While the wait for Duke Nukem Forever appears to be just that – forever – the king of PC-based blasting and babe-rescuing action has taken a pit stop to star in his very own platform game. Yes, a platformer, not something we see much of on the PC these days.
As usual it involves a dastardly futuristic plot. A madman by the name of Mech Morphix has swamped New York in radioactive goo called GLOPP, which must be tidied up. Naturally, there are many fiendish mutated creatures to face, not to mention more large-breasted women than your average Russ Meyer film to be rescued. And they’re all simperingly pathetic in classic tongue-in-cheek Duke style.
It’s a very standard formula really. Jump from rooftop to rooftop, gunning the enemy down with a large arsenal of weapons, or flying-kicking them aside if you prefer the personal touch, while you collect key cards to advance to locked areas and defuse any GLOPP bombs you find. Ultimately of course, the final showdown will be with Mr Morphix.
There are eight episodes or levels to play through in total, divided into a number of sub-sections with the obligatory bosses to beat at the end. Your leapin’-and-shootin’ actions can be controlled with either a joypad or a mouse and keyboard combination; the latter works surprisingly well for a platformer.
The control system is really well implemented on the whole, and you need to master certain elements like double jumps, which allow you to leap further and higher. Preferably planting a flying kick in a pig cop’s face at the end of it (and yes, the cops are mutated pigs).
As well as a whole lot of blasting there’s some puzzling too. Certain sections require a bit of thought, such as spotting a small crack in the floor and detonating a pipe bomb on it, creating a hole you can climb through. There’s a decent amount of variety in the gameplay, as you get to dodge cars, play with jetpacks and all sorts throughout the levels.
Perhaps the most entertaining sections though are the end of level bosses, which are gargantuan confrontations. The first of these is a massive black helicopter, swooping overhead, which needs to be shot in strategic locations (in typical arcade style), first from the roof of a building and then from a rope ladder dangled from the ‘copter. Adrenaline pumping stuff…
Our only real complaints about Manhattan Project are the fact that the levels do get a bit “samey” in places, and the save system can go awry. You can only quick-save the game during a level and at times the auto-save function automatically saves over your last quick-save – still with us? – essentially meaning you can be left low on health in a bad spot with nowhere to load back to but the start of the level. Permission to gnash teeth and bang head on desk granted.