Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition Review

Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition PC box art

Let all cannons loose when aliens invade the earth – save the ladies, waste the aliens.


In a near future aliens from outer space invade the earth. Suddenly the entire human race is threatened with extinction – the alien attackers go rampage kidnapping earth’s women and only one man is here to take arms against the intergalactic alien threat. He’s name is Duke Nukem and he’s here to do what he does best – kicking alien ass.

The Game

Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition is what Duke Nukem 3D becomes when you install the official expansion pack called “Plutonium Pak”. It adds eleven new levels with some new interesting locations, a few new monsters and a new weapon. The gameplay is not changed but instead keeps on building on the winning first-person shooter formula that the original set so well.dukenukem3datomic3

Duke Nukem 3D is a truly action-packed first-person shooter. The game is essentially pretty straight-forward – you search for keys to locked doors and kill everything that comes in your way with what ever weapon you happen to find. The objective of each stage is basically to get to the exit. There is great variation in the environments in which the levels take place – you will play in both huge cities (Los Angeles), space stations, canyons and cave systems, underground facilities, a huge shopping mall etc. There is a lot of cool level design to explore here (especially the flooded city in episode three comes to mind!), and killing monsters in chaotic and exotic locations is always entertaining.


If you played the original Duke Nukem 3D, you will see that Atomic Edition adds an entirely new episode to the original story. Regardless if you played the original or not, you can start playing the new episode right away – however if you want to experience the little story there is chronologically you might want to play the episodes in order.

All in all there are 39 levels, including secret levels and multiplayer levels. The single-player campaign is very lengthy and will take a good while to play through, especially the first time around. There are four difficulty levels to play. What’s more, you can play co-op with up to eight players and Duke matches (death matches) too.

As mentioned above, the game itself is jam-packed with monsters to eliminate, but what makes Duke Nukem 3D really stand out is that the levels aren’t quite as linear as they typically are. Instead, you are encouraged to explore the different parts of each level in search for keys or triggers that will open locked doors that hinder your progress. Other than this there is also countless platforming challenges, maze-like layouts and mini-puzzles that you must overcome in order to beat the levels.

The monsters come in various shapes and sizes. The most common monsters are the Assault Troopers. These are two-legged lizard-like creatures armed with laser rifles and jet-packs. They will roam the airspace and shoot you at sight, and their grunting noises can really make your heart race.
Other common monsters are the Pig cops, which are mutated Earth Police Forces. They are extremely aggressive and never hesitate to use their shotguns to pump you full with lead.
All in all there are about eleven different types of monsters you will encounter – each use their own weapons against you, but their AI is very simple – they simply attack and follow you until they die. On top of that there are also four unique bosses.

Luckily Duke has a wide know-how when it comes to using different weapons. There are ten weapons you can find and use in this game. The ones that stand out are the Shrinker, the Microwave Expander and the Freezer. The Shrinker will shrink its target into very small size which you then can trample and instantly kill. The expander works in the opposite way – it will expand your target until the point that it bursts, causing quite a mess. The Freezer is, I assume, the opposite of a flame thrower. It shoots frost crystals that can bounce off of walls and when those hit a target it will freeze into a stiff statue of frozen meat. You can then walk up to it and give it a well placed kick making it scatter into a thousand pieces.
The more standard weapons are the pistol, the shotgun, the Ripper (also known as the chain-gun) and the rocket-propelled grenades. As you can tell, there are some formidable weapons to choose from. Apart from weapons there are some usable items such as jet-packs, portable medkits, armor, night vision goggles, scuba gear etc. that you will use throughout the game.

The game also offers you the tools to build your own levels which opens up a huge community of level designers, which is a very cool and fun aspect of the game. It’s easy to learn how to build levels and if you get into it, you could easily spend hundreds of hours building levels, or even your own campaigns and then play them in co-op! This really gives Duke Nukem 3D a close-to-infinite replay value.

To play multiplayer over TCP/IP you could use some of the third-party add-ons that can be downloaded from the Internet, but standard serial and modem features work out of the box if you’re playing on older computers. Playing this game on the hardest difficulty level in co-op mode is an instant appeal – monsters keep spawning, so you’ll never really out-gun the aliens even if you have gathered a bunch of Dukes to play with! In short, it’s mindless all-out action at its best.


The graphics are outdated by today’s standards as the engine this game uses does not support full 3D, high-definition resolutions or even 3D lights. You can’t play on greater resolutions than 800*600. The textures are low resolution stuff, but the atmosphere that this game delivers is timeless to say the least. And seeing a 200 kilos monster explode into tiny bits after being hit with a RPG rocket will always look awesome. With that said, the game still manages to convey lots of different environments, and you can easily buy into the game world.


The sound really brings you close to the game by very simple means. The background music is moody, dark, and even unsettling. To hear the monsters moan, groan and growl will keep you at the edge of your seat at all times. Not only is Duke armed with weapons, but he also has an arsenal of killer one-liners never to forget like “It’s time to kick ass and chew bubblegum – and I’m all out of gum”. Even after hearing these lines a hundred times they’ll still make you smile.


Duke Nukem 3D with the Plutonium Pak installed is a timeless classic in many ways. It’s extremely fun to play and has many cool and unforgettable moments. The Duke Nukem universe is very epic – not only is there a huge single-player campaign to play through, but also a level editor to play with and a host of user-generated levels that you can download from various websites.
The concept is simple and yet so true to its core – this is mindless action at its best!

Developed By: 3D Realms
Published By:
Apogee Software
Version Reviewed:
DOS / Windows PC
First-Person Shooter
Players: 1-
Released: 1996-01-29

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