Duke Nukem 64 (N64)
Duke Nukem 64 holds the distinction of being the third 3D action/shooter ported from the computer. Unlike the previous two offerings (Doom 64 and Hexen), Duke Nukem 64 is a worthwhile purchase for most fans of the series, thanks in part to its new level sequence, cooperative mode, and Dukematch option that comes complete with computer opponents.
Duke Nukem 64 is a port of the computer version, but it's not exactly like Duke Nukem 3D. For example, all nudity in the Nintendo 64 game has been removed. There are still the occasional dancing girls, though they are clothed, and you still save babes on every level. In fact, all sexual references have been removed. The movie theater in the first level now plays a sci-fi movie and the adult book store in the second level is now a gun shop. So, according to Nintendo, it's OK to promote lots of violence, but it's not OK to promote sexual themes. In addition, the level sequence gets increasingly unfamiliar to fans after the first four or five. It seems that Eurocom has added levels from some of the add-on packs to the mix. That means you'll fight on earth, then go to the alien ship, and finally come back to earth.
Disappointingly, the control scheme in Duke Nukem 64 can't be catered to your liking. You do have the option between "Control Stick Look" (like Turok) and "Control Stick Move" (like Doom 64 or Hexen), in addition to a few variations, but you can't assign the individual buttons. I know that my friend uses the "Control Stick Move" option and would have liked to use the A button to fire instead of Z. Also, the "Control Stick Look" function isn't quite as smooth as it is in Turok or GoldenEye.
Thankfully, Duke Nukem 64 features a cooperative mode for two players. In my humble opinion, all 3D action/shooters should include this option. However, it's not quite as slick as it is in Hexen. For example, while the viewing distance is not limited like in Hexen, there are two quirks that don't make it as good. First, when you save in Duke Nukem 64, it starts you at the beginning of the level. It would have been really helpful, especially in this game, to save anywhere you want in a level. Of course, that would have taken a lot more pages on the Controller Pak. Second, both players cannot pick up the same items, even if they're important. It would have been nice if both players could pick up the keycards or the latest weapon -- not the ammo but the weapon.
The Dukematch option in Duke Nukem 64 is great. As you would expect, you can play with up to four players. But if there's only three, two or even one person playing, then you can put in special computer-controlled "Dukebots" if you want. Furthermore, the Dukematch can be played on any of the levels from the single-player game or on the specially designed multi-player levels. When it's all said and done, Duke Nukem 64's Dukematch is almost as good as the one in GoldenEye 007.
The graphics in the Nintendo 64 version are better than the computer version running in a lower resolution. Everything is filtered and anti-aliased. The levels are all designed out of polygons, while the enemies are made of sprites. In general, everything looks nice and runs smoothly, but it's not up to the standards set by Turok and GoldenEye. That's OK, though, because that means we got the cool cooperative mode.
When it comes to sound, Duke Nukem 64 is missing something: background music. There is a pretty cool MIDI song at the title screen, but that's the only place in the game where you'll find music. The background music had to be ditched because of the limited cartridge format and because it would slow down the game. Instead, Eurocom opted to include all kinds of sound effects and voice. And somewhat surprisingly, the trade-off was worth it. Whenever you pick up weapons or annihilate enemies, Duke says some great comments such as "Hail to the king, baby." or "What are you waiting for...Christmas?" or the infamous "Come get some." Additionally, the sound effects of the weapons are great.
Considering how great of a port it is, Duke Nukem 64 has only one major flaw in my eyes: it's too hard. My friend and I aren't the greatest at 3D action/shooters, so we played on the easiest level of difficulty and still got our butts kicked. As soon as someone dies, you might as well reload the game, because you won't have a chance without weapons. And, of course, it's not very fun to keep on having to play through the same level again and again. This is why I think being able to save anywhere would have been extremely useful.
Nevertheless, Duke Nukem 64 ends up being a great game, with tons of levels, lots of challenge, cooperative play, and a cool Dukematch mode. It's the second best 3D action/shooter on the Nintendo 64 in my book, right behind GoldenEye 007. Even if you're a huge fan of the PC version, you'll still want to look into this one. Whether you're playing by yourself, with a friend, or against others in a Dukematch, Duke Nukem 64 is a great way to pass time.
Graphics: 7.6 out of 10
Sound: 7.8 out of 10
Control: 7.2 out of 10
Gameplay: 8.2 out of 10
Replay Value: 8.2 out of 10
Overall: 8.0 out of 10