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MeetyourUnmaker

Duke Nukem 3D is depressing

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If you turn off the Duke Talk, the game's mood becomes really depressing, has anybody else noticed it? The soundtrack has a pretty sad feel to it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM3DQBbmrFY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3-PhM0SfTw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XprOe2sMmzY

 

Off topic, the ambience in Duke Nukem 3D is also interesting. I think the chanting that you see in the native caves in E1M5 and that weird alien off tune organ near the end of the level with the Battlelord are interesting.

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For all the Duke talk, easter eggs like OJ Simpson or Doom marine, and jokes like the cops turning into giant swine, the game is actually really dark.

 

The men are killed off or turned into monsters, the women are impregnated with alien DNA and you kill them to end their suffering (while 64 you actually 'saved' them) and overall the amount of dark shit happening and the mood really does give off this super dark tone which is contrasted perfectly by everything else mentioned above.

 

It's why no other Duke game came close to it because 3DRealms took it really seriously. Duke 1 and 2 before it didn't have too much of the attitude besides him saying I'm Back and him having a book called Why I'm So Great. All the games after it Duke almost became a parody of himself, even worse so for Duke Forever (I have a feeling none of the Duke dialogue was recorded before 3DRealms shutdown and Gearbox not understanding the character).

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1 minute ago, wheresthebeef said:

 

I noticed this trend in several other 90's games. Fallout 1 does this where the writing is filled with gags and its almost like a comedy but the music in the background sounds like something Trent Reznor would create honestly.

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Dark Side from Duke 3D will always stick with me as the greatest example of horror and sadness mixed in at once for any 90's FPS game, I actively turn off Duke talk for this map just to get what I consider the "full experience" of it.

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I always liked this tune from the PSX version of Duke Nukem. It time to shed tears and get emotional but I’m all out of hugs.

 

 

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None of the music in Duke 3D is sad per se, just moody. Ranging from spooky to tense usually. But I found the game to be pretty moody even with the Dukespeak on - some areas are genuinely frightening. The humor mostly comes from Duke's ambivalent attitude toward it all (and the occasional pop culture reference).

 

I used my favorite for the boss levels in Nerves of Steel cos I thought it was an awesome "big boss" prelude tune.

 

 

Edited by Impie

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I'm sure it was unintentional but this was one of the things I liked about Duke Nukem 3D - the mix between Duke's tough guy persona and the downbeat atmosphere of the game. Other than Wolfenstein The New Order, its DLC and Max Payne 3 very few games come close to replicating that tone.

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Bobby Prince was a given a number of Metal music cds by Romero, that is known. What was the inspiration fo the Duke3D music, does anyone know ?

Edited by NeedHealth

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Gotham which plays in the map Rabid Transit has to be the most melancholic music track in the entire game.

 

 

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3 hours ago, wheresthebeef said:

It's why no other Duke game came close to it because 3DRealms took it really seriously. Duke 1 and 2 before it didn't have too much of the attitude besides him saying I'm Back and him having a book called Why I'm So Great. All the games after it Duke almost became a parody of himself, even worse so for Duke Forever (I have a feeling none of the Duke dialogue was recorded before 3DRealms shutdown and Gearbox not understanding the character).

I mostly agree, but maybe Time to Kill is worth mentioning. Maybe I'm just nostalgic over it because I've known it for as long as I've known Duke3D, but I feel that TTK matches 3D - perhaps even surpassing it in places. The second and third Old West levels stand out in particular - two creepy vast abandoned mines, a fair bit of underwater stuff, lots of verticality, and it was just you and the monsters. And those guns were terrifying. And the kamikaze pigs :P

 

As for Forever, I always felt the second half of the game was much better than the first - once you were out of the city and into the desert it began to remind me a bit more of classic Duke. I don't really know the development history, but didn't part of the game pre-Gearbox survive or something?

 

3 hours ago, Memfis said:

This is definitely true for the second episode. Creepy darkness, horrible views of tortured women, aliens insulting you with these ugly voices, a certain desolate feeling. That scene where you're riding the moon train and sad music is playing is so powerful. It's like all that vast space is full of unspeakable monsters and you're the only human around. Awesome. I found the other episodes really lacking in comparison.

