[Review] Duke Nukem 3D

REVIEW # 00000000  01001000

Come get some!

Drop your hat for the Duke guys, here’s another game that well deserved its 10/10

My heart says…

There’s no human being who doesn’t love Duke after playing it. Even if FPSs are not your kind of games, it’s most likely you’ve played Duke at least once and for sure this is one of the few games where the protagonist became more famous than the game itself becoming an icon. This is by far my favourite FPS of all time an I don’t think another game could ever undermine its position. The great graphics, the desecrating behavior of Duke and the exceptional gameplay of DN3D have captured me from the first time. I remember when I fisrt played it and when a friend of mine borrowed me the Plutonium Pak: I spent the long winter months sitting on the chair in front of the PC playing over and over again. Absolutely a must in every gamer collection.

Splash screen

Everytime you see that nuclear symbol being bombed by what it looks like an RPG bullet, you know that you’re about to get fun. The background music is also damn good and cheers you up what you need to kick alien asses. It is also very cool to have a demo of the game while you browse on the main menu.


DN3D uses a modified version of the Doom graphic engine, named Build engine, an upgraded engine but always a pseudo-3D one (in fact is classified as a 2.5D engine). There are some main improvements from the forerunner; for example the possibility to have different ceiling/floor height and slopes,  sloped wall design and in general a better rendering of the textures. The engine was very successful and it was used also for Shadow Warrior and Blood.

The detail level in Duke was awesome for the time and it’s still impressive nowadays, even though through a retrogaming perspective: sprites, explosions, variety of setting (light, shadows, earth, moon…whatever!) make thi THE game of reference among the FPS and for sure one of the best games of all-time. Though are not the graphics the main aspect mostly remembered of this game, they’re a delight for the eyes and somethingnot to be missed!


The plot is rather straightforward if you consider the first two installments of the Duke saga. Aliens bastards invade planet Earth and all the world turn the eyes of Duke the last hero who can save them. However the best part of the plot, even though it’s not tecnically part of it, is the great range of cachphrases that Duke can pronounce.


The whole gameplay of Duke can be resumed in one of his most famous quotes:

Kick ass and chew bubble-gum

And this mainly for two reasons: first of all it’s an FPS so 99% of time you’ll be busty to crack enemies’ skulls in order to proceed with the game. The part of chewing bubble-gum it’s a metaphore of the casual wandering of Duke through the levels and the stupid think he (you) can do: take a mic and sing out of key, pay a stripper to show her boobs, kill an alien while he’s shitting, play pool with a shotgun (yes, you cannot imagine how many pool games I’ve played!). This game is really excellent in conjugating this two aspects and it’s what made Duke one of the best games of its genre.

Everything in Duke oozes machismo: he takes drugs to improve his strenghts, wanders around the red light district, watches adult movies. In the end it’s not a game for girls.

The main task is, of course, kill all enemies: most of them are what back then looked like board on steroids and evil versions of Alf, all armed to the teeth. Duke’s arsenal includes 9 different weapons and the old trusted kick in the ass:

  • Pistol: the main weapon. It’s not so effective but the ammo is very high (200 bullets) so it can be useful when you’re out on ammo on the more powerful weapons
  • Shotgun: a precise but slow weapon due to the charge time. However it’s very effective and the damage is not to be underestimate.
  • Chaingun Cannon: a great load of lead! This weapon is really dangerous: you can an incredible amount of bullets all together, making most of the enemies absolutely harmless. One of the best weapons in the game
  • RPG: handle with care. This is probably the most powerful weapon, has a long range, it’s very precise and aims automatically to the target. But watch out! Use this with an enemy too close and you’ll be damaged too. Sometimes to death…
  • Pipe Bomb: great wepon if you want to kill someone in the shadows or in stealth mode. Just drop the bomb, hide behind a wall and wait for the enemy to arrive: with the remorte control you can make this bomb explode when you want. Great to use as a trap!
  • Shrinker: maybe one of the less used weapons in the game. I casts a ray that shrinks all the enemis that can be later mashed with your mighty foot.
  • Devastator: while it’s a fun weapon this is maybe one of the ones I used the least. It’s highly effective and has an alluring look.
  • Laser Bomb: You have to use very carefully this stuff since you can store only 10. But when you’ll place them you can sit down and watch the mighty explosion. So cool!
  • Freezethrower: Another less known weapon I alwayd used only when I was out of ammo on all the other weapons. With this you can turn all your enemies into icy popsicles, but pay attention, because the ice cubes thrown by this baby can bounce against walls and come back to you causing some severe damage.

