By Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez
The return of Duke Nukem.
ell, he's back. Duke Nukem, that cuddly killing machine, has returned to spread a bit more love. Duke Nukem: Time to Kill follows the same premise of every other Nukem game, mass destruction and self-centered heroics. The introductory movie of this new game is quite standard as well, adhering to the time honored preview structure. There is a slight deviation, however, from the strict trailer code. The images, while edited in this recognizable pattern, are not taken from the game itself but rather form a mini story to set up the explosion-infested plot. It seems that a hole has opened in time, allowing various alien nasties, in this case hogs dressed as policemen whose uniforms' read L.A.R.D., to leak through and tear up the scenery. Duke does not take kindly to this and proceeds to explain his position siting the theory of fist to support his argument.
The opening section backs its chaotic imagery with a rather hectic comic bookish tune by Stabbing Westward, the kind of music that goes well with Nukem's own code of violent meditation as demonstrated in one of the song's key lines "I like to see you suffer." The film cuts between sex and death, the arch theme of Mr. Nukem. The sequence quite literally opens with this opposition. A jittery, faded title comes up on the screen reading "in a world gone bad," and we immediately cut to a sign advertising the local strip club aptly called "bootylicious." What better way to symbolize the Nukem franchise.
Duke is quite the anti-hero, a self-centered warrior who is only interested in dispatching the aliens to their own little cosmic Elysium fields because he is personally inconvenienced by their fiendish behavior. "To fight for justice" is not likely a slogan to show up on his membership card in the gallery of heroes. Duke seems to enjoy what he does, the eternal loner who rides through the darkened streets on his motorcycle.
The interesting thing about Time to Kill is that its introductory film provides us with our first view of Duke as an articulated, animated figure outside the confines of the game's own internal animation. The style is appropriately in line with the garishness of the game itself, the gaudy colors of the red light districts and seedy cityscapes which served as the backdrop for Duke's other adventures are here rendered quite accurately. It's rather exciting to see our hero in action, silently going through the motions, which countless players have manipulated themselves, "by himself."
Duke is a comically exaggerated figure, an amalgam of all of the action star stereotypes. It's interesting to note how his rampant machismo has been embraced as a lovable trait by many in the gaming community, the connotations good naturedly overlooked by those with a sense of humor and appreciation of the film genres being spoofed. The creators of Time to Kill recognize the comic side of Duke, an essential element in all of the games and a key piece of the character himself. Especially worth a chuckle is Duke's disgusted reaction when his cycle is transformed by the aliens' time hole into a little kid's bike. For our hero this is more than insult enough to begin his bloody rebuttal. Another laugh, albeit a darker one, arises from the frantic peace making gestures of a pig just before he is fried to a crisp by Duke's blowtorch.
The cinematics of Duke Nukem: Time to Kill are a perfect match for our blood soaked hero. This first glimpse of an animated Duke is far from a letdown for the fans that have been waiting to see the man in action. Nukem is in fine form and the cinematic world he inhabits could not be more appropriate; it's tailor made for that little touch of Duke in the night.
- Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez is a regular contributor to loonygames.
Credits: Pixel Obscura logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Pixel Obscura is © 1999 Josh Vasquez. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited...we know where you live.