Duke is a relic of a bygone age – a parody of eighties action heroes, powered by mid-nineties technology, and a game that’s aged harder and uglier than even Doom. It’s a fine port, though. The new Live Arcade functions are a great demonstration of just how an old game should be brought to XBLA. The controls work beautifully, and the new rewind function lets you pick a safe moment to respawn following death. Online, it’s a mess, and oddly, a far cry from the fun we had in online Dukematches back on the trusty old 56K modem.
But it’s Duke’s ambition that makes it feel so aged. Back in 1996, the interactive toilets, projectors, video cameras, and er… exotic dancers made Duke feel as though it was a herald of the future. Twelve years on, and the impact is utterly lost. Those same tricks, implemented as poorly as they are in real-world locations still built like Doom maze maps, make Duke 3D seem sillier than straight, basic shooters like Doom or Quake – also from 1996. It’s a relic, but one worth playing to see both its influence on modern games, and the archaic design choices, since thankfully cast into the ether.
Oct 17, 2008