Review by Pikachu1918
"Neo-Duke is KING!"
Hey gaming fans, it's your old gaming rat Pikachu1918 here, with the low down on Duke Nukem Forever. Some games spend twelve months in development, and they receive mixed reviews. To spend twelve years in development, that has to be a world record. If there was a game that I never expected to see in my hot little hands, it's this one. Just to give you an idea of how much twelve years means, it means kids who heard about this title from their siblings who were in high school are now in college & university. I am not here to recap history, and get sentimental on us.
Duke Nukem is a signature character from the early 90s; I mean more than one of his signature phrases was stolen from different movies from the 80s & 90s. In that time, the sexism, the muscles, on muscles, on muscles, all the stereotypes Duke Nukem has as a character were accepted. Considering how this game was in development so long, it's hard for him to have evolved as a character, simple as that, so if you don't like the 80s/90s era of video gaming, then this isn't the game for you. All right, enough explaining about the game let's open up on this game.
The basic outline of this game's story is that it is twelve years since we last saw Duke Nukem in Duke Nukem 3D, and those evil aliens are back and want to revenge. Simple as that. They saw one little human stand in the way of their dreams of world domination, and he stopped them cold, so they figured that by waiting half a generation, he'd be old, drunk on power, and unable to act. Well Duke is still in prime shape, so he's going to kick some alien tail, no matter how he's seen by certain people in the world.
In one light, the story is simple, and is a joke. In another, you have to think of the Duke Nukem context, storytelling wasn't something done when he was made, it was a excuse to blow things up. Does Duke have some soul searching profound moment in the game? Nope. Are there seeds for sequels where Duke might get a story line we have seen in modern first person shooters? Yes, I think that's the best thing we can walk away with in this game.
Game Play: 8/10
This is the reason why I call it Neo-Duke gaming fans, the way the game plays. Duke Nukem Forever changes how Duke's fans can play the game out as him. It's rare I see the developers point of view on the stuff I don't like in this title. I don't like how you're limited to only two weapons, and have only a certain amount of space for secondary gear. However, let's look at the other side of the coin. In that tight muscle shirt, and chest gear holder he wears Duke doesn't have all the space in the world, so while I might not like it, I can respect why developers chose to go with what they went with in this case. Despite working in the realm of science fiction, they chose to stick to some facts, such as how much one person could carry.
I have seen it before in other first person shooters where you select one level of game play, and it does not really get that much harder as you advance into the game. Maybe you have to swap guns to deal with a new monster, but that's it. I found with this game, there was an increase in difficulty as I went deeper into it, on all aspects. Where before I could clear a level, and not get killed, I'd see myself getting killed two to three times on later ones. Where before how to advance was crystal clear, I was taking time to figure it out. It's not easy to program this progressive hardness in a first person shooter via skill over masses, and this game uses skill to achieve those ends.
This doesn't mean that this game is perfect. With the space available on today's computers, the developers could've made the game more opened ended on how to reach critical points in the game. In some cases, I felt almost hard wired to follow a certain path. In single player mode this game doesn't encourage exploration, while it does do just that in multiplayer.
When you beat the game the final boss fight feels easy, and the amount of time you put into beating it feels limited. However, I put 15 hours into beating this game on medium. Not exactly 5 minutes, but there is no way they could've met everyone's expectations on how long it would take someone to beat this title.
When it comes to judging a title's graphic abilities, it's not always easy. Duke didn't just break the mould on this ride, he made two new ones, broke them, and gave us pure solid gold. When you run around as him, you think he has real leather gloves on, that you're an extension of him. When you look in a mirror, you don't see some blurry shape that could be him, you see a crisp clear image of Duke Nukem. You can clearly see the effects of different weapons at a distance, and know the difference as you approach them.
It could be argued that you can't clearly see the difference between foes at a distance is a flaw. In this case I see it as a mark towards how the real world works. Since during a battle with explosions, lights are taken out, which means you can't see someone clearly. How many times have you looked into the distance, and think you see person A. Then you walk closer to the person and instead it's person B? That's what you see here.
All of Duke's old enemies are back in this title, from the alien grunts, to the pig cops, and who can forget the floating octobrains. All their looks have been updated so while Duke wasn't wasting away in some cave, they were getting make over's, if only for you to blow them up. No cheap box tricks with these guys, you aim must be dead on to hit them.
A problem I had sounds simple to fix, make Duke's arms move when he jumps, I mean he looks like he's from River Dance when he jumps and you face a mirror. We all know Duke likes to get close and execute the bad guys, but can he get a bit creative with it. I mean how many times does he give a front snap kick or an upper cut to the head to kill one?
Duke without sound or music, is like a highway without the sound of an 18-wheeler going down it. During the campaign you don't notice the lack of music as you go around blowing up the bad guys. The guns sound solid, even when one of them shoots ice out. The sound is sharp enough I feel an experienced player can use them to track down a hot spot full of bad guys who want to kill you.
Between chapters you get a solid rock score to help refresh the soul, and prepare for the next round of alien monsters who must die. As someone who's done marathons for sports, I love the score that was chosen for Duke Nukem. It helps push you forward into the early hours of dawn in this title.
The Multi-player of this is controlled by Steam, just want to get that off the bad. Now some gamers this might be their first steam game, so be ready to set things up, and learn the controls outside the game. You have to be ready to kill your mike, ignore players, and well you get the idea.
The multi-player does give this game a good shot in the arm for extended replay value, since I can see a person beating the game in single person and putting it away. This part, I've seen great players, and I've seen not so great players. If you select your matches right, you can face foes who are at your level of play, in theory.
Steam does have two big flaws in it, there is no way to report a cheater, and during quick matches you're not always matched with players at your skill level. I've seen matches where you have a level 20 duke, and you have level 2 dukes on the same field. It's hardly a fair match there, but that's what Steam does for quick play. It also does send you back to the same match you just left if you quit it, there is no logic behind this multi-player.
FINAL CALL TIME
Yes gaming fans, we've done an end to end run about Duke Nukem Forever, you now should know the title as well as I do. It comes down to one question, To buy or not to buy Duke Nukem Forever ? After careful review, I must sadly say . . . Pass until it drops to $40 or less. With the limited single player mode is what ultimately hurts this title.
Duke Nukem has lost none of his appeal over the years for a creature of another time. The game doesn't use light tricks to make it seem scarier, or make the monsters ten stories high. In a science fictional way it feels like it could be real. It's a great shoot'em up game from years of yore when parent groups and other people weren't so sensitive to characters like Duke Nukem. During the game it was nice to see Duke mention things which show he's up to date with the times.
Well that's another review being said and done here in Pikachu1918 Central. Duke Nuke Forever is a fun title, if not a little overpriced. I hope to see more of Duke Nukem now that a major developer has him in their hands. This is your reviewer Pikachu1918 signing off by grabbing a cigar paraphrasing Duke Nukem when I say, "Hail to the Duke, baby!"
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/27/11, Updated 07/30/13
Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (US, 06/14/11)
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.