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Duke Nukem: Zero Hour Preview

Publisher - GT Interactive
Developer - Eurocom
Platform - N64
Release Date - February 1999
Type - 3D Shooter

He's famous for his one-liners and kick-ass-now, take-names-later attitude, but Duke Nukem's first appearance on Nintendo 64, Duke Nukem 64, wasn't nearly as well-received as GT Interactive was hoping for. The game's aged, though smooth semi-3D engine simply couldn't stand up to the likes of Quake and Goldeneye. The publisher, in a joint venture with 3D Realms, has appointed developer Eurocom to re-establish Duke's reputation on the 64-bit front with Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, currently scheduled for a second-quarter '99 release.

Come Get Some In Duke's latest adventure, the gun-happy hero finds himself in the middle of an alien plot to destroy mankind. Nukem, who hates nothing more than the extraterrestrial, must travel through the depths of time to set things right, kill off the alien scum and rescue all the "Earth babes" in the process. The perfect scenario for mindless violence, excessive one-liners and lots of gunfire.

He's Come to Kick Ass and Chew Bubble Gum...

... And he's all out of bubble gum. But he's definitely not out of ammunition. The biggest difference between Zero Hour and previous incarnations of Duke is that the game does not take place via a first-person view a la Quake. Whereas Duke Forever will hit PCs running on the Unreal engine and retaining the series' classic shooter view, Zero Hour takes an alternate approach to the franchise: a third-person, over-the-shoulder view like that employed in Tomb Raider. Because of that, Duke's maneuvers and options are increased greatly. In addition to shooting off his vast arsenal of weapons, the Evil Dead-like tough guy can climb ladders, roll, grab onto ledges, slide, and crawl through every inch and corner of the game's numerous and varied levels. In fact, the game plays exactly like Tomb Raider on steroids.

Whereas Duke Nukem 64 was more or less a port from PC, Zero Hour has been designed from scratch to take advantage of Nintendo 64's hardware. Eurocom, working closely with 3D Realms and GTI, has designed time-specific levels ranging from a futuristic world equipped with monitoring cameras to an underground mine-shaft with rail-barrel. No longer is Duke a 2D and flat; instead, the Nukester has finally made the long-awaited jump to 3D polygons and he, along with all of the game's enemies and objects, look better than ever. All of the above and a consistency that hugs 30 frames per second.

Fore Dukes are Better than One Thankfully, Zero Hour will feature a four-player split-screen deathmatch mode in which players can hunt one-another down. Details regarding the feature are still sketchy, but IGN64.com speculates that players will be able to control variations of the Nukem through a pre-set number of deathmatch-specific levels. In other words, a style very similar to Rare's Goldeneye.

Outlook Duke Nukem: Zero Hour looks to be a very promising title for many reasons: the first and most obvious, it's a Duke Nukem game. The second, it's being developed by Eurocom, the same team responsible for Midway's excellent port of Mortal Kombat 4. And third, it's a third-person action/adventure with mature themes, a much-needed genre for Nintendo 64. Keep an eye out for this one.