Developer: Gearbox Software (and others)
Publisher: 2K Games
Rating Guide: How I Review Games
It takes one to know one doesn’t it? So you would assume that it would take a fan of Duke Nukem 3D to really appreciate what Duke Nukem Forever is all about right? You’d have to be big on nostalgia to really “get it” wouldn’t you? Okay, throw all of that shit out of the door as Duke would say. There’s no escaping the fact that this game should’ve released over a decade ago and saved itself (and gamers) the need to complete it now.
Duke, oh Duke…how far we’ve tried to travel yet how little progress we’ve gained.
Graphics, Gameplay and Sound
Duke Nukem Forever is the highly anticipated follow up to 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D. Fifteen years is a long time. Anything can happen during that time and most importantly, people can grow up during that time. What was once cool in 1996 is no longer relevant in 2011 and that’s where we’re left with Duke Nukem Forever.
The first sequence of the game hints at a pretty bland experience and as you progress through the game, that never changes. The entire experience just feels dated. I didn’t enjoy seeing Duke get a blow job by twins and I didn’t enjoy the humor. It’s a typical first person shooter but the delivery of it was far less than that. You have big guns of which many are actually quite cool. I enjoyed the Shrink Ray and the Shotgun for its power but only for about 10 minutes before I realized I was still stuck in this experience that just felt dated.
Playing Duke Nukem Forever is all about being macho and being the baddest S.O.B. on the planet. Duke likes to admire himself and his big ass guns. That admiration is key part of the game with Duke’s EGO or rather health bar. You have to boost your EGO in order to withstand the pounding he’ll eventually get from the aliens. You can only carry two guns at a time to help you battle the evil forces. There are also driving elements in the game that often have you speeding across a valley running over aliens along the way. If you want puzzles, DNF has those too albeit not very involved ones. It won’t take any amount of thought to complete them but then that’s what Duke is all about. It’s supposed to be mindless fun like ya know Duke Nukem 3D.
I’d like to go into more detail about the game but that’s really all there is to it. You’re Duke and everyone loves you as they all did once before so they’ve called upon you to do it again. You fight aliens, solve puzzles, take on a vehicle mission or two and admire yourself in the process. The bad thing though is that it’s not that much fun doing any of it.
The textures, character models, framerate issues, long loading times, the environment and even Duke himself all suffered from a development cycle that should’ve been completed in 1998. In fact, I think Duke himself may have been the most disappointing thing about the game. His one liners and humor just aren’t funny like they once were. I don’t want to be too critical of this game because it deserves an A for effort. The fact that Gearbox finished this ridiculously hyped title should be commended.
What I feel though is that 2K Games and Gearbox Software did this simply to please the fans who kept begging for “the Duke”. I wanted to enjoy this game but there are just so many other titles out there that offer a better experience it’s hard to justify playing it beyond one completion.
Will most of the hardcore Duke fans love this game? Of course they will despite any glaring issues with it. I get the fact that this game is meant to be SO over-the-top that it’s brilliant but what it actually is isn’t close to that.
Xbox LIVE Extras
You can take Duke Nukem Forever online in Deathmatch, TDM or Capture The Flag err Babe. There’s not much to say about its online component except that it works. If you want a frantic online experience with other Duke fans, then this will be your heaven.
It isn’t fair to lay this game and its shortcomings completely on the lap of Gearbox Software. They probably chewed the least amount of bubble gum during the whole bubble gum chewing development. They simply had the biggest balls to complete the game. They’ll be blamed for how Duke Nukem Forever turned out but not by me. The list of developers you see at the beginning of the game should all stand in line and own up to how the game ended up.
I was hoping for the best after such a long history of turmoil in getting this game done. However, Duke Nukem Forever feels and looks very much like a game that should’ve released on the original Xbox. The humor doesn’t fit anymore, the nostalgia doesn’t fit anymore …. the Duke doesn’t fit anymore.