Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour PS4 Review

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is a first-person shooter game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 with a limited retail release at GameStop stores. Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is an enhanced version including the retro classic Duke Nukem 3D which was originally released on January 29th 1996 and an all-new episode having been brought to the PS4 by Gearbox Software. Duke Nukem 3D was originally developed by the legendary 3D Realms who have been developing, publishing, producing and licensing videogames as early as 1986 under their original company name Apogee Software with the first appearance of Duke Nukem being in the side scrolling platformer Duke Nukem which released on July 1st 1991 for PC. As a gamer who has played Duke Nukem 3D since it was released on PS1 in December 1997; I have always had fond memories of the series particularly from Duke Nukem 3D, but can Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour deliver the ultimate release of Duke Nukem 3D that fans deserve?

The story revolves around Duke Nukem saving the Earth from an alien invasion only in comic fashion for them to invade again as soon as he attempts to get some rest as they blast a sizable tear through the hull of his cruiser causing him to eject and take the fight to the alien race in Los Angeles in an attempt to save the entire planet and the population of the human race for what Duke Nukem hopes to be the final battle.

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is a compilation of Duke Nukem 3D content including the 4 officially released episodes from the Atomic Edition called L.A. Meltdown, Lunar Apocalypse, Shrapnel City and The Birth with The Birth having never released on PS1, while also featuring a brand new episode titled Alien World Order totalling to 5 episodes spanning 40 levels and 8 secret levels which can be reached in single player by finding an alternative exit from certain levels. However, it unfortunately does not include the 3 further episodes included in the Megaton Edition that released on PC which never made it to the PS1 in the form of Duke Caribbean: Life’s a Beach, Duke It Out in D.C. and Duke: Nuclear Winter, while also not containing the PS1 exclusive episode Plug ‘N’ Pray.

The new episode titled Alien World Order contains eight new levels created by the original level designers Allen H. Blum III and Richard “Levelord” Gray which sees Duke Nukem visiting locations across major cities and landmarks throughout the world including Amsterdam, London, the Golden Gate Bridge and much more besides. A real standout in relation to the environment design has to be the Mirage Barrage level from the new episode which is rather ambitious in its approach as it contains an outdoor maze based upon the real ruins of the Giza Pyramid, while the interior is authentically based upon the Great Pyramid of Khufu, while also taking inspiration from The Fifth Element and Stargate SG-1.

There are a vast range of weapons with a standout being the new incinerator which fires projectile flames at enemies that will damage them for a few seconds after making contact and can be found in the final episode. The first weapon available is Duke Nukem’s mighty foot which is perfect for when you have run out of ammo and find yourself in close quarters combat with an enemy; a pistol is technically the weapon of Duke Nukem’s choice as it is the weapon that he starts out with; a shotgun which is perfect for close range attacks; a ripper is a rapid fire chaingun; and an RPG is a rocket propelled grenade which is capable of causing a lot of damage from close or long range distances with a single shot. Pipe bombs are ideal to aim close to a group of enemies and running away from them followed by remote detonation to kill as many enemies as possible without even being within their field of vision to shoot back; the devastator is the most powerful weapon as it rapidly fires rockets, while tripbombs can be attached to any flat service which will explode if the laser beam it produces is ever tripped and can be used to provide a trap for enemies within darkly lit areas. A freezer shoots orbs of ice which temporarily freezes an enemy until they have thawed out, although for the period of time that an enemy is frozen it is no longer a threat and can be dealt with easily; a shrinker is alien weaponry purpose built to temporarily shrink an enemy to two inches in size in order for them to be stepped on like a bug or to access new areas; and a microwave expander which uses the same weapon as the shrinker, but with a different set of ammo as instead of shrinking enemies the microwave expander makes an enemy inflate outwards until they explode which also causes damage to anyone standing within a close vicinity.

