Duke Nukem: Critical Mass

It's time to chew ass and kick bubble gum. Wait, what?

By Daavpuke, Posted 29 Apr 2011


"When all else fails, Duke doesn't!" What game were they playing?

Duke Nukem is finally back! Praise Jezus or Satan or whoever fits the title best, but our blonde muscle misogynist has finally risen after years of absence. In the first of a trilogy deal with Apogee Software, Deep Silver released Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (DNCM) right on time to fire people up for the impending Duke Nukem Forever release. The year 2011 is the year of the Duke, baby!

NoobFeed Review - Duke Nukem Critical Mass DS
They'll have you believe that this is what Duke Nukem Critical Mass will look like.

In an inconsistent story of aliens and robots taking over the future, Duke is sent in to retrieve fusion cells and defeat the evil Dr. Proton. And right off the bat things go to the crapper, as the first cutscenes are mind-bogglingly heinous and will serve as precedence towards the entire game. The horrid graphics are recalling of a bad Nintendo 64 game at their best and even reminding of block-wonder Minecraft at times. This is extensively annoying as the scenery often blocks the view from the ever-present enemy threat. But most of all, it’s the pitch dark screen that makes any movement impossible, even in the most bright possible position. Constantly having to guess where ladders or platforms are is a huge bummer, but it doesn’t stop there.

Exacerbating it all with barely present animations and little to no effects, gunplay sees Duke extend his arm like a Kung-Fu grip action figure and the impact is literally a blurred pixel on the non-moving enemy. There are babes to be found and rescued in this horrible mess and those reward Duke with a dance straight from The Sims. And to top it off, all sound is repetitive and flat, even if the Vegas level has some swanky tunes. Guns sound like firecrackers and all the true charm of the Duke’s one-liners is lost in this sad loop. DNCM wins no points for style, which is a terrible premise to build on.

NoobFeed Review - Duke Nukem Critical Mass DS
Even the canned PSP screens (in gallery) looked pretty awesome. Why was this canned?

And DNCM follows this with a matching gameplay, being something lackluster at its highest level and atrocious anywhere else. With its 2D action platforming, this game is more of a throwback towards the original Duke Nukem games and not the 3D kind one might think. That’s not a problem however; the problem is that a haphazard level design and shoddy visuals makes for unpleasant and severely hindered platforming. Levels look like they’re designed at random and thus roaming around to find secrets and unlock specials is never an incentive, barring the fact that the specials are dreadful themselves. However, the 2.5D aspect does offer one glimmer of light on this fiasco and is almost up to par. There’s also a zoomed in sequence for Snipe mode which is pretty intuitive for a handheld, with aiming present on the touch screen.

Anything else is drivel. The horrible controls for action render any pleasure void, with terrible gunfights for example, chosen from an equally horrible panel. Guns, each more generic than the last, must be selected on a moving reel on the touch screen and scrolled through to the appropriate, generic icon. This is generally hard, but impossible during the extremely anticlimactic and least satisfying boss fights ever. During stages, Duke can duck and lean for cover using up and down, but as those buttons are also used for ladders and such, this will lead to random moments of pure frustration. The list goes on with terrible jetpack shooter sequences and the most messed up Quick Time Events ever created.  A power-up board on the touch screen offers temporary advantages to Duke, but can be dismissed all together, certainly since kicking in itself is already useless and ammo is everywhere.

NoobFeed Review - Duke Nukem Critical Mass DS
This is what we're actualy left with, complete with ridiculous boss fights and horrid graphics.

Luckily, there’s a redeeming quality to DNCM and that is that there’s at least a decent amount of crappy content. Retrieving the 8 fusion cells takes Duke through a wide variety of large settings all around the world and even if they’re heinous, it’s at least a change of pace.  The game also regularly switches modes up for additional diversity.  But nothing can change the fact that this game is laughable and an insult towards fans.

It should’ve been clear when suddenly development went completely awry, the Duke brand was switched to Extraction Point: Alien Shootout and canned on PSP to save face. Duke Nukem: Critical Mass is not a good game; in fact it’s quite horrible. The horrid graphics, sound and frustrating controls, complete with unpleasant fights and gameplay make this game a disappointment, even for the most dedicated fan. It has a glimpse of something that could’ve been, but then destroys any hope of that with a barrage of ugly features. It’s rare to see Deep Silver drop the ball, especially since you always bet on Duke, but this seems like one bet the Duke has lost.

Gallery (11)

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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  • poor, poor duke!  =[



    Once a legendary godfather of gaming is now just a washed up re-run!?  Duke will be back, just another set back besides the whole duke nukem forever contriversy.


    Posted Sep 19, 2011

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General Information

Platform(s): 3DS
Publisher(s): Deep Silver
Developer(s): Apogee Software
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Platformer
Release Date: 2011-04-08

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