by Chris Capel
reviewed on NDS
Your Face, Your Ass, What’s The Difference?
Why not just have a few weapons that are easy to manage? The touchscreen is mostly empty and unused too, so what about putting all the weapons on-screen at once? They’re only small icons, so they’re hard to press too – or recognise. How are you supposed to tell the difference between your normal pistol and a laser pistol in a hurry?
Even more ridiculously if you haven’t yet found a certain weapon, its space in the loadout is represented by a question mark. These question marks are tied to particular weapons, so when you pick up the laser pistol you have to scroll past about four empty weapon slots to select it! The likelihood is that out of the five weapon slots, two will be question marks. I can’t think of a more ill-thought-out weapons selection system on any console.
Then there is vision, or lack thereof. The camera in the platforming section is far too close. Enemies can see and shoot at Duke long before you see them on screen, in fact they’re literally within kicking distance by the time you can see them. This can be dealt with by holding down the R button to tilt the screen right, which is very useful until enemies start teleporting in behind Duke and you can’t see them at all.
Now I’m Really Pissed Off
All of which is frustrating, because the other mode types are actually okay. The third-person shooter boss battles work quite well (apart from not being able to select the weapon you want, ever), which is not surprising given that the PSP Duke Nukem game was supposed to be a Third-Person shooter – so presumably they’ve been taken from that cancelled game. This would explain why Duke calls a couple of the bosses “Morphix”, the main villain from Manhattan Project, even though he makes no other appearance here.
Occasional jetpack levels play like a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, which are simple but fun enough. This is probably attributable to the fact that there are only two weapons, something that the rest of the game really could have benefited from. More doesn’t always mean better, Frontline.
The First-Person sniper rifle and cover shooting sections are merely optional asides to the platforming and make a nice change of pace. They’re not brilliant, but they’re so brief it doesn’t really matter.
Who Wants Some?
Duke Nukem: Critical Mass had the potential to be a fun little game in-between waiting forever for Forever. Somewhere along the way it got spoilt. The game can be fairly fun when it works and has nice range of gameplay types to keep things interesting, but there’s just too much wrong to recommend. It’s unfinished, bug-ridden, crash-prone, shoddily animated and feels cobbled together from various sources.
If you are an obsessive Duke fan desperate for a portable fix, you’ll probably be able to string some enjoyment out of this game. If not, then I recommend you give this a pass. Either way, don’t bet on this Duke. If this is the first part of a trilogy, a lot of things need to improve. Fast.
Okay when it works, jetpack mode isn't bad, it's Duke!
A bug-ridden mess, terrible interface, camera too close to see anything.