sayings are gone, there's a mere 12 music tracks in the game. Not only that, but they're awefully short, and their choices of tracks to port over are atrocious. The worst of the bunch is the Mission Impossible themed song, which went along with the PC only level, "It's Impossible" but in Saturn Duke, it's very out of place. Not to mention, I expected better remixes, listening to the PSX version's music for years.

Then there's the controls. You can cheat to get a Turok-style control setup, but that requires a 3D Controller, which not everyone has. It's not bad. You've seen this setup in many incarnations before. Look with the stick, move with the face buttons. You fire, use, use item, item change, and weapon change with everything else. Still no duck. For the normal setup (with a normal Saturn controller), you have to pause to change or use items, or use the automap. I was quite disappointed. I was expecting a shift button or something. It's basically Powerslave's button setup with a pause menu for your items. Not as great as it could've been.


On the box it says 28 levels. One of those levels is Urea 51, and a few more of those are the second half of some of the levels. So this version has less levels than any other version.

Is this the best version? Hardly. Maybe if graphics and framerate is everything to you. If you consider sacrificing everything that makes Duke Nukem 3D the game it is at heart for framerate, be my guest. This is a lifeless, simpler, boring, slower version of Duke Nukem 3D with pretty graphics and a smooth framerate.

I'll stick to the PSX or N64 versions. They both have more to the game itself, and though the PSX is nowhere as good looking, at least it's more playable with a lot more content. Put it this way. If they took this much out of the PSX version, it would look as good. I'm glad they didn't.

Don't give in to the hype! Only get this game if you're a diehard fan, or only care about graphics.

Rating 4/10

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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