Sunday, May 5, 2013

VGR Duke Nukem Manhattan Project

You thought me finished with the Duke Nukem franchise? Why, I have merely been playing through Manhattan Project for quite some time now.

And unlike a certain "Forever", it is quite a long title and the only modern worthy successor to the Duke Nukem series. At least, more so than what Duke Nukem Forver turned out to be...

Don't miss out my previous Duke Nukem-related reviews!

VGR: Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project
From Sunstorm Interactive/ARUSH Entertainment/3D Realms
Played on PC
Also available on Xbox 360

Type Run & Gun Sidescroller
Year 2002

He's BACK. Did you miss him?!

While Duke Nukem Forever turned out to be finally released for the 20th Anniversary of Duke, long before it there was another game that got to celebrate the classic cult over-the-top action hero.

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project.

Speaking of which, the original DNF started development as a sidescroller in 1997. But that was quickly scrapped and reworked to become a Duke Nukem 3D FPS sequel instead.

Manhattan Project shares this same initial idea. To return Duke back to his sidescrolling roots but with a modern touch. But other than that, it's a completely unrelated project.
It was developed by Sunstorm Interactive, already behind the fan favorite expansion packs for DN3D Duke it out in D.C. and Duke Caribbean. With some help and guidelines by 3D Realms itself, better used to collaborations. (see that as another reason why Forever kept being delayed or never got released in the first place)

The game was built on a 3D engine named Prism3D.

As an anniversary title, Manhattan Project is a celebration of everything Duke Nukem and how the big guy got started.
The entire game can be seen as a tribute to the original retro classic Duke Nukem 1 or even a reimagining of it.

The game is a return to the awesome run & gun gameplay 3D Realms was used to make back in the old days of Apogee Software. Like the original or Commander Keen, it's an action sidescroller where you control your hero from a third person perspective, exploring gigantic 2D levels with tons of secrets to find and even more enemies to blast your way through.

Arcade style, like Duke 1 and 2. Yet still retaining the aesthetic and design from Duke 3D.

But everything's been modernized to provide the best experience possible at the time.

The story is told through old school static screens, it opens with the Duke on TV and it almost featured the return of the original villain Dr. Proton (but that was scrapped to avoid issues with Forever being developed at the same time). 

Manhattan Project opens with a new villain attacking New York City.
His name is Mech Morphix and he's here to get his revenge on Duke and the city.
He terrorizes the city with all sorts of vehicles, weapons and technology while recreating all sorts of mutants from the past to help him stop the Duke.
That means PigCops are back, alongside mutant alligators, ten-foot tall roaches, etc! The game offers more than 25 different enemies such as fem-mechs and many more!
Mech Morphix created a deadly Gluon Liquid Omega-Phased Plasma. Or G.L.O.P.P. for short.

Which allows him to mimic the alien's mutations from the previous games.
But Duke can also use it as a weapon. This time Duke has access to about 9 kinds of weapons. Some use the primary ammunitions, bullets. Others explosives. And the rest the toxic GLOPP.

Duke will have to explore 8 huge worlds to save the babes the mad man kidnapped and put a definitive stop to his schemes.

A typical day for the Duke!

The game is pure Duke Nukem. Meaning great level design, very fun gameplay. The best simulation of a badass hero!

The level design, crafted under the attentive eye of 3D Realms is fantastic! The levels are huge and almost free despite the 2D angle. In fact there's a lot of alternate paths to find the hidden secrets and more ammo.

It might look like a pretty linear experience at first look, but it's anything but that! There's a lot of explore and find around. The camera is dynamic and stays rarely passive. You can zoom in to better enjoy the little details around. Even though the character models aren't super detailed (voluntary for this kind of game), they look great and are well animated. The game plays a lot with different angles to make the best of this 3D sidescroller.

The levels will see Duke travel a lot of ground during this adventure. From the city's skyscrapers, jumping around rooftops, to nightclubs in Chinatown, a warehouse district, the subway tunnels, sewers, a factory, the rig where the GLOPP is created on the sea, to Mech Morphix' space station for a final fight against him in "Orbital Oblivion"!

It's a pretty long game with enough to explore if you want to complete it 100%. Each of these 8 worlds usually have 3 acts with a final boss fight at the end of act 3.

There's a lot of bosses, they're all uglier than the last one. Usually gigantic or harder versions of some normal enemies alongside some few extras. (like the Roach Queen, Morphix's in a helicopter, the Robo-Duke..)

It's sort of a platformer shooter. There's some light emphasis on platform segments here and there. But it's super playable and always fun. And, hey, keep an eye open, don't miss a crack in a wall or a secret platform around those.

To fight these creatures you can find all the usual items from Duke Nukem games. And you can always count on your weapons, from pipe bombs, machine guns, rocket launchers to the classic shotgun. Oh, and have fun with the more scifi guns!

To perfectly complete this game you'll need to both collect all the nukes hidden around and save the babes!

There's some replay value. Once the game completed if you got all the nukes you can unlock some stuff depending on your difficulty setting. (more firepower or defense in the form of a blue colored shirt to the ultimate weapon, the X-3000, a lightning gun)

And if that's not enough secrets there's also an extra hidden boss! (hint: you'll need all the above first!)

My only regret  is that Manhattan Project is only missing some secret levels. (or did I miss something, guys?)

This is Duke Nukem done right.

There's a lot of Ash quotes. Some clever allusions and meta-jokes. No poop jokes.

Since it's an anniversary title, it pays tribute to the original Duke of course, but it also respects what Duke 3D brought up and adds many new ideas.

On the CD of the original PC version the game also came up with a fun little level editor.

The soundtrack is rockin'! Lots of kickass theme songs and metal music. Fitting.

This all-new adventure is a faithful successor to the original series. 3D Realms and Remedy got to playtest the game to assure the quality standard. And it shows, it's a real work of love.

It's only sad the game ends on such a downer...

"Look for Duke next in... Duke Nukem Forever!"

Overall, a really fun fantastic game!

It really does its job: showing the best of Duke.

If only this had been the actual Duke Nukem Forever... Did we really need another 3D FPS Duke game? This could be the way the series would take. And DN3D being the odd man out?

The game was re-released on Xbox live. It's mostly an identical port of the original.

If you go for the PC version, I really recommend getting the official patch. It fixes 2-3 minor problems and then perfectly runs on a modern Windows 7 computer. And it's still available at 3D Realm's page. (though I only did that at the end of the game, in a level that posed problem otherwise)

I give it:
3 / 3 Quacks!

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