Review by KFHEWUI
"An average game that tries to mix different game styles, but fails to make each mode interesting"
Duke Nukem Critical Mass is the start of a trilogy for the Nintendo DS.
The EDF has created a time vortex generator, and they sent an agent into the future. When the agent failed to return, a team was sent after the agent, and they did not return, Duke Nukem was selected to find the team and agent. Duke Nukem arrives in the future and discovers that aliens have invaded Earth, and Duke must fight the alien scum while trying to find out what happened to the agent and team.
The story telling is decent, and it does have a few twists that are good. Duke Nukem's one liners in this game are not that great, and there are not a lot which leads to Duke repeating the same one liner which gets old quickly.
The controls are decent, but there are several different control schemes in the game since the game combines five different game types. The controls are good for the most part, but the sniping controls feel over sensitive and makes aiming difficult.
The graphics are a mix bag, and they are decent overall. The modeling is okay, but the characters look blocky. The textures look awful, and most of the enemies are a mystery thanks to their texture. Even the babes look bad, and the pig cops look awful. The backgrounds are terrible and are heavily pixelated.
The music is mostly hard rock, and it is completely forgettable except for the theme song. The sound effects are average, and the voice acting is passable. Jon St. Jon returns to voice Duke.
The game play is mainly a 2.5D action/adventure game similar to Duke Nukem Manhattan Project with jet packs, sniping sequences, and cover system however the main bulk of the game is controlling Duke as he goes from point a to point b. The big problem with this is that the camera only allows the player to see very little forward, but holding R will allowing the player to see more forward however enemies can warp in at any time so if enemies warp behind Duke while the player is holding R then it leaves a blind spot.
In the first level there are alleyways with enemies, and to kill them players must go into cover near the alleyway which causes a cursor to appear. The problem with the cover system is that it leaves Duke open to enemies that are on the same plane as him. This is pointless since a pipe bomb will also work on the enemies in alleyways. Sometimes there will be items in the alleyway, and it took me some time to figure out how to get the items. When Duke is in cover of the alleyway, hitting R will have Duke move to cover in the alleyway.
In some levels there are sniper sequences that are decent, but have some problems. The first is the controls and the D-Pad feels over sensitive which makes aiming tough. The touch screen can be used, and it is better than the D-Pad however A is used for firing so this is good for left handed people. Some of the enemies can be difficult to spot in the backgrounds, and the hit detection can be questionable.
The next game play introduced is the vertical scrolling sequences, and they are ultimately boring due to lack of difficulty. In these sequences, Duke loses fuel when he is hit, and if his fuel hits zero, he dies. Thankfully this is not a big problem since there is an overabundance of fuel. While most of the side scrolling levels are short, a few of them are long and drag on for way too long.
Every few levels there is a boss fight, and the boss fights take place in an open arena with an over the shoulder camera. The D-Pad moves Duke while A, B, X, and Y move the cursor, and the boss battles are not that bad however there is one boss fight I must talk about. The first time I fought the Egypt boss, I had to restart the battle five times because the boss kept on disappearing and never reappearing however I eventually stumbled by pure accident why the boss was disappearing. At the beginning of the level is a door and going through the door will lead to a second arena, and this is the only boss fight that is like this. If it were not for pure luck, I would still be saying this battle is glitchy.
Also the game does feature a few QTEs and ultimately they feel out of place and pointless. Some bosses will start a QTE when they lose half their health and pressing the button will end the battle automatically. There are also a few QTEs scattered through the game that are not in the boss fight, and they feel pointless.
One area where the game does not come up short is the weapons, and there are a lot of weapons including pistol, shotgun, machine gun, chain gun, rocket launcher, and even alien weapons.
The game does have a few technical issues like crashing which I encountered numerous times when grabbing the sniper rifle.
The replay value is moderate and besides replaying the game there are accomplishments and pictures of babes to unlock. Most of the accomplishments are not that bad with the exception of @$$ kicker which is very difficult. Duke must kill ten enemies with the mighty boot without taking any damage which is no easy feat. The instruction manual also says that it can be done in the jet pack sequences however I have not had it unlock this way despite numerous attempts. The game also has Co-op however it requires having two copies of the game, and just finding a single copy was difficult enough. Finding someone with a copy of the game that lives nearby is even tougher especially since it works best if the DS are within 33 feet of each other.
Duke Nukem: Critical Mass is an average game and while the game play is not bad, it is just generic and forgettable. With a little more polish this could have been a great series and hopefully the trilogy will be completed, but at this time, it looks this will be another unfinished trilogy.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 06/11/12, Updated 04/29/13
Game Release: Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (US, 06/06/11)
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