It's been 12 years both in game time and in real life since we last saw the gum chewing, ass kicking, wise cracking, sexist, gun toting wise guy Duke Nukem. Like Gran Tursimo 5 and Alan Wake, this game was delayed so many times it seemed unlikely that it would ever see the light of day. When 3D realms went under, it seemed even more unlikely but the rumours persisted, Duke WAS going to come back.
Finally Gearbox and Take 2 announced that they had indeed stepped into the breach and taken the reigns on the project. Seeing as this was the studio responsible for Borderlands expectations were high. Has the wait been worth it? Well find a big fat cigar, strap on your gun belts and make sure you have plenty of beer, bullets and chewing gum, because like the man says, "I'm back baby!"
So as said, twelve years ago Duke beat the alien hordes and sent them scuttling back home to mama with their tails tucked between their legs. To celebrate there's going to be a movie and a game to mark the occasion and Duke is going to be the guest of honour on the nation's highest rated chat show. Yes life for the Duke is sweet, the ladies love him, he's had sponsorships ladled upon him left right and centre. But the Duke has the gut feeling that something is wrong. Even as he prepares to go too the chat show, the news comes in that the aliens have returned, apparently to negotiate with Earth. But the Duke suspects that there's a much darker motive, revenge being the main motive. Indeed the Earth Defence League and the President himself advise Duke not to take any action against the aliens. However when Duke Towers is hit by fluctuations in the power supply and the audience for the chat show have left the studio, and anyone left in the building seems to be in a damned hurry to get the hell out then Duke's mounting suspicions seem well founded. Well it's not long before power is lost completely and Duke comes under attack. So begins the adventure that follows. Many challenges face Duke but hey he's used to this sort of thing, should be a walk in the park surely? Err no...
In the twelve years they've been away, it's clear that the attackers have learnt some tactics. They won't always just swarm in, now they will seek to sabotage equipment, dive for cover and use sound judgement on the battlefield. They are willing to use all sorts of nastiness to dispose of our hero, and that includes shrinking him down too the size of a toy. But does that hold Duke back? Heck no! Jump into the driving seat of a radio controlled car and get yourself to a place where allies can restore you back to normal size again.
Indeed there are many new challenges facing Duke and many new methods of dealing with the enemy, including Riddick style crawling through ventilation shafts. So even Duke has learnt from past experience, and although he is no Sam Fisher, Duke has learnt that there is something to be said for stealth.
There are the usual tools of destruction available to Duke that old fans will appreciate and they work as well as they ever did. New fans will appreciate them too for sure. There's nothing quite as satisfying then freezing a foe in ice and then shattering them with a shot or a up close and personal melee attack. There is the shrink ray back as well as you can see from the above paragraph. Payback is a you-know-what but it's good fun to do too them what they wanted to do too you! Shrink them down and then stomp them with your size 10 boots!
Some new tools are available too, Duke vision for one. Again like Riddick or indeed Batman in Arkham Asylum, when the lights go out, Duke can switch too a handy night vision mode. The other noticeable new gimmick is Duke's ego meter. This is displayed in the top left corner of the screen, and whilst it is full, it acts as a shield. Once depleted though, Duke can take damage so find cover or kill something soon to refill it or find a piece of interactive scenery to use. These vary from pinball machines to gym equipment. When not in combat, using these items can actually extend the ego meter, so take every chance you can to find 'diversions' for Duke. There are others but I'll let you find those out for yourself.
And whilst not a gimmick as such, there is, for the first time since the downloadable Duke Nuke 'Em 3D on Xbox Live Arcade (and I do not know why they haven't made it available on the PSN Network) multiplayer on line.
This offers 4 modes of game play. There is the usual death match and team death match options. The other options are Capture the Babe (CTB) which works like Capture the Flag with teams competing to take one of the twins you see at the start throughout the single player campaign, and cart her off too their own camp. Likewise you have to do the same too their twin whilst avoiding laser beams, hand grenades and bullets. The last mode to mention is Hail too the King (HTTK). This is the most interesting on line game option with two teams competing to take control of sections of the battle map. Once a sector is taken over the control point changes colour, your job change it back again.