There is also a range of gadgets including a portable medkit for emergencies when Duke Nukem is running low on health; a jetpack which allows exploration of areas that are of an increased elevation, while simultaneously providing you with an aerial advantage over enemies as it becomes harder for them to shoot accurately; a pair of night vision goggles to see clearly in darkly lit areas; and steroids to provide an immediate speed boost and to return shrunken players to their normal size. Further gadgets include protective boots to protect the player from certain hazardous materials; holoduke projects a hologrammatic image of Duke Nukem reminiscent to that of Total Recall, although it is best used in online competitive multiplayer to fool human opponents as the in-game A.I. enemies tend to immediately detect and attack the real Duke Nukem; scuba gear to provide a limited amount of air for underwater exploration; and more besides.

Character design is excellent as Duke Nukem is the ultimate muscle bound world saving hero, while the enemies have a wide variation and complexity that you do not see in even some modern games. The new episode introduces a new enemy called Firefly troopers that are equipped with the incinerator, while also possessing the ability to shrink its size to increase the possibility of sneaking up on you without you ever seeing it until it starts attacking, although Firefly troopers also have jetpacks to provide an aerial advantage. Assault troopers are the most common enemy, but do not let that fool you as the assault troopers are reliably armed with laser blasters and a jetpack to provide an aerial advantage while simultaneously making them all the more difficult to shoot, although assault captains have the same characteristics but lead the assault troopers into battle and can only be distinguished by their red armour. The range of enemies continues with pig cops who have mutated from LAPD officers as they still wear their uniforms and armour as well as being armed with shotguns and cunning tactics as they tend to drop to the ground on occasions as they shoot in order to reduce the chances of you shooting them. Assault enforcers are the space equivalent of pig cops as they are just as deadly with their ripper and venomous spit while looking closer to dinosaurs instead of pigs, although it does have a distraction that it has to take care of on occasion that proves to be its major flaw. The appropriately named octabrain is half brain, half octopus with menacing eyes and teeth that will attempt to surprise from the shadows on land and particularly underwater, while sharks are the only enemies that will attack Duke Nukem because they want to attack as predators despite not being part of the alien invasion. A further range of enemies include assault commanders, mini battlelords, recon patrol vehicles manned by pig cops, turrets, sentry drones, enemy bosses and much more besides.

Environment design consists of many different settings throughout the game such as the streets of Los Angeles; a cinema; apartments; sewers; a prison; a spaceport including amazing views of the Earth, moon and sun; a restaurant; a movie set; and much more besides, while you should be on the look out for the auto destruct level exit symbol; although when you find that you may want to keep on exploring as there are secret passages and on some levels there is an alternative auto destruct symbol that provides access to a secret level. Levels tend to consist of keycard access panels in which you will have to find a certain colour of keycard in a particular location of the level and then match that up with the corresponding colour of keycard access panel in order to open the door; there are a variety of designs for switches consisting of a single switch throughout various areas of a level and combo switches are a set of 3 switches that require the appropriate combination to open the door or trigger a reaction elsewhere in the level such as an environmental change in which the height of water increases or decreases to allow access to a new area. Firing an RPG or detonating a pipe bomb next to cracked walls will always reveal a new path or a secret path; and there are some explosive objects such as toxic barrels that may produce a new area. Further attempts at complete exploration includes shooting off grills in order for you to enter air ducts to find a new area or a quick passage from one explored area to another which can come in handy when looking to find a keycard access panel after having found the required keycard; standing on teleportation devices in order to access a new area; and even accessing monitors to see different areas of a level that remain ahead of you.

There is an interesting playback feature which can be utilised when respawning as you can rewind to any specific period of time from within the duration you have been playing that particular level for in order to resume from a time when you had a greater preferred amount of ammo and health which is a great design choice as it provides a more user friendly and unique take on saving your progress regularly. However, the user clips feature from the Megaton Edition has unfortunately not been retained resulting in players not being allowed to view a replay of an entire level and actually resume playing a level from any given moment throughout the duration of the user clip after they have finished playing it, while the community interaction of sharing your clips with players from around the world is another interesting element of Megaton Edition that has not made the cut in this version of the game.

