Comin' To Get the Rest of Those Alien Bastards - Episode 4: The Birth
Well, here we are. The end of the final episode of this long and epic journey through one of the defining classics of gaming history. This is the final episode of Duke 3D. Some time after Shrapnel City, Duke is tasked with killing the Alien Queen, who's been pumping out Protector Drones like crazy.
Now the big thing that becomes obvious quickly is that the levels aren't nearly as thematically consistent in this episode. After a silly Mission Impossible-themed level, Duke goes damned near everywhere, making stops at venues including (but not limited to) the Duke Burger restaurant, a porno studio, comedy club, grocery store, an oil rig, and eventually an overrun base leading to the cave where the Queen resides. The scenery is wildly divergent, just barely more thematically even than Duke Nukem Forever, but unlike DNF, the game suffers from "feast and famine" issues. In some levels, ammo and items are easy to find, practically all over the place, while in others, ammo and item hunting can be an exercise in frustration, especially with some of the especially large levels like Derelict. This is especially an issue since the Protector Drones are among the most tenacious enemies in the game and there are now Pig Cops in machine-gun-mounted tanks, which results in massive ammo drain more often than not.
The boss battle at the end is especially challenging, It's neigh-impossible to have scuba gear by the end of the level, and the boss battle takes place underwater, with only some small gaps at the roof for air. There's ammo and health scattered, so it shouldn't be too hard to have the tools for the job, but since the Queen is still giving birth constantly even while fighting, it's imperative to unload high-caliber ammo at her as quickly as possible before the sea is filled with Protector Drones, who are the main attack for the Queen (though she can also electrocute the water for a few seconds every so often. The boss battle is a challenge, make no mistake, but damn is it rewarding when it's done. And in what can only be seen as tragic in 2011, this screen is shown after the ending.
In general, the game holds up to modern play. While the key-card hunting can be a bit of a pain in the ass and items can be a bit hard to find, the colorful, crazy environments and loads of enemies are more than worth dealing with the game's shortcomings. The action is fast and furious, accompanied by catchy music and raunchy humor. Duke Nukem 3D, while not a perfect game, is worth space in anyone's library, and a far better game than Duke Nukem Forever could ever hope to be.