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The Best Duke Nukem Game S, All 12 Ranked, Best To Worst

An addictive FPS with an interactive world, dangerous enemies, and wry humor, Duke Nukem 3D was the pinnacle for a series whose entries significantly wavered in quality over the years. But out of every entry, was Duke Nukem 3D truly the best? To celebrate 25 years of the Duke, here is every game in the series, RANKED.

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Duke Nukem Forever

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Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever, which takes place twelve years after the events of Duke Nukem 3D, spent over fifteen years in development. But despite that lengthy time table, the highly anticipated follow-up was a buggy disaster and remains one of the worst reboots of all time. The graphics are mute and unpolished, the gameplay glitchy and clunky, and its dialogue was just the worst.

“I'm looking for some alien toilet to park my bricks,” Duke says at one point. “Who's first?” Released in 2011, the timing of Duke Nukem's return was poorly timed. No one wanted to play as a sordid, potty-mouthed womanizer. Longtime fans of the series would like to forget this entry even existed.

Duke Nukem: Critical Mass

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Duke Nukem Critical Mass

Initially advertised as a trilogy for the PSP, Critical Mass instead appeared on the Nintendo DS back in 2011. Duke Nukem is asked by General Graves to once again save Earth and locate a missing special forces team. While a few aspects of Critical Mass were entertaining, (players can jump between first and third person), the gameplay felt old and clunky, enemy AI was incredibly easy to kill, and the graphics were so pixelated they were unbearable to look at for long periods.

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Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes

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Duke Nukem Land of the Babes

All of Duke Nukem's misogynistic antics are horrendously dated in 2021, but Land of the Babes leans full throttle into the Duke's worst qualities. The game follows the Duke as he is thrust into a world controlled by aliens that have killed all the men and enslaved all the women.

Before repopulating the earth, Duke must kick some alien butt first. While Land of the Babes isn't the worst entry in the series in terms of gameplay, the recycled formula of aim, lock on, and shoot grows old fast, and the game's Tomb Raider-inspired platforming is as dull and lifeless as a beached whale. Not to mention the game just looks awful, and Duke's constant innuendos and sexist jokes will make anyone squirm.

Duke Nukem

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Duke Nukem

The original Duke Nukem was actually a relatively enjoyable side-scrolling shooter. The game that started it all, the layout itself is very basic. The Duke merely enters a room, destroys the enemies inside, then exists. There isn't much more to it than that. The game is mostly devoid of all of Duke's toxic machismo crap, which is kind of nice.

Duke Nukem 2

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Duke Nukem 2

Similar in terms of style to the first Duke Nukem game, this sequel offers more leveling up abilities and an array of new weapons and items to collect. Like its predecessor, Duke Nukem II is a fun side-scrolling shooter that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project

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Duke Nukem Manhattan Project

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Crafted for Windows back in 2002, Manhattan Project was a blissful return to form for the series. Duke, up against a mad scientist named Mech Morphix, navigated a fully-rendered 3-D NYC in the same side-scrolling manner as his previous adventures.

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But Manhattan Project offered fluid and improved gameplay, with Duke able to bounce around walls of subway tunnels and across rooftops with ease. Each level was also surprisingly expansive, and there were plenty of goodies to be discovered for those curious enough to explore. With flexible camera angles and enhanced graphics, Manhattan Project was truly a standout.

Duke Nukem Advance

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Duke Nukem Advance

Sure the graphics leave a lot to be desired, but back in the day to have any sort of shooter on the GameBoy Advance was awesome, and Duke Nukem's foray into the GameBoy world wasn't half bad either. For fans of shooters like Doom, Duke Nukem Advance scratched that itch very well with its fast-paced shooting and multiplayer capabilities. It was one of the best shooters the portable system had to offer and made for some chaotic 4v4 action with your friends.

Duke Nukem Time to Kill

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Duke Nukem Time to Kill

Another third-person addition to the franchise, Duke Nukem Time to Kill was nicknamed “Duke Raider” as a result of its gameplay similarities to the Tomb Raider franchise. Time to Kill embraces exploration and encourages players to slow down from their run-and-gun tirades and explore the settings around them.

The controls just move better, and while at times the game's slower pace was bothersome, the end result was a Duke game that felt fully formed and fully realized. Time to Kill demonstrated that the Duke Nukem series was more than just a collection of run-and-gun shooters.

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Duke Nukem: Zero Hour

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Duke Nukem Zero Hour

Time to Kill's N64 follow-up was even better than its predecessor. The sluggish controls of Time to Kill were refined and curated to be snappy and responsive, in part thanks to Nintendo's 4MB Expansion Pak, a fluid control setup inspired by the Turok franchise.

The biggest flaw in Zero Hour has little to do with actual gameplay and more to do with the fact that there were rarely any points to save progress within each level, which would result in players having to replay entire levels over again multiple times, even if they were killed by the level's final boss. Regardless, the gameplay was fun and energetic, and an introduction of 4v4 deathmatch and other multiplayer modes made for some addictive multiplayer scenarios.

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Duke Nukem 3D

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Duke Nukem 3D

The reigning champ of Duke Nukem games, Duke Nukem 3D is still a blast to play 25 years later. Great level designs, fantastic enemies, at the time, Duke Nukem 3D was one of the most popular first-person shooters in the country. Duke's humor was risque but never offensive, and the world was interactive and detailed. Duke Nukem 3D was a rare moment in the series where everything just came together like the gears in a clock and worked together wonderfully. Duke Nukem 3D hit a balance that has yet to be recreated.

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