Duke Nukem Manhattan Project.iso (Size: 503.46 MB) (Files: 1)
Duke Nukem Manhattan Project.iso
Mech Morphix and his mutant minions are spreading GLOPP bombs throughout New York City by attaching them to immobilized women who have been well endowed by the almighty and clothed in revealing strings of yarn by their mothers. When detonated, these explosives will release radioactive crap that'll turn living things into really nasty living things. Duke Nukem, the man who brags about having the greatest job in the world, a position he obviously attained with the help of the DeVry institute, has been charged by NYC officials to quell this threat by shooting everything and never uttering more than four to five words in a sentence.
You wouldn't know it by playing it, but the Manhattan Project takes place in New York. Recognizable city landmarks are never used as they should be, and the bulk of this straight shooting and double-jumping platformer takes place in remarkably similar and profoundly generic locales. But it's about the shooting and the jumping, not the sightseeing.
An homage to its progenitors, this latest Duke effort is a 2D action platformer through and through. But in keeping with modern advancements in technology, it's rendered in three dimensions, polygons, textures, lighting, and all. It's the third dimension that really pulls the entire dinner together. Without it, the souffl¿, bruchetta, and smoked salmon should just be thrown in the trash.
It's a $25 game, this Manhattan Project. But like Serious Sam before it, this doesn't necessarily mean a damn thing. Duke's latest venture is a fine one, a polished one, a decent one, but a brief one. Yes, the staying power of the other crude gun-toting bastion of machismo seems to have escaped this title, but that doesn't mean the eight Saturday draining levels that comprise MP aren't a pleasant and fleeting trek back in time to a year when the platformer reigned and exploding monsters wasn't pass¿.
In stomping through Manhattan Project never did I cringe at broken play mechanics, shutter at confounding design, or reel back in disgust as I fumbled around aggravating situations. Some of the boss encounters require a bit of trial and error, but the patterns are easily discernable, and the foes are overcome without too much trouble (the first of the first four is in fact probably the most difficult and memorable).
But 2D platformers alone, bosses or not, are probably not enough to hold interest in this era when the thinking man's shooter reigns with uncontested supremacy, unless of course they are done with awe inspiring precision. Titles like Symphony of the Night, Guardian Heroes, and Strider 2 (which also proved short could be sweet, by the way) have reasserted that this age of 32 through 128 bit machines has plenty of room for old favorites done right. But Duke Nukem doesn't have the panache of those titles, in fact, I find it hard to see it as better than much older ones like the amazing Flashback, or the often overlooked, but still killer Blackthorn.
Granted, the graphics are slick. It's reasonable to think that the limited view of the 3D world would have allowed for a bit more articulation in the characters and the environments, but the glossy, solid, thick, and crisply and colorfully lit world of Duke Nukem's Manhattan Project has been rendered well.
In close ranges everything will seem vastly under developed, especially when compared to graphical powerhouses like Solider of Fortune 2, Serious Sam 2, or newcomers fueled by stunning next-generation Unreal, and God forbid, DOOM technology, but standard play always looks and runs smooth. Of particular note is my affinity with the explosions and smoke effects, which seem to have substance and actual depth when they blast apart mutated boars. Even the bullet impacts are sweet.
Only the often times dreary levels that at certain points awkwardly bend around corners or require leaps of faith that begin at pedestals you didn't even know you could walk on, really mar the otherwise sound aesthetic experience.
If the graphics are slick, the sound is sticky. If ever there were a clearly definable gaming definition of redundancy this would be it. Sure, technically the beats could all differ from level to level, but I dare a person to notice. Assuming one is even paying attention to the hopefully tuned out melodies, it's actually still with Duke himself that I take greater offense. Simply enough, his comments aren't funny. They're not even amusing in the pathetic Jerry Springer way that makes you embarrassingly smirk with nothing but disdain for the human race.
What he says is all so horribly clichéd and predictably delivered that he makes Sam "Serious" Stone, practically the fraternal twin of Duke, a laugh riot, amusing because he doesn't speak too often, but when he does, it's something that's humorous because of its uncanny stupidity. I liken it to being a teenage Stephen Butts and having to play Street Fighter II with your sister's obnoxious, idiot fratboy boyfriend. Anything idiot is going to say will have been said before, and what's worse is that it'll be coming from his mouth. So even though kicking his ass with Blanka as he so foolishly chooses Guile is enjoyable, it still doesn't make up for hearing his take on how you should be smoking cigarettes or becoming a proctologist.
It's old and it wasn't even funny to begin with.
But the sound isn't the biggest problem of Duke. The biggest problem is, ironically enough, that there is nothing big. Like I mentioned before, it's hard to justify Duke Nukem as any better or more worthwhile than other games of its ilk that came years and years before it.
When I first played Flashback, leapt across a chasm, rolled into a gun drawn stance and blasted away an enemy trying to reach a cleverly designed puzzle he was obstructing, I was captivated. Similarly, both Blackthorne with its almost futuristic Prince of Perisa feel and ability to shoot behind the back, and Abuse with its then and arguably still radically different cool control approach enthralled me. Manhattan Project doesn't even let you shoot diagonally. So how then can it hope to compete with those shooters, today's shooters, or even those third-person ones that attempted to take the classic 2D blaster into the next generation like One?
Honestly, it can't. But that doesn't mean it's not good in its own right. The enemies might not be as constant as Contra, nor is there as much pellet dodging, and the find the card -> go through exit formula will never be an adequate substitute for true objectives, but Duke still has his place, flaws and all.
See, the action is easy enough to get into, the game is familiar enough to like, and the total package is compiled well enough without any really glaring problems. This equates to passable enjoyment. That's not to say it couldn't stand to benefit from a few fixes and tweaks.
Here's my wish list...
• Improve the pipe bomb tossing mechanism
• More fluid and effective kicking, specifically, grant that ability when ducking
• Less double-jumping -- more Prince of Persia "realistic" acrobatics
• Out of this World flair and puzzles
• Standard improvements (better graphics, better sound)
Do these, perhaps toss in some clever multiplayer, maybe even a little more emphasis on layering, like what we see in Guardian Heroes or even *shudder* Bug, and the sequel will be quite the winner. Seriously.