With only a few first-person shooters gracing the PlayStation Vita to date, there's plenty of room on Sony's handheld for anything offering up some half decent blasting. Since the bar hasn't exactly been set particularly high either, there's a perfect chance for classic titles such as Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition to stomp onto the scene, giving the PlayStation faithful an opportunity to experience a game that, along with DOOM, Quake, and Half-Life, helped to propel the genre to the height of popularity.
Proceedings open with the titular hero more than a little upset as alien invaders have descended on Earth bringing destruction to Los Angeles. Since he's the planet's number one alpha male, his solution is simple: kill every single extra terrestrial, while spouting lines lifted straight from a raft of eighties action flicks. While light on story, the Megaton Edition of Duke Nukem 3D has plenty of content, as it includes not only the three episodes that made up the original release, but also a number of the additional instalments that were created later. As a result, there's plenty to see – although how much you enjoy the trip down gaming memory lane will depend somewhat on your nostalgia for Duke in the first place.
To say that the blocky geometry of the levels and the 2D sprite enemies look a little dated is a bit of an understatement, but on the upside this means that the game runs really well on the Vita, maintaining a consistently fluid framerate throughout. Another plus is that the level layouts are still really fun to explore, mainly due to them being built to resemble recognisable locations – such as a supermarket or a strip club – rather than the more abstract level designs common in other nineties shooters.
The 'adult' aspects of Duke Nukem 3D, while all present and correct, are – by today's standards – very tame. Fortunately, the crasser parts of Duke's persona, and his immature interactions with the opposite sex, diminish in frequency the further that you get into the game. This at least allows you to tune out his misogyny so that you can enjoy the first-person action, which thankfully still holds up today.
Fighting your way through your alien adversaries as a one man army is gratifying, not only due to the generous auto-aim, but also because of the arsenal at your disposal, ranging from the excellent shotgun to the infamous shrink ray, which miniaturises enemies so that you can squash them under your boot. You'll have no problem finding a use for pretty much every weapon, with only the laser trip mines staying in your toolbox, as you're more likely to blow yourself up along with your target should you start sticking them to walls.
As Duke's particularly light footed – especially when sprinting – the action moves at quite a fast pace, and you'll need to be careful that you don't run yourself straight into trouble, as it's easy to get killed should you end up on the wrong end of a blast from some of the stronger enemies. With no recharging health, you'll have to rely on medical kits and armour pickups to keep yourself alive, but when the inevitable happens, Duke Nukem 3D offers a unique solution to death – well, unique for a first-person shooter at least.
Rather than operating a manual save or a checkpoint system, you'll instead respawn by rewinding to any point in your playthrough of the current level, selecting the exact moment to jump back into the action. This helps keep your frustration to a minimum, as it's not only useful for restarting just before a particularly challenging section, but also can help you avoid getting into an unfortunate dead end, where you have too little ammunition or health to get past an encounter.
In addition to the single player, there are also a couple of multiplayer options that allow you to either play co-operatively through stages with others, or battle against them in 'Dukematch' mode. Unfortunately, the multiplayer's plagued by connection issues and lag that make it virtually unplayable, and when you also add in the fact there seems to be very few players online, you're better off forgetting about the multiplayer altogether and sticking to the campaign on your own.
If you've any interest in gaming history, or get a warm, nostalgic feeling about having played Duke's adventures in the past, then Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is well worth your time. If, however, you don't fall into either of these camps, then it's unlikely that any of the smart design decisions made to update this classic will get you past the more antiquated aspects. This is a shame as, despite the odd misstep, it's a perfect fit for the Vita, offering one of the best examples of the genre on the handheld to date.