Duke Nukem 3D
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I’ve played my way through the rest of the 87 levels over the last few days. It got a whole lot tougher so the second half took way longer than the first. It’s not a long game but was probably about right to not outstay it’s welcome. There was nothing new really, just more of the same so there isn’t much to add to what everyone has already said.
I wouldn’t say there was much consistency with the difficulty. Some of the later levels can be done in no time with others taking me ages to figure out. No matter how tough it got, I always found it less frustrating than Lemmings which would maybe have been the main competition at the time. It’s the fact you can quickly change things and try things out with no real penalties.
I liked the game a lot. Not enough to put it in the classic category but close. There is a slight lack of variety and the puzzles can be hit and miss. I expect the sequels improved on both of these aspects so I’ll certainly be giving them a go at some point.
I have played TIM a few years back so not sure if this counts as first impressions. At any rate, I had about an hour on it last night and it still a fresh experience going back. It seems like there is a single solution in mind with every puzzle which could be problematic if you don’t grasp the intention of the designer. It picks up in the later levels where things can get a bit more chaotic and I’m sure some of my solutions weren’t entirely the ones intended.
I actually like the pixel perfect nature of some of the puzzles. None of the solutions take more than a few seconds to run and making little adjustments and setting the machine off again to see what difference it makes can be more entertaining than building them in the first place. I’m sure my PII is running the game faster than intended having said that. If I was at the original speed, I might not feel the same.
I quite like the music as well. It’s kind of upbeat and quirky and reminds me of the Willy Beamish soundtrack a lot of the time. Can’t say I’ve checked if it’s the same composer.
The interface could use a little refinement. I don’t like having to flick through the lists of components so much when there are loads for a given puzzle. It’s crying out for a scroll bar with mouse wheel support. Assuming it doesn’t actually remember where I’m up to when I restart the game, I could seriously live without the long level code to type in to pick up my progress. Other than that, this is holding up really well for such an old game.
I’ve got the opposite concern that there possibly aren’t enough levels. The box says there are “over 75 levels” which means 80 if I recall correctly. I got through 41 last night so at that rate I might finish it with another go. I can’t say I remember the individual puzzles but maybe the solutions are buried in there somewhere and speeding up progress. I’m curious to know how other people are getting on. The expansion pack added another 80 levels but I don’t actually own that one.
I’ve spent a lazy Saturday morning playing a whole lot more and it’s definitely grown on me. It’s either getting easier or I’m getting the hang of the controls and stange combat style you have to adopt (probably the latter). The better weapons definitely help and some of the levels have had much reduced enemy counts with more focus on exploring.
I had noticed the little pixel on the eyeball for spotting secrets although I’m just going around hugging walls and clicking all the time as it’s quicker. That pixel doesn’t light up for the walls you have to shoot either but I eventually noticed that these always have a slightly different texture. Once you know to look for these it’s obvious but it took me long enough to spot it.
The later levels have started introducing boxes and gravestones which can be pushed around. There have been some sneaky puzzles involving walls you have to shoot at distance from one side to clear a path so you can then push a gravestone from the other. There is certainly more brainpower required than Wolfenstein 3D anyway. You can quite easily make some of the levels unwinnable so I recommend keeping a spare save file for the start of each level just in case.
Now I’ve got into it, I reckon I may actually be enjoying this more than if I were to go back to Wolfenstein. It seems to me like you need to adopt a slightly different mindset to play one of these oldschool FPS titles. I’m probably getting too used to being guided around on rails.
I’m halfway through episode 2 now. This has ramped up the difficulty with far more enemies in one area at a time. There are lots of human enemies in this second part who are barely damaged at all by the wand at the middle difficulty so I’m having to make sure I have the right weapon all the time. If I hadn’t played episode 1 first I probably wouldn’t be able to get anywhere in this but I’m making steady progress.
The only place I could find to buy the full game was direct from the author at http://www.dgray.com/n3dpage.htm. It’s slightly steep considering the age of the game at $12 which gets you Windows and Dos versions. The Windows version won’t actually run on Windows 10 but the installer does work and dumps the DOS versions in the installation folder.
I’m also playing this for the first time not having run across it before now. I don’t think we should be that unkind about the graphics/engine. This only came out in April 94, a few months after Doom. There were still Wolfenstein-like commercial games coming out around then like Corridor 7 and this doesn’t look all that much worse to me. I can’t say I bought any of them at the time mind you when I had Doom to play instead.
I definitely agree on this being hard. I’ve gone for the middle difficulty level and those women in white who float around the place can take half my health in a single hit. The enemies appear to be able to shoot through walls at times which isn’t helping. The only way to get through plenty of sections is knowing where the enemies are in advance requiring constant saving. I notice that the damage done/received drops massively depending how far you are away so a tactic that sort of works without using too much ammo is kamikaze runs straight at enemies since they can’t shoot back while you are hitting them. I can’t say I’m too struck with the combat. There is none of the satisfaction that comes with a decent shooter.
A big part of that is the controls are somewhat infuriating. I’m playing this on real hardware so keyboard mapping is out. Just playing with keyboard is ok but the turns are too inaccurate for me to hit often enough. This means using the mouse which conveniently has the right mouse button for strafe/open door. This should be fine except it only switches on strafe when you move the mouse side to side, not pressing left/right on the keyboard. Maybe if I play this for long enough I’ll get used to it but right now I’m getting by without any strafing. Even if I could strafe all the enemy attacks appear to be instantaneous so I couldn’t dodge them either way.
The instructions talk about this game having puzzles. The only puzzles I’m finding are the usual find the keys and the ridiculous number of secret doors/walls. I wandered around forever before I found a section of wall I was supposed to shoot on level 3. The levels are huge to have to find these sorts of secrets to progress.
I can’t say this game is entirely awful but it’s really not winning me over so far. I’ve only done the 3 levels though and will stick with it.
There are loads of great suggestions here. Not enough people have played Realms Of The Haunting so that would be my personal choice from everything mentioned so far. It’s one of the handful of decent FMV games and more than a little weird but in a good way.
If you want something obscure, The Legacy was an atmospheric Lovecraft inspired first person dungeon crawler and the last game ever put out by Magnetic Scrolls. I really enjoyed it but it seems to be forgotten these days.
Veil of Darkness was a decent SSI RPG featuring vampires that I vaguely recall playing many years back.
Finally, the Call of Cthulu series (Shadow of the Comet + Prisoner of Ice) is well worth a look as far as point and clicks go.
Thanks for the welcome. I don’t know about having a lot of QFG experience. I certainly played QFG2 loads when it first came out and went back and finished the first a couple of years later. Having reached #4, I’d really like to see the series through at long last. I’ve had all 5 of them sat in a bookcase for a shameful number of years waiting to be played.
As far as being on the podcast goes, I’ve nothing against the idea in principle although I doubt I’d be the most natural of podcasters. As long as I can make the time, I’d be up for giving it a go.