I recently got a copy of Duke Nukem 20th Anniversary World Tour, Gearbox Software's way to officially maintain control of Duke after resolving litigation over a fanmade remaster, and test the waters for a potential new game. The tagline is "Frag Like It's 1996!", and they go out of their way to stress it. The game features slightly modified versions of the original Build engine visuals, now with more modern lighting and claiming it to be "true 3D", and like the Halo remasters, one can switch between the slightly newer graphics and the original version. The main selling points are that it includes a bonus 5th episode, called Alien World Order (which has Duke fighting in Paris, London, Amsterdam and so on) made by the original creative team, a new weapon for Duke, a flamethrower (available only in the bonus episode), and re-recorded dialogue by voice actor Jon St. John, to give Duke's one-liners more clarity in the audio, as well as add new ones. (Duke now says "Bazinga!" at times).
Compared to the version of the original game I downloaded on GOG.com, there is almost no difference, and the ones there are mostly inferior. While the dialogue and music has been re-recorded, the original sound effects files are still used, with no cleaning, compression or remastering, especially to work well on modern sound systems. These stand out in very stark contrast to the new effects, to the point that some, like the pistol, are virtually muffled and inaudible. I of course much prefer the crisp effects of the original, even if Duke's voice seems somewhat muddied. In addition, the fact that only lighting effects were changed for the visuals feels quite underwhelming. Despite the press, it is simply the same 2.5D renderings, the same pixelated enemies, and so on. If you're going to do any fiddling with the visuals, it's better to fully consummate it. The fanmade remaster that Gearbox shut down was to have been the game on the Unreal Engine 3. Gearbox could've simply bought up the game, finished and released it themselves, maybe tinker to change it to Unreal 4. Then we could switch between the new, modern photorealistic 3D visuals, and the original Build engine style that is so beloved. The lack of any of the original expansion pack content included in the Megaton edition release on GOG and Steam is also frustrating.
Simply put, as an anniversary salute to Duke Nukem, this release is sorely lacking, a sign of great potential squandered. Maybe, Gearbox can correct these issues in a patch or DLC content, but if things continue, a new Duke game to challenge and compete with the reimaginings of Wolfenstein, Shadow Warrior and Doom is unlikely to surface.