Archived Pages from 20th Century!!
|Reviewed by: Chris McMullen|
|Author:||3D Realms||Price:||Retail:£19.95 UK|
|Category:||3D Blaster||Released:||December 1996|
|Multiplayer:||Up to 8 via Modem/Serial, IPX.||Under Win95:||Unsatisfactory|
|Graphic modes:||320x200x256, 320x400x256, 640x480x256, 800x600x256|
|Controls:||Mouse, keyboard, gamepad.|
|Sound devices:||SoundBlaster, Sound Man 16, Gravis, Pro Audio Spectrum, AWE32, Soundscape, Disney Sound Source, Tandy Sound Source|
|Computer||Memory||HD space||CD speed||Other reqs/options|
|Minimum||486-25||8M||50M||x2||Registered Duke Nukem 3D required|
Reviewer's Hardware: AWE 32
Let's face it. Games are written to make money. Not, generally , to entertain the public, but to bring in dough. A game's playablility is only one of the factors involved; with enough money ploughed into marketing, it's possible to sell gamesplayers a steaming pile of poo. Fortunately, while the entire gaming public cannot be blinded by hype, you can guarantee that the hype machine can be used to coerce more than a few players into buying a duff title. In the games industry, cash is king.
Expansion packs are another case in point. If a company has a hit, there's always the temptation to milk it a bit more, by putting out a set of new missions or levels. This isn't always a good thing. The quality of these expansion packs vary widely. Some look like they've been knocked up in five minutes, while others look like they've had some real work put into them. They also have a tendancy to be impossibly hard. The offending designers know who they are. It's a cynical viewpoint, but it rings true all too often.
'Hey.. where'd everyone go?'
The Plutonium Pak is the official expansion pack for Duke Nukem 3D, 3D Realms 3D shoot-em-up. I'm not going to go into detail about the original game. Suffice to say, it was one of the best games of 1996, being in my opinion, a superior game to Quake. Oh, and you need the full version of Duke 3D to run the Plutonium Pak. You can find a full review here. So if you're still reading, I'm going to assume you've played Duke Nukem 3D, and will know what I'm talking about. What you'll want to know is 'What does the expansion pack add', and 'Is it any good?'.
Duke 3D's SVGA mode looks great.
Well, the Plutonium Pak, once applied to the full version of Duke 3D adds an entire new episode, 'The Birth', a total of 10 new levels. These take place over a variety of new locations, including a fast food joint, a supermarket, a nuclear power plant, an abandoned ship, and many other locations. The new episode includes two new baddies, the Pig Cop Tank, and the Queen Drone. There's also a new end of episode boss, the Alien Queen, who has a nasty habit of spewing out Queen Drones in your general direction. Finally, there's a new weapon, the Microwave Gun. This is a version of the Shrinker, which when fired at your enemies, will make them expand and explode with a loud bang, hurling guts everywhere. Oh, and any alien nasties close by when their comrade goes ballistic take damage too. Nasty.
And it runs faster than Quake.
You also get some assorted goodies as well; the CD contains shareware versions of a number of Apogee titles, two Duke Nukem Windows 95 desktop themes, and an entertainment pack, including screen savers, puzzles, and other stuff. There's one change I'm not particularly fond of, and that's that the CD is used as a form of copy protection; you need to have the CD in the drive to play. I find this particularly annoying; the game installs itself onto the hard drive, and doesn't use any data on the CD at all. I don't think this'd stop your average pirate for more than 5 seconds, and it's just a pain to people who have bought the game. I managed to find a crack for this, but it's still annoying that 3D Realms decided to implement this in the first place.
Court is now in session..
The question remains... is it any good? The answer is a definite yes. The levels are all professionally created, by the same folks responsible for the original Duke Nukem 3D, and while not stupidly hard, take longer to complete than the other levels in the game. And each location actually looks like a proper location, rather than the dingy halls of Quake or the military complexes of Doom. There's loads of humour too, and the game contains references to a number of films and tv shows, including The Terminator, Mission Impossible, The Avengers, Aliens and others. If you have Duke 3D, this is a must-have, especially with the screensavers and assorted goodies thrown in. Not cheap, but great stuff nonetheless.
|Appeal:||Duke + Quake fans.. PC arcade players|
|Originality & Storyline:||Fairly original.. the plot's not up to much, though.|
|Graphics & Video:||Excellent.. the levels look like actual places.. instead of Quake's boring old brown halls.|
|Audio:||Good.. top quality SFX + msuic abounds.|
|Longevity:||A few days to complete, but you'll come back to it.. and there's multiplayer mode too..|
|Presentation:||Menus for a few basic things, but command line parameters for the complicated stuff.|
|Packaging & Docs:||Pretty standard.. a thin paper manual, but there's a comprehensive on-line manual.|
|Bugs & Problems:||None spotted. But you need the CD in the drive to play.|