April 29, 1999

Duke Nukem: Zero Hour Insider Preview

Our own Keith Schuler today updated his .plan file with some information about Duke Nukem: Zero
. He's been heavily involved with the final testing (no, it's not done yet despite what you might hear on some sitew), and had a lot to say about the game and what he's been playing. Take a look...

For the past couple of weeks I have spent much of my free time helping George to play, review, and suggest final design tweaks to Duke's latest foray on the N64, Duke Nukem: Zero Hour. What began many months ago as a port of the Playstation hit, Duke Nukem: Time To Kill, has evolved into an entirely unique game, unlike any other Duke Nukem game ever made. The guys at Eurocomm deserve a cheer and a pat on the back for all their hard work and single minded dedication. They have created what is, in my opinion, the best game for the Nintendo 64 since the release of Zelda 64. It will no doubt become one of the best 3rd person "run 'n' gun" games available for any system.

The game begins with Duke in the present day Earth Defense Force compound in New York City, receiving an urgent message on the video monitor. The message is from none other than himself, trapped somewhere in Earth's past. Aliens have travelled back in time to mess up key points in Earth's history. Duke went back in time to fight them, but along the way his time machine was destroyed, and unless the present day Duke travels through time and collects the pieces of the broken time machine, the future will forever be altered by the aliens' evil plot.

So begins Duke's greatest adventure yet. Before he is done he will visit many facinating places, including post-apocalyptic New York City, Fort Roswell (where Area 51 now stands), and a Waterworld-esque man made atoll. He will fly high on the Hindenburg and sink with the Titanic. He will meet interesting people, including General Custer and Jack The Ripper.

Not just another great game, Duke Nukem:Zero Hour is also a feat of technical wizardry for the Nintendo 64. The game resides on a 32Mb cartridge, the largest currently available, and I have no doubt they used every last bit of that memory. Here are some of the amazing things this game accomplishes:

* It has more speech than any other N64 title, and the most speech of any Duke Nukem game on any system. Duke has something different to say for every occasion throughout the gameplay and cinematics. The other characters have plenty to say as well.
* The areas Duke visits are truly vast, and thanks to ingenious programming by the folks at Eurocomm, you won't ever see a foggy clipping plane. These worlds just stretch out seemingly forever.
* The variety of levels is nothing short of incredible. You get to visit New York City in three different time periods, as well as the Old West, Victorian England, and an alien mothership. The adventure spans across eighteen levels, most of which are huge. They are all re-entrant, allowing you to go back and find those secrets you missed the first time through. Even the most skilled players will enjoy 20 hours of gameplay or more.
* The graphics are varied and beautiful. All of the time zones are littered with countless posters, signs, pictures, and decorations, full of both useful information and gags. The enemies also wear costumes appropriate to their respective time zones. If you have the RAM Expansion Pak for your N64, you can play the game with high-res textures, making it even more of a visual treat.
* The control scheme is brilliant. There was a slight learning curve, but once I grew used to the controls, I found I could move around, aim, and circle strafe with all the ease of a mouse.
* Multiplayer "Dukematch" is included for up to four players.
* Eurocomm has included support for the Rumble Pak and, as I stated above, the RAM Expansion Pak. You can save your game progress on the Memory Card that plugs into your controller.

Duke Nukem: Zero Hour should hit the shelves sometime during the next couple of months. I highly recommend it. Those of you starved for some Duke action should pick this title up and check it out. It's just the fix you need until Duke Nukem Forever ships.

Posted by Joe Siegler on April 29, 1999 at 1:00 PM | Permalink
News Categories: Console Games