Statistics are only displayed after a level has been completed comprising of your level completion time, par level completion time, 3D Realms level completion time, the amount of enemies killed, the amount of enemies left, the amount of secrets found and the amount of secrets missed. There are no longer meta scores after each level, while there are also no multiple sets of statistics available directly from the menu; despite them previously being a great design choice in Megaton Edition as they provided the player with such important information regarding the amount of secrets they were yet to find, the amount of enemies that had evaded you, a simple reminder of which levels had been completed in single player or online multiplayer, their best score for each level and how close they were towards a particular trophy.

An interesting part of World Tour is the all-new developer commentary from Allen H. Blum III and Richard “Levelord” Gray which is not a running commentary, but instead a snippet of audio attached to an icon that produces commentary covering a specific area or element within the level, while also mentioning inspirations behind important areas of levels and gameplay elements as well as comparing the limitations of the engine during the original development process in comparison to developing the eight new levels for the new episode. Quite surprisingly for a 20th anniversary edition of Duke Nukem 3D; there is no unlockable concept art which is something you would absolutely expect from a celebration of an important part of a series. In contrast to the lack of concept art; Megaton Edition contained an entire art gallery including 22 drawings captioned with a story of the thought process behind each drawing which was unlocked as you completed any 22 levels and provided excellent fan service to everyone who has ever enjoyed the Duke Nukem series.

There is a varying degree of humour ranging from funny to adult with a reference on the iconic front cover of Duke Nukem 3D which sees Duke Nukem in a similar pose to Ash from Evil Dead, while further Evil Dead references include Duke proclaiming “Hail to the king, baby” and “Groovy!”. There are such phrases as, “It’s time to kick ass and chew bubblegum…And I’m all outta bubblegum!” based upon Roddy Piper’s one-liner from the film They Live, “Come get some!”, “Let’s rock”, “Where is it?” when unsuccessfully searching for a secret passage or room, if the player waits around for a few moments Duke will shout, “What are you waitin’ for…Christmas?!” and “Damn! I’m lookin’ good!” when looking in the mirror are just some of the humorous wisecracks that Duke Nukem will produce during gameplay. Opening the curtains on a cinema screen or booth will result in an adult film being played. There is even a Mission Impossible themed level with a cassette player that should you interact with it will play a recording of a man saying, “This tape will self-destruct…in 1 second!” which it does so in spectacular fashion. There are also a variety of Easter Eggs included in World Tour relating to Doom, Serious Sam and even Luke Skywalker which are hidden away in secret areas in which you will really need to search for them.

It is genuinely disappointing to not see a Vita version of Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour to replace the removal of the previously cross-buy and cross-save Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition on Vita and PS3. Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version, while the control scheme has been optimised, although not necessarily to the best of its ability. The default control scheme during remote play re-maps shooting from R2 to the top right of the touch screen, Duke’s mighty foot moves from R3 to the bottom right of the touch screen and running is re-mapped from holding L2 to the top left of the touch screen. This results in a less than comfortable control scheme as you are aiming with the right analogue stick yet shooting with the top right of the touch screen that may cause a moment of hesitation between the two actions which can also be stated for the movement with the left analogue stick while attempting to simultaneously run with the top left of the touch screen. I had the best remote play experience with Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour after customising the control scheme in which shooting was re-mapped to R1 with running moving to L1, Duke’s mighty foot mapped to the top right of the touch screen as it is not used as regularly as shooting, running and changing weaponry, while tapping the bottom right or left of the touch screen to cycle through to the next or previous weapon respectively as the bottom of the touch screen is a lot closer to the analogue sticks resulting in a far more comfortable control scheme than the optimised remote play control scheme.