Another great while “illegal” things Duke is known for is are the cheats code. This is not something new since the forerunner Doom II had a cool cheat codes list that became iconic and that all of the gamers remmeber very well. If you were and FPS lover back then and you asked a fellow “IDKFA” you’ll be most likely answered “IDDQD”. For Duke was the same. If you say DNSTUFF (all weapons, cardkeys and stuff) the reply will probably be DNKROZ (god mode). There were also other famous cheats, such as DNCLIP to pass throught the walls but having a full inventory and being unbreakable were more or less all that you needed.

Duke pays a huge homage to Doom since the HUD, the wepons, the graphic interface, the setting and the cheat code system were very very similar. It’s not a secret that back in the day id Software and 3D Realms were two big names in the videogames industry.


Back in the days when controlling an FPS with mpouse and keyboard wasn0t mainstream, the game did the job in a really excellent way. Whether you control Duke only with the keyboard (even if you have a fixed crosshair) or with keyb and mouse the experience is great: space to jump, CTRL or lef mouse to fire and 0-9 to choose weapon. Only the things from the inventory required a bit more patience (there are dedicated keys to use steroids, medikit, jetpac etc…) but considering that you can use this things while you’re in a safe place searching the correct key on the keyboard is not a problem.


I can resume my grade about the soud department of Duke with this:


You know I’m not a completist mainly because I like to jump from game to game after a while so I don’t have time to complete them all. However I’ve played Duke for years but I’ve never beat it. Maybe even because I had a bit of fear to go further in the levels. Some places of the game really scared me so bad! Despite this Duke is a long game and to complete it findind all the secret places is a real challenge. Only for hardcore FPS lovers 🙂

Final Score 100/100

I’ve thought a lot before giving my final grade to Duke. I didn’t want to be too light in my evaluation since I’ve already revisited three 100/100 games. I was tempted to stay around 95-97 but then I played it again to be sure I was doing the right thing. And…well. I couldn’t help to give Duke the maximum I could!

Year: 1996

Developer: 3D Realms

Publisher: GT Interactive

Genre: Shooter, First Person Shooter

Game Mode: Single Player, Multiplayer

Original Platform: MS-DOS, Windows

From the same developers:

  • Terminal Velocity (1995)
  • Max Payne (2001)
  • Prey (2006)

For the games developed released before 1996 see Apogee

From the same publishers:

Inspired to:

  • Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
  • Doom (1993)

If you liked it you can also try:

  • Heretic (1994)
  • Rise of the Triad (1994)
  • Doom II (1994)
  • Half-Life (1998)
  • Serious Sam: The First Encounter (2001)

Other chapters of the saga:

  • Duke Nukem (1991)
  • Duke Nukem II (1993)
  • Duke Nukem 64 (1997)
  • Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown (1997)
  • Duke Nukem: Time to Kill (1998)
  • Duke Nukem: Zero Hour (1999)
  • Duke Nuke: Land of the Babes (2001)
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project (2002)
  • Duke Nukem Forever (2011)

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. PERFECT SCORE? Yeah, I was pretty insanely addicted to Duke when it first came out as shareware. Definitely felt like a true sandbox game. I played through that first level over and over and over. I have the GOG version and I’ve collected some of the console ports. As poorly as Duke’s attitude has aged, the game is still fun as hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      And it’s still one of the best FPS I’ve ever played. Especially thanks to Duke’s attitude. It makes everything better…


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