It’s widely known that Duke Nukem Forever received a lot of criticism at launch, some of it justified and plenty of it delivered out of spite. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, and the fact that the videogame still has a healthy online community more than six months after release shouts volumes about the appreciation for the title from the intended audience. It may have issues, but it sure is fun. Sadly, the first downloadable content (DLC) pack for Duke Nukem Forever, Hail to the Icons Parody Pack, didn’t quite offer the value for money fans had been hoping for, and so it’s the turn of the second pack, The Doctor Who Cloned Me, to right those wrongs.
Duke Nukem Forever: The Doctor Who Cloned Me is clearly an experiment in DLC delivery. The idea of DLC on consoles is still relatively new and most publishers are still trying to find their feet; trying to decipher exactly what the market is willing to pay for, and how much they will pay for it. Whereas the Hail to the Icons Parody Pack was purely a multiplayer addition, for the same price The Doctor Who Cloned Me adds both new multiplayer maps and an entirely new single-player campaign to Duke Nukem Forever. Weighing in at 3.22 GB, it’s a substantial slice of first-person shooter (FPS) action.
The Doctor Who Cloned Me does continue from the main Duke Nukem Forever campaign, delivering a brief flashback before the player awakens tied to a chair in some sort of facility. Of course, it’s not long before Duke is back on his feet, taking the fight to the enemy with his usual flair and chauvinistic wit. And just as quickly as he gets ready to “blow sh*t up”, the player is forced to think beyond a simple case of aim and fire. This is still a Duke Nukem experience after all: a subtle blend of dexterity challenges, lateral thinking and extreme violence.
The single-player campaign introduces two new weapons, the Expander and the Impregnator. The Expander is the more imaginative of the two, expanding enemies causing them to bust out of their armour and slowing them down. The Impregnator is a repeater weapon that kills most enemies with a single blow, though the timing of its shots is just awkward enough to prevent it from becoming overpowered.
The level design is somewhat erratic, flitting between corridor puzzles and wide open combat spaces, and then marring it all with difficulty spikes and sections wherein story development is key, but is in fact very poorly delivered. It’s a peculiar arrangement in which players will find themselves enthralled in the adventure for an hour, then irritated by it for thirty minutes. And this will continue throughout its considerable duration, easily an evening’s gameplay and perhaps two for those who like to pace themselves.
The levels are plentiful, though many are very short, and the locations visited do closely reflect that of the core Duke Nukem Forever campaign. Many of the original assets have clearly been reused to create the environments, and in fact there’s nothing to suggest that the whole of the The Doctor Who Cloned Me campaign wasn’t designed along with the original Duke Nukem Forever and was at one point intended to be a part of the on-disc release. With the chop-change development cycle of Duke Nukem Forever, it’s easy to believe that this was the case.
In terms of the multiplayer additions, The Doctor Who Cloned Me adds four new maps playable in all modes, including those delivered with the Hail to the Icons Parody Pack. Of the four included Dropzone and Biohazard are arguably the best for your standard deathmatches: Dropzone provides plenty of varied terrain for tactical weapon use in matches with many players, while Biohazard is an interesting throwback to Goldeneye 007’s popular facility level, offering tight corridors with numerous entrance and exit points.
Duke Nukem Forever: The Doctor Who Cloned Me is of coursed based on the core Duke Nukem Forever experience, and with that it’s unlikely to convince the naysayers. However, those who recognise Duke Nukem Forever as being a videogame that delivers on all it promised, a modern rendition of the traditional FPS formula, this new DLC pack is likely to provide good value entertainment for it’s 800 Microsoft Point price tag. Duke Nukem Forever: The Doctor Who Cloned Me isn’t about to reinvent the FPS wheel, but it’s another enjoyable romp through the chauvinistic world of Duke Nukem.