The controls handle more along the lines of a modern first-person shooter as the DualShock 4 controller has dual analogue sticks and a touch pad, whereas the original PS1 controller only had the d-pad to provide movement for your character. The control scheme is fully customisable, while there are also options for look sensitivity and inverting your aim, although the ability to swap the analogue sticks for moving and aiming contained within the Megaton Edition is not present in World Tour. The control scheme consists of pressing R2 to fire; pressing R3 to kick; pressing R1 or L1 to cycle through to the next or previous weapon respectively; holding L2 to run; pressing X to jump; pressing square to use or interact with an object; pressing O to crouch; pressing triangle to use an inventory item; pressing right or left on the d-pad to cycle through to the next or previous inventory item respectively; pressing up on the d-pad to toggle between the map being off and the two different types of map; pressing down on the d-pad to toggle between the new true 3D rendering and the original graphics; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.

Tapping the touch pad displays the scoreboard in online multiplayer, while the DualShock 4 controller vibrates for the duration of when Duke Nukem falls from a distant height, when he is underwater and his scuba gear has depleted, when he is shot by an enemy or is killed and a variety of other situations. There is no light bar implementation which could have been utilised to display the current status of Duke Nukem’s health such as producing green when Duke has 75% to full health, yellow for 51% to 74% health, orange for 26% to 50% health, red for 11% to 25% health and flashing red for 0% to 10% health.

Graphically, World Tour provides players with the ability to switch between the original graphics and an all-new true 3D re-mastering of the original 2.5D engine from the 1996 source code with new lighting effects, while preserving the charming retro style which unquestionably established Duke Nukem 3D alongside its gameplay as a cult classic hit.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, single player menus, online multiplayer menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The background of the menu screens consists of an outline of the Duke Nukem symbol complimented by the Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour logo.

The voice-over cast stars Jon St. John as the voice of Duke Nukem in a performance that provides many fun one-liners, while Jon St. John has also recorded new dialogue as well as high-fidelity re-recordings for World Tour which is perfectly accompanied as far as fan service goes by a developer commentary from the original level designers. Jon St. John has also voiced the character in every Duke Nukem game since Duke Nukem 3D originally released in 1996 as well as various characters including Big the Cat, Chaos Gamma and E-123 Omega in many Sonic games and the lead character John Rochard in Rochard, amongst many more videogame voice-overs. The sound effects include Duke Nukem firing his guns at enemies and enemies firing back, explosions, reloading weapons, grunts from alien pigs and screams from aliens you have killed as well as key card activations, pushing switches, opening doors, flowing water and collecting medikits, weapons and more besides. The music includes the iconic Duke Nukem metal theme called Grabbag which was written by Lee Jackson, while new songs have also been composed and recorded by Lee Jackson for the new episode. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which would have been perfect for producing the developer commentary.

However, the emphasis was not just placed on the main theme as there is also a rather large soundtrack beyond the theme which is progressively established with an original piece of music for each level throughout the entire game. The title theme went on to become so popular that it even inspired an entire 12 track album rather amusingly titled Duke Nukem: Music to Score By which was released on August 24th 1999 via Red Ink Records. The soundtrack album included a cover of Grabbag by none other than Megadeth and featured heavy metal songs from Coal Chamber, Corrosion of Conformity, Megadeth, Sevendust, Slayer and Type O Negative as well as rock music from Stabbing Westward and Zebrahead, alongside hip hop music from The Beatnuts, Wu-Tang Clan and Xzibit. Duke Nukem: Music to Score By was a major breakthrough for videogame soundtracks as it also features 175MB worth of Duke Nukem themed promotional materials such as an interactive strategy guide, shareware, audio samples from Duke Nukem: Time to Kill on PS1, Duke Nukem: Zero Hour on Nintendo 64 and even audio from the unreleased original PC version of Duke Nukem Forever and much more besides, therefore appealing to both the gamer with interactive materials and the music lover with a strong soundtrack spanning 3 genres.

The trophy list includes 28 trophies with 10 bronze trophies, 11 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Shake It, Baby bronze trophy for tipping an exotic dancer; the It Happens bronze trophy for stepping in a pile of excrement; the All Too Easy bronze trophy for finding a secret area; the That’s What She Said bronze trophy for listening to developer commentary by using at least one commentary icon; and the Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em bronze trophy for using the new Incinerator weapon during the fifth episode. Harder trophies include the See I’m Tough Too silver trophy for completing any level on Damn, I’m Good difficulty and the Nukem All gold trophy for killing 5 bad guys with one shot. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.

