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Review by: Emil Pagliarulo
Published: February 20, 1998
The President of the United States has Camp David…Superman has the Fortress of Solitude…Captain Picard has the Holodeck…. Everyone needs a place where he or she can kick back, relax, and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bus driver or a superhero — we all need to take time for ourselves every now and then. I think any gamer would agree that if anyone needs a vacation, it’s Duke Nukem. Just look at what the poor guy has been through — he’s saved the Earth on numerous occasions, rescued President Clinton from the clutches of his extra-terrestrial captors, travelled through the “Gate” to the aliens’ homeworld, and even had to endure all those Vietnam War flashbacks. So, what better place to escape to than the sun-soaked beaches of the Caribbean?
Well, if you thought Duke was peeved the first time the alien maggots “screwed up his vacation,” just wait ’til you get a load of Sunstorm’s latest Duke Nukem 3D add-on. Duke Caribbean: Life’s a Beach! may very well be the last time Duke graces the Build engine with his presence, but he’s sure as hell not going to go down without a fight. After arriving at a plush Caribbean resort, our hero discovers the alien threat is far from vanquished. On the contrary — as it turns out, the tropical heat is perfect for breeding his old foes. The environment is so appealing, in fact, that the aliens have decided to use it as their vacation spot, too. Needless to say, the steroid-pumped superman is not happy. Beer, chicks, sun — the Duke wants it all, and he’s not about to share. So it’s goodbye sun-tan lotion, hello sawed-off…it’s time to stain the sands red!
Duke Caribbean: Life’s a Beach! adds one new episode to an existing registered copy of Duke Nukem 3D. Also called “Life’s a Beach,” it offers seven new levels, and of course, a secret level. The action starts at level one’s “Caribbean Catastrophe,” when Duke first discovers the aliens have once again robbed him of some much needed time off. From there, the action goes to level two’s “Market Melee.” Level three’s “Mr. Splashy’s” is a blood-soaked romp through a water park, complete with wave pool and flume ride. Level four brings the killin’ to the “Wavemistress” cruise ship, where Duke and company prove that ship levels never go out of style. From there, the excitement returns to land at the “Lost Lagoon,” a trek through the jungle, Indiana Jones style. Level six is a nice change from the norm. Called “Voodoo Caves,” it has a darker feel, and reminded me of something out of Blood. The action in Life’s a Beach! ends in the briny deep itself, within “The Alien Remains.” Of course, a gamer with sharp eyes might be able to find the episode’s secret eighth level. I’m still looking, and I’m not happy with myself….
One thing’s for sure — Duke Caribbean: Life’s a Beach is far from “serious.” The add-on’s emphasis is on the light-hearted and comical, as evidenced by the new look for all the familiar Duke Nukem 3D creatures. That’s right, the aliens have been given a new, breezy, summertime wardrobe. The Pig Cop now wears a Hawaiian shirt and carries a fruity little drink, the Assault Trooper is decked out in a white Miami Vice Hugo Boss-style suit, and the Fat Commander’s anti-gravity unit has been changed into an innertube.
In addition to the new duds, gamers also get some new additions to the standard Duke Nukem 3D single-player experience. The designers at Sunstorm have created two new enemies; the seagull is a homicidal little thing, straight out of Hitchcock’s The Birds, and the Inflatable Sea Monster launches brutal coconut rockets, making him the toughest foe in the game. For some reason, the Iguana Captain monster was removed from the final version, even after Sunstorm posted some screenshots of the pool-net carrying alien.
Life’s a Beach! modifies all of the weapons in Duke’s arsenal, and all are sufficiently Caribbean oriented. The Freezethrower has been turned into a shooting ice machine, the rocket launcher has been replaced with a coconut launcher, the shotgun is now a “Super Soak ‘em” pump-action squirt gun, and so on. Probably the funniest change is in the Duke’s simple front kick. The action is the same, but instead of seeing our hero’s jeans-covered leg and work boot, the player is treated to a view of his sandalled foot and hairy shin.
Certainly the funniest added feature in Life’s a Beach! is the inclusion of unarmed bystanders, similar to the “innocents” in Blood, who are there simply for the slaughter. These sun-bathing women scream, run around, and try frantically (albeit unsuccessfully) to avoid the hail of bullets and rockets, all the while making such suggestive comments as, “Oh Duke, you have such a big muscle,” and “Watch where you point that thing.”
With the popularity of the Quake 2 engine growing every day, and true polygonal-based 3D the norm, it may seem like the time is way past for another commercial Duke Nukem 3D add-on. Probably, but the fact remains that Duke Nukem remains one of the most popular PC personalities of all time, and this is a game that’s in just about everyone’s library (if not still on their hard drive). Duke may be fading into the sunset, but he’s sure as hell going to take those aliens down with him!
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