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Devolver Digital
3DRealms, Abstraction Games
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Release Date:
January 6, 2015

We’re all trying to forget the travesty that was Duke Nukem Forever and to assist in our recovery, Devolver Digital and Abstraction Games brings the previously released Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition to PlayStation 3 and Vita. It’s basically a port of the 2008 game that launched on the Xbox Live network; it boasts the same cool rewind time feature, online-cop and leaderboards. It only goes for $9.99 and for those looking to take a bloody, highly pixilated trip down memory lane, it’s probably not a bad buy. But for some reason, despite it’s immense old-school charm, it’s not as stable as it should be.

The old-fashioned graphics are here in abundance, throughout the game and all the extra episodes this particular version includes. Yep, this was the way first-person shooters always used to look; i.e., grainy and completely unrefined. I hear the Vita iteration has received a spruced-up visual presentation but as I’ve never played the Megaton Edition before, I can’t do a compare-and-contrast. I can say, however, that the graphics don’t withstand the test of time. Such a visual display will put a nostalgic smile on the faces of the oldsters out there but otherwise, younger gamers will probably laugh. Well, let ‘em. It’s still cool.

The audio isn’t anything special but the action does sound decent on the Vita. Over the past few years, I’ve been quite impressed with the audio in various Vita productions and although Duke Nukem ’s effects and soundtrack are obviously outdated, Sony’s handheld does a good job. Of course, given the era in question, the balancing is more than questionable and sometimes it’s hard to understand the words. That’s the way things go, though. Duke saying “shake it, baby” was always comical; we were still a long way from crystal clear effects, professional voice performances, and gorgeous music compositions. Just accept it for what it is.

First and foremost, the controls map well to the Vita, thanks in large part to the dual analog sticks. I really don’t like changing weapons on the touchscreen but it works all right and you’ll soon get into the swing of things. The aiming is a tad finicky but thankfully, we get an auto-aim feature that is a great help. It feels wrong, somehow, to use such a function when playing an old-school shooter, but it really does help. Those not used to the archaic style will miss commonly accepted modern-day features like iron sights, reloading and recoil, but again, just accept the reality of the olden days. Draw distance is actually pretty good, despite the rampant pixilation.

Now, one thing to remember when embarking on these classic quests: There was a time in this industry when most games were hard. In same cases, they were really hard. I’m not sure if early Duke Nukem games qualified as the hardest of the hard but either way, they’re still a good deal more difficult than most titles you’ll play today. Shooters vary widely in terms of difficulty and accessibility these days, but I can’t think of one that will really push an avid gamer’s skills to the limit. In the Megaton Edition , you’ll die plenty, and there may be times when frustration gets the best of you. It doesn’t help that old-fashioned game design could be really infuriating; there’s a big difference between hand-holding and giving you zero assistance whatsoever.