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Old 07-14-2010, 01:36 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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[360] - Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project Review

Title: Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project
Platforms: Xbox 360
Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
Developer: 3D Realms
Publisher: 3D Realms
MSRP: 1200 points
Writer: Martin 'lost' Perry

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project Review

Duke Nukem is history...

There have been plenty of XBLA re-releases lately, classic titles like Perfect Dark have been welcomed with open arms, particularly given their visual upgrades and new features. 3D Realms, still going after all controversy, has decided to pitch in on the efforts and bring back a 'classic' Duke Nukem adventure in the form of Manhattan Project. This 2.5D side-scroller was originally released way back in 2002 and pleased a few fans who enjoyed the simple, action filled gameplay.

Unfortunately the game hasn't aged well at all and the majority of its charm has completely worn off. As a character, Duke is something of a dusty relic failing to traverse into this new era game with the same grace as Zelda or Mario. The story is simple enough, with Mech Morphix up to trouble and Duke is the only guy man enough to save the day. As he typically likes to do this is achieved by saving babes, shooting things and blowing stuff up.

Doesn't sound too dissimilar to a lot of titles currently being released with $60 price tags and lots of shouting soldiers does it? The problem is that the level objectives fail to excite or motivate the player particularly when the Arcade has become an arena for creative gameplay. You are tasked with trawling through the levels, blasting away familiar enemies, and trying to find a key card and a bomb-strapped babe. Other than boss battles this is how the majority of the game is spent.

That becomes very frustrating very quickly, especially once you have to deal with the irritating character movement. Duke can jump and double jump but almost bounces off of enemy characters. The resulting movement tends to be downwards, towards instant death or reversing the platforming that you have already completed. Similarly annoying are the directional shooting options it's either forward or upward within levels that feature inclines, ladders and an assortment of far less binary positions for the player to attempt to shoot from.

The levels themselves are pretty complex and still look OK the texture work is crisp and looks good in 3D. They just aren't involving nor addictive, a couple of qualities that go a long way when evaluating a retro game. Frequent checkpoints make sure that you never have to replay a significant amount of the level due to personal failure but it is incredibly easy to miss the bomb or the key card. When the core shooting and platforming mechanics are no longer fun, the motivation to retrace my steps in order to find the level completion requirements is minimal to none.

It's worth coming back to the visuals. While the level geometry and a few of the vehicle models look reasonable, Duke, his enemies and those ever-present babes look absolutely awful. The likes of the recent Perfect Dark re-release saw fit to update the character models and the same should have been done here. No matter how HD you make a game it will still look shoddy if arms and bodies stretch oddly during poor animations that shudder sharply between states. Not upgrading these models, when so many others already have, leave the game feeling like a cheap port.

There's still some merit in the title though. If you're looking for a simple experience that recalls how gaming used to be then this is probably your game if you can stomach the oddities and mechanical faults. The 27 levels on offer, and their complexity, means that you'll be playing Duke for longer than you will the majority of Arcade content. There's a lot of nostalgia for Duke, and plenty of fans that will buy the game in order to preserve their collection, but it fails to add any valuable new content to compel the modern player.

It's difficult not to admire the gutsy attitude of 3D Realms as a company despite some huge blows they continue to plug on. I can only hope that the commercial success of this dated, cheap port isn't the lynch-pin that the resurrection of the much maligned Duke Nukem Forever project hinges on. If you want to enjoy this title, if you really really need to buy it then you can find it much cheaper through gog.com and, failing you running a rig from the 90s, it'll run just as smoothly as it does here.

Score: 2 out of 5

The Good
  • The volume of levels is impressive for an XBLA title
  • A few of the boss battles have some ambition
  • Complex levels keep you playing for a good while.

The Bad
  • Visuals have not been updated at all.
  • Key collection gameplay feels ancient and boring
  • None of the usual incentives to get you to buy a re-release.

The Ugly
  • Stretchy, triangular tits.
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:37 AM   #2
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(Courtesy of 3D Realms)


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Old 07-14-2010, 11:41 AM   #3
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games like this make me wish I had a 360. Mostly for Duke Nukem 3d, but a few other things as well.
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:54 PM   #4
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You can buy this from Good Old Games for $6.
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Old 07-15-2010, 08:54 AM   #5
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I picked it up over Xbox Live and thought it was pretty fun. Certainly nothing amazing but it was fun to play through it again years later. And definitely nice to play on the big screen.
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duke nukem, manhattan project, old games, xbla

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