A few weeks back, we had a contest, giving away three copies of Duke Nukem on XBLA. A nice bonus for the winners was the promise of playing co-op Duke Nukem 3D with the Co-Optimus staff. Last Saturday night, one of the winners got together with us for some old school, one-liner spoutin' action. Since Duke Nukem is such a classic, and features co-op, it's only natural that our report on the action would be the topic of this week's Co-Op Classics.
Scheduling is always a bit tough, but we managed to scrape together a few staff members to join Co-Optimus user fasterthantheworld. The illustrious crew included:
Nick "bapenguin" Puleo: You may not be able to hear him on the podcast, but you can sure feel his boot in the back of your head. (More on this later.)
Mike "pheriannath" Katsufrakis: It's impossible to spell his names, but he can always find the color coded key.
Blake "broodax" Corner: Smash Bros. guru, Phantasy Star fanatic, and easily a better Duke player than...
Marc "DjinniMan" Allie: Bad at Duke Nukem 10 years ago, even worse now, but leaves a great looking corpse.
Ahem. In an event like this, with five different Dukes running around, you'd expect a little bit of chaos. However, from the get go, the action was even more hectic than I'd have imagined. As soon as we spawned in the first level, we were immediately met by several Pig Cops. However, these weren't your normal Pig Cops, these were flying. Small rocket ships with Pig Cops inside, from the get go. And there were lots of them! Apparently, the game scales the number of enemies depending on how many players there are. This is a fine feature, as it would be way too easy otherwise, but it was quite difficult to stay alive with all the monsters everywhere. But that wasn't what really made it interesting.
Friendly fire was turned on for our sessions. You do the math: when there are four other Dukes with you, all trying to stay together, you might accidentally hit your friend with a shotgun blast. Or two, or three. Who knows, perhaps a rocket launcher could kill you and your buddies, all at once. I'd wouldn't know ANYTHING about that, really. Obviously, this made the whole experience quite a bit more, shall we say, exciting? It's hard enough to get 5 players all in one little hallway or closet, but when you add in Pig Cops and Assault Troopers into the mix, well, you really should expect an occasional kick to the head, right? Besides, it's all in good fun!
The level design of Duke Nukem is quite good, even these many years after its release. All sorts of nooks and crannies are there to find new items, like the almighty jetpack and the shrink gun (easily the best weapon in any FPS ever). Speaking of the shrink ray and good level design, a particular favorite moment from our evening together was the room where you have to get shrunk, then run through a small passage. For just a moment, you are out in the open, the size of a mouse, and then another Duke walks in full size... SPLAT. Yes, it was clever level design, but getting stepped on inadvertently by your co-op friends is totally hilarious.
All in all, the Co-Op night with fasterthantheworld was a success. We played co-op for just over an hour, and then we took a break for some deathmatch on the infamous football field level. I have a deep and abiding passion for this map, the wide open spaces, with nowhere to hide allow even a terrible player like me to get some kills. I ended up on the bottom of the list, when it was all said and done, but who cares? I was laughing and cracking jokes the whole time. DukeNukem 3D was a great game 10 years ago, and it's still a fantastic way to spend an evening today. I'll leave you with an actual quote, my favorite of the evening: "Somebody kick me in the head, I'm all out of ammo!"