"Oh Duke, how you have fallen... "
Oh Duke, how you have fallen...
Let's get it out of the way first - yes, the game actually is called 'Land Of The Babes'. That should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of humour you should be expecting in this game. Unfortunately, the only people who will find things to laugh about (other than the graphics) in this game will be too young to be able to play the game through, probably. It really is that juvenile. However, that may not be a bad thing: ultimately, if you are able to take the sexism in this game with a pinch of salt, then playing this game in small doses can prove a breath of fresh air in this current PC climate.
On to the actual game. Sadly, this game is not Duke's finest hour. As with Time To Kill, Take 2 have added extra Tomb Raider goodness to this game, making the 'witty' one liners all that give this game a DN feel, and true to form, some of the comments (such as the 'itch scratching') are so mind-numbingly awful that you are almost embarrassed to be playing the game, but at the same time they are so blatant and loaded with single entendre that you almost can't help but smile. I had hopes that this series could be back on track after playing the recent superb Game Boy Color outing for Duke, but sadly that only served to show how far removed this game has become from Duke's roots. People who have played pretty much any third person action / adventure games will know exactly what to expect from Land Of The Babes. It has ladders to climb, walls to clamber over, doors to open (with the keys that you have to find...) It's all so ordinary, for want of a better word, that it's hard to believe that this game is part of one of the industries most highly rated franchises. In addition to that, the controls make you feel somewhat detached from the action. It's an odd thing to say, but the controls seem too easy. It's hard to explain in words, but with the controls being so obliging, it feels like the game does too much for you.
That isn't to say that the game is BAD - it has enough shooting and exploring to keep you occupied, and on the later levels finding the secret areas (that allow you access to better weapons and unlock cheats such as the obligatory big head modes) can prove challenging, but there is no addictiveness to the game. This is a game that occupies your time, rather than demanding it.
The graphics in the game have advanced very little since TTK. As such the explosion effects are impressive, the colours are nice and bright and the sprites are big and meaty, but when compared to recent offerings in the genre, such as C-12: Final Resistance, this game looks dated. While there are nice touches (the effects in the power room in level one, for example, and the way in which Duke becomes transparent if he is in the way of the camera view), the graphics in this game, like the gameplay itself, are good, when they could have been great.
Sound too is average at best. While the voices are likeable for their cheesiness, the sound effects are nothing more than passable, and to be honest I'm struggling to remember whether or not there was any music in the game whatsoever. Mediocrity at it's most mediocre.
That said, the game does contain a superb multiplayer mode, that is likely to be the only reason the game leaves it's box when you finish the one player mode. The 'Dukematch' levels in which you and a friend attempt to blow the living happiness out of one another boast better design than the one player levels. Admittedly the 2 player game amounts to little more than running around the stages whupping ass (or being completely humiliated in my case - the shame of it), find a good arena to duke it out in (no pun intended) and you potentially have hours of fun on your hands, which is more than can be said for Land Of The Babes' main quest...
Like a certain Mr. Universe-turned-Hollywood-legend that, erm, 'inspired' Mr. Nukem in the first place, Duke's recent offerings have lacked the sheer magic that they formerly provided, although strangely they still leave you feeling that the next one will be something special. Hopefully this will prove to be correct, as this is not the way that Duke should be remembered.
Community review by tomclark (March 06, 2004)
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