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Duke Nukem Forever


All Hail the Fail?

Being pulled out of development hell by 2K Games & Gearbox, Duke Nukem Forever has been released this week to stomp on all your dreams of a decent follow-up to the fabled icon of many years past.  In short, Duke Nukem Forever is easily the worst first person shooters to be released in the past five years (if not longer).  It’s a relic of the mid-Nineties, in gameplay, presentation and graphic design.  Set approximately a decade beyond Duke Nukem 3D, Duke is heralded as Earth’s hero due to fighting off the alien scourge.  It doesn’t take long before events are set in motion where Duke is fighting off another alien invasion, much to the disagreement of the current U.S. President. 

duke nukem forever sign

There’s nothing overly unique about the narrative, but the game has transitioned into less of a shooter and more of a Half-Life-style puzzle game.  You are forced to solve tedious physics puzzles during portions of the game that would have better spent blasting away at enemies.  However, this version of Duke is pretty terrible at combat, mostly due to ineffective weapons and poor melee skills.  Enemies are completely unbalanced compared to the weapons that Duke has on hand and often eat up ammo like candy.  Duke can also only carry 2 weapons at a time, a sad quality that would kill him within 20 seconds in the Fallout universe.  Sure, he has giant muscles and can bench press a car, but he can only carry a pistol and a shotgun at any given time.  Yikes…

Sadly, the controls make all of these problems even worse.  Duke plods around like a Biggest Loser contestant during the first week.  The physics engine is a joke and it’s all on the player!  Aliens can hammer Duke from behind with gunfire before he can whip around to kill them.  Mini-games also have terribly ineffective controls.  Pinball, for example, might be more effective if the flippers actually move when I triggered them rather than a delayed reaction.  This is a game that needs a mouse / keyboard solution as the developers were far too ineffective at adapting them to the Xbox 360 controller.

duke nukem forever blasting turret

Multiplayer is stuck in the Quake-age only offering deathmatch, team deathmatch, Capture the Flag (where women are the flags) and King of the Hill.  There is an experience system in place to help bring the game out of the Nineties, but that doesn’t help the slow, boring pacing of the matches.  Online functionality performs correctly, but it lacks the entertainment value of any FPS released in the past couple years.  Beyond the multiplayer modes, you also have the inevitable 50 achievements to tackle for 1000 gamerscore points.  The majority are targeted at story based achievements like beating the game on a specific difficulty, killing X number of enemies or defeating bosses.  There’s nothing overly difficult to complete; it’s just a question of patience.  

Graphics:

I’m confused as to how the dated graphics required such extensive loading times.  Loading is unbearable, many instances requiring 30 to 60 second load times.  There are also plenty of invisible walls, poorly animated NPCs and nasty framerate problems.  If you can look beyond that, Duke does look better than any other version of the game and the main alien bosses are decently animated / detailed.  

Audio:   

The one-liner is once again the King of Duke’s repertoire, but rarely brings a smile to my face like it used to.  The world has grown up and the cheesy action movies of the 80s have long been forgotten.  Duke’s dialogue emulates a world that’s passed him by, a fact that’s been glaringly overlooked by the developers.  Sound effects are average and the musical tracks are simply ok.  There’s nothing really dramatic about the score, odd for something that’s trying to be an epic action FPS.

duke nukem forever giant boss

Conclusion:

I’ve stumped as to who this game is actually targeted at.  Fans of the original Duke are much older and wiser at this point, thus are more likely to read a terrible review of this game.  Hormone driven teenagers (that 2K is attempting to advertise to with implied oral sex in the ads) have probably never heard of Duke Nukem and will never get the barrage of 80’s references.  I have no problem with the juvenile behavior to attract gamers; that’s classic Duke.  But it’s wrapped around mindless gameplay and frankly has lost all shock value over the years; with the exception of the endless female rape imagery which is disgusting and unfunny.   

This is a sub-par budget title that’s pretending to be an AAA game.  Shame on Gearbox for wanting their name on this stinking pile of crap!  If you do enjoy playing terrible games, please rent instead of purchasing as the publisher doesn’t deserve a reward for this.  The campaign takes about 8 hours to complete on the regular difficulty and I’m betting the number of people playing multiplayer is going to drop dramatically over the next 90 days.  It just can’t compete with all the FPS games on the 360.  Skip it!