Monday, June 20, 2011

VGR Duke Nuclear Winter

While you guys wait for my own review of Duke Nukem Forever, which I haven't finished yet and want to explore in detail in a future review properly, here's another Duke Nukem 3D expansion!

This one is the last of the proper new episodes released for the game as add-ons.
Other add-ons were released (officially or not) but those were just map packs. (like Duke Xtreme to name one)
VGR: Duke: Nuclear Winter
From Apogee Software/3D Realms/Simply Silly Software/WizardWorks
Played on PC 
Also available on /

Type FPS/Expansion
Year 1997

Nuclear Winter was the only expansion made by Simply Silly Software for Duke 3D.

Though such name for a game studio wouldn't inspire me much confidence, if they got officially selected by 3D Realms and released on disc means it is at least playable unlike some unofficial non-licensed expansions.

Released for Christmas '97, it was an appropriate Christmas-themed brand new episode featuring new enemies, new settings and more!

Oh man... Those aliens f*ckers are back and annoying the hell out me!

The pitch:
Santa Claus has been captured! So we are told in a little CGi animated sequence at the start.
Those aliens bastards from Duke 3D are back with a vengeance.
They captured the old man and brainwashed him so he will help 'em conquer the world through an elaborate scheme.
And they've made a deal with Santa's lil' helpers who have formed an anti-Duke force, the Feminist Elven Militia.

Duke will have to travel from L.A. to the North Pole in order to put a stop to this Evil Santa and the alien invasion, once and for all! Again!

It's cold. It's freezing. And friggin' civilians are annoying the hell out of Duke, singing in the streets...

The game offers a whole new episode to explore.
It plays and looks as the original Duke 3D was, though it does require the Atomic updated edition to run smoothly and propose some of its nice implementations. (such as snow on screen, etc..)

The weapons are all the same, no custom modifications as it was the case in the awesome Caribbean themed add-on.

You'll visit plenty snow themed locations, including the 2 first levels straight from the original Duke 3D (Episode 1), only played in reverse from end to start, until Duke gets to the roof where it all began, catch his helicopter back to the North Pole.
You'll explore Santa's headquarters, a Christmas themed village, a toy factory, etc..
It's kinda funny to see Duke battling aliens in such out of ordinary places. (which changes the mood from the past Los Angeles or Washington for example)

There isn't new weapons, but hopefully there's brand new enemies, like evil Snowmen, throwing snow at you and freezing Duke, variations of the Snowman on vehicles, the Elf gals using dual guns..
Also there's mutated Santa Clauses Pigs instead of the usual PigCops (but serving the same purpose and behave the same), the aliens are back wearing Xmas hats, etc..

 Hail to the Noel, biatch!

It's not a particularly long episode, I found myself surprised to finish it so fast and easily.
There's also a serious lack of secrets. Apart from both returning level's own original secrets (and some minor tweaking around), the new levels have usually 1 to 3 secrets.
Only 7 levels and no secret hidden level this time.

"Santa Claws" is the final boss of the episode. Unlike previous Duke bosses, he isn't a gigantic monster but a human-sized foe who acts like the Duke, meaning he can use a jetpack, has access to most of Duke's arsenal, can take "steroids" to pump himself, etc..
It's quite different and harder than usual regular Duke bosses.

The game is filled with new appropriate Xmas music.
It gets a bit repetitive after a while, but is funny to hear in the background while playing Duke nonetheless.

No actual proper pop culture reference..though Mario (!) playing Mario Kart does make a completely random appearance and you'll even partially visit Doom's first level in that same chapter!

Overall, it was...okay.

The game originally received mostly a negative response from the fans, unlike both previous Sunstorm Interactive developed expansions.

There's a serious lack of new weapons or new Duke quotes (which would have been great in this setting), but so was the case for the much more appreciated Duke it out in DC.

Some also critized the reuse of the previous levels Red Light District & Hollywood Holocaust from Duke Nukem 3D... And it's a legit critic. I mean it looks cheap to simply have those old levels back, and back then paying for a brand new game..and ending up with 2 reassessed levels seems like a pretty cheap move on the part of the developers.
But playing those today, I guess I find this a bit funnier than "back then".
It's fun to have Duke go through those well-known environments under new circumstances.

All in all, it's playable, decent, fun. But I'd take Duke Caribbean over this anyway.
Try it!
For fans who want more Duke Nukem maps to go through!

I give it:
 2 / 3 Invaders!

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