Review: Duke Nukem Forever

Picture yourself back in high school. We all had that kid in school everyone thought was so cool, so radical, and so extreme! Your mom never wanted you to hang out with him, but you thought “f**k it, he’s the greatest person ever!” He probably gave you a sip of his vodka mixed with orange juice, your first underage drink, and you wished you had the guts to skip so many classes as he did. Now, forward fifteen years into the future. A class reunion comes up, and you see all your old school buddies again. And over at the other side of the cheerful reunion, you spot that same cool kid. Or at least you thought he was cool. He’s making a complete ass of himself: harassing the girls, getting drunk as hell, making the heart-warming, long awaited reunion a terrible place to be in.

And after all that, you’d be better off hanging out with that jackass than with Duke Nukem Forever.

Duke Nukem Forever // Platform: PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Released in: June 14, 2011

Published by: 2K Games

Developed by: 3D Realms, Triptych Games, Gearbox Software, Piranha Games

Retails for: $49.99 for the PC Version // $59.99 for the Console Version

Duke Nukem Forever is a game that has been salvaged from an unusual state of Purgatory; a state that has made the game look like flat-out vaporware for almost a decade and a half. After going through the hands of a million different people, legal repercussions, delays, delays, and more delays, the game finally landed, in 2010, on the hands of Gearbox Software, of Borderlands fame. They were even brave enough to announce the game’s release date was but a mere year away. I applaud their initiative on the project and I applaud them even more for finally finishing the game. What I do not applaud is the fact that they looked at DNF thoroughly and said: “You know what? We should totally put this game on shelves and charge full price for it!”

No game and I mean no game is worth waiting 14 years for. Not even Duke Nukem Forever. Especially Duke Nukem Forever. If a game takes so long to make, is because something is going terribly wrong. Either the developers were paid to sit in front of their computers blowing raspberries to the screen from 8AM to 5PM, or at a certain point of development sh*t hit the fan. And you can tell that from every single aspect of the game. Interestingly enough, I started to notice so after the first ten minutes of the game. And the first ten minutes are the good part of the game.

It’s been twelve years since man-with-a-twelve-year-old’s-mind Duke Nukem last fought the babe-abducting aliens off the Earth. Duke is now a man of the world; beloved by women, and admired by children and men. After the opening scene of the game, which involves Duke Nukem playing….well, Duke Nukem, Duke finds out that the same aliens have returned to Earth, offering peace this time. Oh, but don’t worry, this lasts for like a nanosecond before the aliens reveal their true intentions, start abducting Duke’s babes again,  and then you can finally start shooting stuff!

Or at least that’s what the game wants you to believe. It’s funny how this game is implied to be a shooter, yet you don’t get to use a single weapon for the first 40 minutes of the game. It seems like half of Duke Nukem Forever doesn’t demand any sort of attention to your arsenal of weapons. And by “arsenal of weapons” I mean the only two weapons you are allowed to carry simultaneously throughout the entire game.

This brings me to my next point. Duke Nukem Forever has to be probably the most hypocritical game I’ve ever experienced. While we all know the Duke Nukem series is a spoof and parody of egotistical macho heroes and other mainstream shooters, DNF can’t help but to swallow their own words and use gameplay mechanics that successful shooters have popularized in the industry. While in-game, Duke mocks generic space marines, when he himself can only carry two weapons at the same time…like most space marines in video games do. Duke literally disses on Master Chief’s green armor, while Duke himself uses a rechargeable shield bar; ingeniously named Duke “Ego.” And even after consciously borrowing shamelessly stealing generic mechanics from other shooters and physics-based puzzles a la Half-Life 2, the game still feels unfinished; which is an ironic thing to say, given that Duke Nukem Forever was 14 years in the making.

If there is a good thing I have to say about DNF in general, is that shooting aliens is flat-out fun. Yes, it doesn’t implement any new ways to kill the aliens, and yes, most of the aliens you see are pretty much the same ones you saw in Duke Nukem 3D, but it’s true that shooting stuff is the fun part of the game. Yes, I think that’s the only way to sum up Duke Nukem Forever. You shoot stuff.

But then the game brought me back again to my main issue with it; that DNF does not add anything new. Here, let’s sum up other innovative, if not good, shooters. In Bulletstorm, you shoot stuff with a lightning whip. In Bioshock, you shoot stuff with DNA-altering powers. In Geist, you are a ghost who possesses stuff that shoots stuff so that you can shoot more stuff with different stuff.

In Duke Nukem Forever, you…shoot stuff. That’s just half of the fun and, again, the only good part of the game. The salvageable part of the game.

You might say that Duke Nukem Forever is a game that you should play with nostalgia in mind, but how can you do that when the game keeps throwing at your face elements from modern shooters? How can you call DNF a nostalgic shooter when it has dull on-rail turret sequences and scenarios as brown as the ones in Gears of War, if not more? And when you take away all of those modern elements, all the shooting, and all of Duke’s one-liners; you’re left with half-baked platforming sequences that are executed poorly (I guess they were borrowed from Mirror’s Edge?) and underwater levels with really small gaps that will frustrate you as you try to enter them.

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  1. the game is ideally great…I mean it suits for teens..anyway creating game always needs to be tested…and im sure you have tested it already…hope it’d be success..

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