 

E2 is head and shoulders above the others for sure, and E2L8 is itself head and shoulders above the rest of E2. So unlike anything else in the game, part of me wishes there had been more of that, but maybe Dark Side would have been less special in that case. The later levels of E4 do a decent job as well I suppose, Critical Mass was awesome.

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18 hours ago, wheresthebeef said:

For all the Duke talk, easter eggs like OJ Simpson or Doom marine, and jokes like the cops turning into giant swine, the game is actually really dark.

 

The men are killed off or turned into monsters, the women are impregnated with alien DNA and you kill them to end their suffering (while 64 you actually 'saved' them) and overall the amount of dark shit happening and the mood really does give off this super dark tone which is contrasted perfectly by everything else mentioned above.

 

It's why no other Duke game came close to it because 3DRealms took it really seriously. Duke 1 and 2 before it didn't have too much of the attitude besides him saying I'm Back and him having a book called Why I'm So Great. All the games after it Duke almost became a parody of himself, even worse so for Duke Forever (I have a feeling none of the Duke dialogue was recorded before 3DRealms shutdown and Gearbox not understanding the character).

I always assumed it was just brainwashing people. Cops are pig monsters, kill them. Save strippers. Only implant women exist. Run from cops like OJ. If they catch you, just escape. Your other heros like Doomguy are dead.

 

Typical Los Angeles.

Edited by geo

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23 minutes ago, Eris Falling said:

As for Forever, I always felt the second half of the game was much better than the first - once you were out of the city and into the desert it began to remind me a bit more of classic Duke. I don't really know the development history, but didn't part of the game pre-Gearbox survive or something?

I think it's because the second half was the most polished and worked on by the time 3DRealms originally closed and Gearbox merely had Triptych (which were just ex 3DRealms guys) stitch together what was salvageable. I know the EDF soldiers were one of the things Gearbox actually remade, but there's no telling how much they made otherwise; quite a bit was shown in the leaks that happened before Gearbox acquired it, including the DLC campaign that came out (despite Gearbox's or Broussard's, I forget exactly who, claim that it was completely original content).

 

I could have a number of things wrong, but that's how I remember it. The whole long development is so notorious and what little is known is fascinating that it is very upsetting all we ever got was a couple screenshots and a few minutes of footage of just two of the builds. There could've been a book or documentary about the development and I would've ate it up.

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Yeah, a lot of the Duke 3D soundtrack is surprisingly somber and moody, which in effect mirrors Doom's own soundtrack. There's not many rockin' tunes so both games' atmospheres are notably more foreboding than constantly upbeat.

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2 hours ago, Avoozl said:

Gotham which plays in the map Rabid Transit has to be the most melancholic music track in the entire game.

 

 

 

Funnily enough this track to me sticks out as one of the more iconic ones in the game. In fact I saw this thread and immediately my mind went to it. :P

 

In my view there are far more melancholic tracks, like say, The Call of Death, Gloomy, Spook, Alfred H, Whomp, Floghorn...

 

...or fucking Death Toll.

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Haven't played too much of it yet but I couldn't really take it that seriously. Everything is pretty cartoonish to me. When you read deeply into the game and focus on the background, then I guess you can make it out to be sort of depressing. For me, I just see things like pig cops at a strip club, strippers taking their clothes off when Duke hands them cash and acting like nothing happened, and aliens taking a dump in public restrooms until Duke decimates the toilets and I can't really see it as anything other than a comedy.

 

There's also gratuitous smut littered all over the game, which detracts from any hint of a somber atmosphere. If the game is depressing to me at all, it's only because it was such a shock coming from Duke 2. I played the hell out of Duke Nukem 2 when it was released and I just liked being a badass fighting my way out of a jail cell and killing monsters to the tune of a great soundtrack. Then I try Duke 3D for the first time decades later and suddenly there's all this pornographic content with Duke seeming less like an action hero and more like some dirty old man.

