GBA Review - 'Duke Nukem Advance'

by The Cookie Snatcher on Sept. 4, 2002 @ 6:23 p.m. PDT

Duke Nukem, videogame’s leading man, is blasting and stomping his way on to the Game Boy Advance. Alien scientists have taken control of the top-secret Area 51 military base, and are plotting to overthrow Earth! The fate of the world depends on Duke’s ability to end their deadly mission. Armed with alien-busting weapons, his kick-butt attitude, and using the alien's own transporters, Duke takes the battle to four unique locations around the world. Oh, and he rescues a few babes along the way. Hail to the king, baby!

Platform: GBA
Genre: FPS
Publisher: Take-Two Interactive
Developer: Torus Games
Release Date: 8/12/2002

Duke Nukem Advance is exactly the kind of game that the GBA is in dire need of, it’s a solid well-executed port of a classic FPS that manages to maintain the same style and feel of the original 1996 PC game. While the PC version is unmistakably better looks and easier to control, developer, Torus Games, did a fine job of squeezing the essence of the game into a tiny bite-sized package. All 19 missions are completely original but with graphics and sound-clips heavily borrowed from Duke Nukem 3D PC. Torus Games even managed to include a four-player multiplayer component wherein you will take part in unrestrained deathmatches.

DNA’s story is not unlike that of it’s predecessors, the plot is as follows:

• A horde of alien scum attempts to kill off the world’s population with the exclusion of good-looking women.

• Duke Nukem goes to incredible lengths to keep the attractive women of the world safe from the clutches of alien invaders.

• The final showdown with the aliens takes place on an orbiting spacecraft.

There are four unique locations that will eventually lead to the ultimate face-off in the alien spacecraft, you'll start out in Nevada, get warped to the temples of Egypt, make your way to a consumer shopping area in Australia, and then finally the aforementioned enemy base. Kicking alien ass in the game’s 19 levels won't be all bubble gum and daisies however, and Duke will need to enlist the support of various weapons. The included weaponry in DNA is not as varied as that of the PC game but does include such favorites as pipe bombs, shrink rays, shotguns, and missile launchers.

Much of the original’s tried-and-true gameplay made its way onto the small screen. Running, jumping, shooting, and strafing are all accomplished with ease and include multiple button layouts in case your preferences differ from the default control scheme, though a full-out button assignment feature would have been appreciated. The objectives in each mission consist of tracking down multi-colored key cards, traversing an occasional platforming area, and mowing down enemies. One gripe I have with the game however, is the fact that each area’s environments consist of objects and backgrounds that look too similar to each other. This isn't usually such a problem in small areas but some missions take you through multiple buildings with lots of entrances and exits which make it hard to always know whether you've already been to that area or not. The included overhead map is a welcome addition but doesn't provide nearly enough pertinent information to be considered useful.

While the graphics in Duke Nukem Advance are not as pretty as the PC game on which this version is based, it’s pretty damn close. Objects and enemies scale realistically as you get closer and frame rate is consistently smooth. Some textures tend to blend into each other making it difficult to discern depth but this is the exception rather than the rule. The franchise’s dry and witty sense of humor is not lost on the GBA version and you'll see various billboards promoting fictitious products and hear the timeless Duke Nukem quotes such as “Come get some” and “Hail to the king, baby” in all their digitized glory. Not much can be said about the game in the audio department aside from the digitized quotes however, since any sort of in-game soundtrack is all but absent from the experience. The various sound effects such as the sound of unloading a shotgun blast into an alien sound appropriate but overall the game seems to suffer from tinny audio, due in part to the GBA’s lame mono-speaker.

Duke Nukem Advance offers up around ten full hours of game time in order to reach the end credits which aren't too spectacular but the included multiplayer aspect extends the longevity of the game considerably. Overall, this is a great FPS for a system that has seen it’s share of lackluster shooters. Definitely a must-play for Duke Nukem fans.

Score: 7.7/10

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