If there’s been one constant about the steady stream of game reissues over the last few years, it’s that, with a handful of exceptions — Metro 2033 Redux and Gears Of War Ultimate Edition chief among them — most aren’t worth your money if you’ve already played the original. But now we can add Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC) to the list of good ones because it not only perfectly recreates the 1996 original, it adds a whole new section and other fun stuff as well.
Like in the original, Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour has you taking up arms when some annoying aliens invade Earth. Though you also take up legs since one of our hero’s signature moves is to kick people in the face. And don’t get me started with what he does with his mouth.
From the get-go, it’s clear that Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour is not an upgraded version of the original. While it’s supposed to have, “realistic 3D modeling and improved lighting” (according to the press release that came with my review copy of the game), it actually just looks like the original. In fact, while you can switch between the “new” and “old” visuals on the fly — y’know, like you could with the versions of Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary and Halo 2: Anniversary in the Halo The Master Chief Collection — all this does is illustrate that the graphical improvements just make everything look a little bit brighter and shinier.
Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour also doesn’t upgrade the controls or the gameplay. You can’t look down the barrel of your gun for added accuracy, your health doesn’t regenerate over time, and you slide around like you’re ice skating on a frozen pond, not like you’re running on city streets.
But neither of the previous paragraphs are complaints. Complaining that the Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour is too much like the original is like complaining that the Criterion Collection Blu-ray of Gojira makes Godzilla look even more like a guy in a rubber suit. Sure, updating everything would’ve been cool, but only if they also included the option to play it the old school way as well. Those who revise history are doomed to hear me complain about it.
That said, the Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour does have some new, though unobtrusive parts. The biggest of these is “Alien World Order,” a new, fifth chapter that expands the campaign. It is from here that the game gets the World Tour part of its name, as this has you battling aliens in Moscow, Paris, and, even the cafes of Amsterdam’s red light district. And yet, it still feels like it comes from the same time and place as the rest of the game. While the levels are varied, both from each other and from the earlier ones, you’re still skating around, shooting aliens who look like they’re on loan from Jabba The Hutt’s summer home on Tatooine, while searching for something, anything that will replenish your health.
You can even, in what I consider to be a cool movie, skip right past the original game and not only start playing the “Alien World Order” section right away, but you can skip to any of its levels as well. And this is also true for any level of the game.
Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour also does something interesting when you die. Rather than have you go back to the previous checkpoint when you’re killed, this instead gives you a slider that allows you to restart the current level from any point you’ve reached in that level. You can restart where you died, a few minutes earlier, even all the way back at the beginning. It’s something I’d love to see in other games; if not right away, then at least when playing a game a second time, or maybe only when playing the game on “Easy” or “Normal.”
On the audio front, the Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour not only has the original one-liners, but it also boasts new ones recorded by Jon St. John, who’s done Duke’s voice since the beginning. There’s even an option to play the game with a developer commentary track, like they do on a movie and TV show Blu-rays.
Lastly, while Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour has new maps for its multiplayer modes. Not only are all of the levels from “Alien World Order” available in multiplayer, just like the levels from the original sections, but there’s also a new, multiplayer-exclusive one called “Prima Arena.”
That said, the multiplayer modes in Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour aren’t great. Granted, the “Deathmatch” mode “Dukematch,” the co-op option, and “DM-Bots” — which is “Dukematch” against the computer — all work as advertised. But unless you miss the days when Unreal Tournament, Quake, and Duke Nukem 3D were the pinnacle of online multiplayer shooters, these modes probably won’t grab you, especially given that such modern multiplayer standard bearers as Gears Of War 4, Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, and Battlefield 1 are all out now or will be out soon.
This, however, is not the only problem with the Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour. For starters, this doesn’t have any of the expansions, including those included in such previous reissues as the 1998 Kill-A-Ton edition of the game, or the 2013 Megaton version. Which makes this collection less than complete, and thus not the definitive edition it should’ve been.
There are also some who won’t appreciate that the humor in the game is as old as the gameplay. Even in the new “Alien World Order” part, the jokes are the kind of bad one-liners Hollywood gave up on after Arnold Schwarzenegger became California’s governor.
Still others won’t like that the Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour has you getting into shootouts in strip clubs and bars and porno theaters. And while the game’s pixilated graphics make the bikini clad women look more like blotches of color than anything erotic, I’d still skip this game if you don’t appreciate juvenile humor or two-dimensional depictions of women.
In the end, if you were hoping for an updated version of Duke Nukem 3D to celebrate the game’s twentieth birthday, or even a new Duke Nukem game with some nods to the past like Lara Croft just got with the Rise Of The Tomb Raider 20 Year Celebration collection, this ain’t it. But if you’re a fan of Duke Nukem 3D, and want to play it on your current console or computer, this not only perfectly recreates the original game, but it adds some fun new levels in the spirit of the original. Which makes it a bit more than the typical reissue.