Duke Nukem Forever
June 14, 2011
Published by 2K Games
Hail to the King, Baby!
Duke Nukem Forever is a 15-year-old game…not kidding. Beginning with planning and development as far back as the fall of 1996, Duke Nukem is finally here in June of 2011. What took so long you might ask? Well, it seems to be ambition. If you were to go to the internet and search for Duke Nukem Forever trailers as far back as 1998 you would come across several different gameplay videos and screenshots. If not, check out the Duke Nukem 3D release on Xbox Live Arcade since it features some of these same classic screenshots. Now, to say ambition was what held this game back would be a lie. 3D Realms had a lot of ideas on the table, and many of these translated into a mishmash of unfinished thoughts. Just look at the final build of DNF. It lacks any great ambition, desire, or even quality. It is not a great game and it is very far from it, but that is not to say it does not have some quality.
The plot of Duke Nukem Forever kicks off with a bang and it just goes down from there. To be honest, it never really feels like DNF ever has a story. It is just Duke running around, shooting pigs, staring at women, and cussing a lot. But to be honest that is what Duke Nukem is all about. As far as level and story design, you start out in Las Vegas and travel through the desert on your way to the Hoover Dam. Outside of a lot of browns and greys, expect nothing else. The story is about the same as the level design, very plain and very short. You are out to save the babes from the aliens, nothing more, nothing less…that is the entire plot of Duke Nukem Forever.
Character wise you have Duke, the General, and the President, as well as the Holsom Twins (two beautiful girls who rock Duke’s world). You have a few people you run across and then your pig cops and aliens. Duke is kind of boring, he is the same chauvinistic guy he was 15 years ago, and he has the same dialog. Ranging from the classic “Hail to the King, Baby” all the way to the short one liners like “I’m from Las Vegas and I say kill ‘em all.”
Gameplay is exactly what you would expect from Duke Nukem. DNF has the same arcade style shooting of the mid 90’s. You find yourself in big spaces with few enemies, each of which is fairly powerful and aggressive. They run right at you, they shoot you faster than you can think sometimes, yet they are the easiest things to kill. If you remember how to circle strafe, hide behind walls, and all of the other arcade shooter techniques you will find this game a breeze. I played it on normal, and it was one of the easiest games I have ever played. Outside of shooting, there are driving scenes made up of the same thing over and over. You drive a little, hit a big jump, run over the bad guys, and then run out of fuel. Once you run out of fuel, you approach a building, kill some bad guys, and then grab the fuel, refill and continue on. You have a few platforming levels in which you play as mini Duke, and you have a voice that sounds like you just sucked down some helium. They are fairly easy, as the hardest one consists of you jumping over electric water with the help of a few boxes.
DNF takes some great stabs at current and older games. The companion cube and Christian Bale parody come to mind here. Early on in the game you find yourself hearing a rant from a person who says things like “we are through professionally.” If you recollect the Christian Bale rant from a few years back, you will know exactly what they are making fun of here. Later on there is an achievement for unlocking a closet, this requires you to find a barrel with a heart on it (similar to the heart decorated companion cube found in Portal). Outside of these few funny moments, you realize DNF is missing the boat on all the humor that was Duke Nukem.
The multiplayer aspect of DNF is fairly broken. Some matches you can find a great quality, but typically you will get a lot of lag, framerates dropping so low that it looks as if the game is crashing, and hit detection that would make even the best first person shooter players scream. But, then again, it is Duke and this game was not made with the same auto-aim FPS players of this generation in mind. Because at the heart of DNF is still the same exact game they started in 1996. However, there are some fantastic moments in DNF multiplayer matches. I often found myself remembering the late nights at friend’s houses on their Nintendo 64’s killing each other and laughing at Duke’s sayings. These moments are what truly make the multiplayer shine, and it is the definitive savior of the entire Duke Nukem Forever package.
While DNF could be a great game, and with Gearbox Software already scheduling the release of DLC for the future of the game, you should expect some fixes as well as a lot more. Some tweaks to the visuals, some multiplayer fixes, and quicker load times would please a lot of critics of the game. That being said, most of the major issues people have will not be fixed by a few patches. What we can hope for is that Gearbox finds it in their hearts to make a better, proper sequel to Duke Nukem 3D. Trust me, DNF is not as bad as Haze, nor was it as heartbreaking as Homefront, but DNF is not worth $60. If you are just an everyday gamer who loves FPS’s then go out and buy Battlefield Bad Company 2 or Halo: Reach. If you absolutely love Duke Nukem, and have since the DN3D days, then buy this game. It is the same thing you loved in the past; just remember that it is not supposed to be serious. Duke Nukem has never been serious, and the gaming world just cannot handle that today. Unfortunately, and it breaks my heart to say this, but Duke Nukem as we know it should be stopped here. Gearbox needs to find a way to implement future games with Duke-esque characters, or completely start a Duke game from scratch. However, we need to remember that this is 3D Realms baby, not Gearbox’s. Gearbox just saw the game finish, and we saw what a quick job of script writing (Triptych did it in a few months) can do to a game. Stay clear of this game unless you love it, because Duke Nukem Forever gets 6 out of 10.
- Gameplay- Slow-paced, arcade shooter a la mid 90’s.
- Visuals- Brown, grey, bad texture renders. Character models poorly textured as well
- Sound- best part of the game, music repeats often though
Overall- Long load times, weak story, and poor design choices (6/10)