Duke Nukem 3D: The Abyss

(This is part of my journey going checking out Duke Nukem 3D. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

After a not-so-charming trip through a toxic waste dump, Duke has arrived at the abyss. He stared into it, the abyss stared back, and the abyss flinched. What am I waiting for, Christmas?

The random cliff cactus here actually hurts you if you run into it. Innovation!

I’m starting to worry that this initial mission pack of the game front-loaded all of its really interesting and inventive levels, because now I’m in a (yawn) desert canyon with ramps and the worst soundtrack ever. What happened to the cinema and the electric chair? This is… so… dull.

Hey, random plaque in the middle of the desert for no reason! I’m sure this isn’t going to foreshadow anything…

…except that massive earthquake that just reshaped the entire level.

This is just a horrible level: Dull, confusing, lots of twisty turny paths in the dark, lots of vertical space in a game that makes it hard to see up and down, etc. And there’s just so little of it that’s interesting from a tourist standpoint!

Then when I see something interesting, such as this spaceship/portal thing, I can’t figure out how to get there. ARGH.

At last, I’m able to find a hatch and invite myself inside the alien craft. A really nice fellow by the name of Jeff greeted me and we had tea. By which I mean that I rocket-slapped this octobrain across six dimensions.

Is… is this door mooning me? Aliens got weird interior decoration notions, let me say.

In the inner sanctum of the alien ship is the boss — a Battlelord. Very big, ugly, and well-armed guy blasting away. After a disappointing level, this turns out to be a terrifically fun fight. The room is large, stocked with ammo, there’s lava, secrets, and even a jet pack if you want to fly around. This guy soaks up bullets and rockets like nobody’s business, but in the end, the Duke prevails.

And with that, Duke finishes up his first campaign… but the war isn’t over yet. It is for me, however. I think one campaign was enough to revisit this game and remember what it felt like to play. Even today, Duke Nukem 3D is a wickedly enjoyable shooter, full of personality, great guns, clever gadgets, and mostly well-done level design.

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