There are 4 difficulty levels including piece of cake, let’s rock, come get some and damn I’m good with the major differences between each difficulty level being gradually more aware and active enemies with some of them using their jetpacks to gain an aerial advantage when looking for your location. On the hardest difficulty level titled Damn, I’m Good; you can expect many enemies to randomly port into the area you are located within or even directly nearby to provide a sudden surprise by bombarding you with simultaneous fire. On harder difficulty levels; enemies will receive less damage for every shot you fire at them, although they do inflict more damage for every shot they fire at you; therefore you will have to be far more careful and more tactical when approaching any given enemy.

There is no split-screen competitive or co-operative multiplayer which is rather disappointing considering that the censored port of Duke Nukem 3D on Nintendo 64 from 1997 contained 4 player split-screen competitive multiplayer and two player split-screen co-operative multiplayer. However, the online competitive multiplayer offers up a frantic deathmatch for 2 to 8 players called a Dukematch which allows players to battle it out in a total of 48 arenas spanning 5 episodes worth of single player levels. Players compete until a player has reached the set frag limit of 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 or unlimited kills in which it would be based upon the highest amount of kills within the 1 minute, 5, 10, 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes time limit, although there is also an unlimited time limit for a set amount of kills. A further variant on Dukematch is the ability to have a competitive multiplayer match against up to 7 bots set to any of the 4 difficulty levels. Megaton Edition contained an option for adding monsters roaming around the levels during the match set to any of the 4 difficulty levels which provided an excellent customisable gameplay element, although that is also missing from World Tour.

There is also online co-operative multiplayer for 2 to 8 players spanning 5 episodes worth of single player levels across 48 levels with a friendly fire option to increase the amount of fun. After any competitive or co-operative multiplayer round has been completed; everyone participating in the match is kicked back to the main menu without being able to remain within the lobby. Another omission is the lack of online leaderboards, despite Megaton Edition containing an incredible 133 online leaderboards covering single player, time trial and Dukematch even before 3 filters are factored in. Given that the PC versions of Duke Nukem 3D since its original release has supported mods leading to the creation of hundreds, if not thousands of mods producing all manner of expansions from all-new levels to graphics packs; it is surprising to still not see mods supported on a home console release of Duke Nukem 3D, especially when considering how expertly Unreal Tournament 3 on PS3 provided unlimited replay value through a sensational quantity of game changing mods.

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour’s replayability is certainly not just limited to retro nostalgia, although it is a big part of the release, but the main hook for fans of the Duke Nukem series will be the new episode containing eight new levels with a total of five episodes spanning 48 levels, alongside online competitive and co-operative multiplayer and more besides collectively bringing you back for more, although the replay value is particularly emphasised in single player.



  • Title: Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour
  • Developer: Gearbox Software
  • Publisher: Gearbox Software
  • System: PS4
  • Format: PSN Download/Limited Retail
  • Cross-Buy: No
  • Cross-Play: No
  • Players: 1-8 (Online Competitive and Co-operative Multiplayer)
  • PS4 Hard Drive Space Required: 1GB (Version 1.01)


Jason plays all genres of games and enjoys all different kinds of experiences that the games industry has to offer. Jason’s favourite PlayStation exclusive franchises throughout various eras include: Crash Bandicoot, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFamous, Killzone, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Resistance, Spyro the Dragon, Uncharted, Wipeout and various games that never became big name franchises. A special mention goes to Black Rock’s superb Split Second: Velocity as it is rather unbelievable that it will never receive a sequel.Jason now mainly plays modern PlayStation games on home console and portably, but occasionally returns to the old retro classics on the 3DO, PS1 and PS2 such as discovering Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood 20 years after its original release on PS1. Jason is happy to see gaming coming full circle with updates for retro classics such as Alien Breed, Superfrog and Crash Bandicoot.

So what do you think?

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