Review by Raidramon0
"A disappointment 14 years in the making"
Check Hell's forecast because it's definitely frozen over. Duke Nukem Forever, which has finally emerged from the depths of development hell, is now playable to all. Unfortunately, once you've picked up the controller and start playing, you'll realize that you've wasted 14 years of your life.
Taking place 12 years after the game, Duke is enjoying retirement at his swanky penthouse in Las Vegas with a museum dedicated to him and all the babes he can play with. Then all hell breaks loose as the aliens tear up the planet, particularly Duke's own franchise, which includes his own burger joint. They then proceed to kidnap all the women they can get their slimy hands on, which to Duke, is the last straw. Despite this, the president gives Duke direct orders not to attack as he tries to negotiate with them. Duke, knowing that diplomacy isn't going to work, grabs his guns and, like he says, prepares to kick ass and chew bubblegum, only he's all out of gum.
Considering that Duke Nukem Forever was in development for 14 years, you'd think Gearbox would've been able to pump out some fresh ideas. But you'd be wrong. The game plays exactly like most first-person shooters that have come before it. Remember what made Duke Nukem 3D so great? Well, Forever throws that all away in favour of basically mimicking everything that previous first-person shooters have done already, and better too. You'd think that Gearbox was so desperate to put an end to Duke Nukem Forever being at the butt end of countless vapourware jokes that they didn't take the time needed to craft a game that was actually fun. And you'd be half right. They've basically taken a game design from yesteryear and slapped it with today's technology, which results with the digital equivalent of a 40 year old doing a horrible job at fitting in with teenagers.
Duke Nukem Forever is basically a carbon copy of Halo with his smug mug plastered on it. There are certain NPC's in the game that you can't kill, which is a shame, because at one point Duke meets the president face to face and I really wanted to blow his brains out. You even get to drive some vehicles in the game and the ease of handling is basically the only thing about Duke Nukem Forever that's better than Halo, and they're a blast to play through. Unfortunately, there are only a few areas where you can do this. Everything else is just the same, complete with gun fights that seem to go on forever with countless enemies gunning at you with no signs of ending. Once it does end though, you're then presented with trudging through environments of empty nothingness to either solve some kind of puzzle or on some stupid fetch quest, especially when Duke drives the Mighty Foot monster truck through the Mojave and has to get out and get gas. And these aren't evenly spaced. You could go through numerous tunnels and plains without anything standing in your way and then get bombarded by hordes of aliens. The boss fights are rather unimpressive, with the in-game tutorial stating that only turrets and explosions will do any damage. They follow the same tired pattern, which involved staffing around and bombarding them with TNT and this tactic got old fast back in the day. Although the game has a wider variety of weapons in addition to all the weapons that were included in DN3D, it would've been more exciting if Duke was able to carry more than two at a time, if ammo capacity wasn't so strictly limited and they weren't ripped straight out of other games.
Duke Nukem Forever tries to differentiate itself from Halo with his own brand of lewd, crude behaviour to boost his ego (his life bar) and does a horrible job at this. While there are definitely plenty of objects to interact with, there are only a few that will increase his ego and some of these are just plain horrible. The Hive level features the women who are buck naked and attached to some kind of pods that impregnates them with alien spawns. You have to kill them yourself or watch them explode while alive, forcing you to fight the young. There are even disembodied breasts grafted to the wall which Duke can do whatever he wants with (I'll leave that to your imagination) and throws in a sexist joke with it. This attempt to be funny and sexy comes off as neither. Instead, it's just disturbing and gross. The boss fight at the end is easily the most offensive thing about this level; it's a giant alien with three breasts that look as if they've been attached with alien matter. Just who were the mazophiliac sickos who came up with this garbage? Since when did the aliens decide to take up mastectomies and breast grafting experiments? I love ample bosoms just as much as any other man, but this is just plain wrong. And not in a good way either.
The game plays alright, with controls that are as sharp as Duke's wit. The enemies, however, are numerous and quite resilient to flinching. I blasted a pig cop at close range and he kept moving as if nothing happened. You'll get this a lot and don't expect them to stop their attack until they're finally dead. And their death animations are pretty lame. This is not only frustrating at times, but just downright unrealistic. There are definitely turrets, ammo crates and piles of explosives to ensure that you'll never run out of the needed hardware. And considering that ammo capacity has been downgraded considerably from the last game and that bosses and vehicles can't be destroyed by anything other than turret fire and explosions, you'll need them.
The game looks alright, with decent design and texturing throughout (despite some pop-ins), but there are definitely better looking games out there that have come out near the beginning of the consoles' life cycles. There are a few pieces of eye candy that'll grab your attention, like in the Duke Burger level where you're shrunk and have to navigate through the environs, but these are few and far between. The girls are probably the only things that have had careful detail given to them, and considering that most of them are almost buck naked, that's not saying much. You can definitely shoot the limbs off of dead people and enemies, but they just vanish into thin air with little blood. You'll hear Duke saying the same tired one liners throughout the game and you will get tired of them. Some of the dialog is funny, but it's few and far between. Duke Nukem Forever's cardinal sin is hands down the abhorrently long and frequent load times. You're forced to endure 30 seconds of loading in between levels and even after you die. That's right. After Duke bites the dust, you have to wait 30 seconds before he springs back into action. And when you consider that an onslaught of fire power can down you in only 10 seconds, that's totally wrong and data installation doesn't seem to do anything to shorten the load times.
Multiplayer isn't that exciting either. You get four modes of play, the usual point tally, team death-match, king of the hill, and capture the flag Duke Style which involves forcefully taking women back to your pad. Hollywood Holocaust is one of the few maps that offer any real excitement, mainly because it was taken from a game that was actually better developed. Even though there are plenty of maps and modes to choose from, it won't be long before you get tired of it all, mainly because multiplayer doesn't have anything that hasn't already been done before. On top of that, your internet has to be from a reputable provider to experience decent play, and even then, internet lag can happen time and again. I didn't experience any kind of problems, but only because my provider is one of the best in the area. If you go with internet from some Joe Shmoe, you can expect lag to really cause some problems. And there's also Duke's pad where you can earn rewards and snaz up your digs and, of course, Duke himself. This would've been nice if it carried over into the Single Player campaign, but because it doesn't, the whole thing just feels like a stuffed bra.
After trudging through this travesty I replayed its predecessor, Duke Nukem 3D, to remind myself of what made him so lovable 15 years ago. It was the well-crafted huge levels filled with secret areas with loads of goodies, it was the awesome innovate monsters that waited around every corner of every corridor ready to pounce (and evenly spaced, might I add), it was the awesome assortment of weapons and items Duke could use to plough through the alien hoards, it was the way Duke made fun of popular characters (like the protagonist from Doom) and the way it was actually funny, and just general total carnage throughout. Duke Nukem Forever has almost nothing of what made DN3D great. While the game does make some good jokes about modern pop culture (like the Christian Bale meltdown ordeal and a nod to the power armour from Halo), this is about the only element from the last game that's made the transition unscathed.
All in all, during the 14 years it took Duke Nukem Forever to get done and finally get out the bloody door and into our consoles and PCs, players will probably have picked up something better during that time. Duke Nukem Forever is worth playing, but once the credits have rolled, you'll probably want to fall back on the First-Person Shooters you've become more accustomed to.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 06/17/11, Updated 08/08/11
Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (US, 06/14/11)
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