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It's a common theme with older games - they're being perceived as HEE HEE CUTE RETRO STUFF today, while at the time when their tech was still novel it was much easier to see how dark they actually are.

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4 hours ago, Avoozl said:

Gotham which plays in the map Rabid Transit has to be the most melancholic music track in the entire game.

 

 

That's why I did THIS for the PSX Doom The Lost Levels.

 

Yeah, Duke Nukem 3D is depressing game.

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The Birth is IMO fairly on par with E2 if not worse, even the more upbeat levels like "Duke-Burger", "Babe Land" or "Going Postal" have some real dark moments to them. Most remarkably in the former, there's a straightforward reference to the common belief about the secret businesses between fast food restaurants and animal shelters. "Pigsty" genuinely creeps me out whether I start to think about it more thoroughly, and "Derelict" is literally depression and loneliness manifested into a Build level.

I'll also never forget the solemn, sad tunes of Shrapnel City's second secret level or the foreboding atmosphere of "Movie Set", complete with running into a subway as it collapses right behind. And this is E3, which is IMO the most on the light side overall in the game (I mean come on, you just destroyed an entire set of spaceships of alien force).

2 hours ago, Poorchop said:

dirty old man.

Umm, about that... it might not be that depressing, but aging is sure a thing as recently I was wondering about how old Duke Nukem would be as of today if he aged canonically (I assume he might be around 55 now). And worse yet, he might've even developed PTSD.

Edited by Cell

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I concur on the excellent atmosphere and dark gritty vibe, but I doubt Duke would have PTSD even if continuing with that. He was a devil may care kind of guy largely unfazed and confident, which did stand out against the oppressive atmosphere he was immersed in. And he was cracking one-liners all the time.

 

It is fun to think of the mentality of characters like Duke, the Doomguy, Ranger from Quake and whatnot. Duke has a bit more to go on, with the one-liners and whatnot, and Duke 3D's plutonium pak/atomic edition having a pretty humorous ending.

 

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Dead baby jokes were popular in the nineties. The "dark" stuff was never meant to be something else than comedy.

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I'm glad you made this thread, it ignited a spark that made me download Atomic Edition from Steam again and install Eduke32. I never realized that it had a feature that allowed you to turn off Duke's voice. I've never really cared for Duke Nukem 3D. It should've been the perfect game, I got it when I was 12, it had violence, profanity, strippers, everything a 12 year old should love. But I never really liked Duke, and that carried through the entire game.

 

The atmosphere completely changes when Duke shuts the fuck up and you just have the music and the combat to listen to. I played the first three levels of episode two, and it was a completely different experience without Duke talking. It was actually enjoyable. So thanks again, I'm going to have to replay the game now.

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42 minutes ago, Gez said:

Dead baby jokes were popular in the nineties. The "dark" stuff was never meant to be something else than comedy.

I thought the dead baby jokes came early 2000s.

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I remember dead baby jokes in my 90's high school years among what we would now call edgelords.

 

20 minutes ago, Jello said:

The atmosphere completely changes when Duke shuts the fuck up and you just have the music and the combat to listen to. I played the first three levels of episode two, and it was a completely different experience without Duke talking. It was actually enjoyable. So thanks again, I'm going to have to replay the game now.

Dukes fun in a meme-y kind of way but he really isn't the most interesting about Duke Nukem 3D

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3 hours ago, PsychoGoatee said:

He was a devil may care kind of guy largely unfazed and confident, which did stand out against the oppressive atmosphere he was immersed in. And he was cracking one-liners all the time.

Realistically speaking, people tend to run deeper than their surface qualities. I've seen all too many "funny guys" up and kill themselves one day. Not saying he's depressed, but I'd expect a guy as odd as Duke Nukem to have something he'd rather ignore.

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It's mostly tongue in cheeck but the vibe that the environment gives of is one of coldness and abandonment.

Duke looks a hair more realistic then the other shooters(city and space) and thus slightly better projects the "big city/trash/rat/apocalypse/void" atmosphere.

And yes, the native caves were really spooky... E1M5 was overall a very interesting map.

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