Review by Bkstunt_31
"Better late than never? That's debatable..."
Ah, Duke Nukem Forever... a running joke among gamers for YEARS. It was announced in 1997, FIFTEEN (15!) years ago after 3D Realms released the highly successful Duke Nukem 3D. In that time span the game saw delay after delay due to engine swaps, incredibly high expectations, and lawsuits. It also probably didn't help that there was never no hard deadline for the game to be completed by. After 14/15 years though, we FINALLY saw this game release on June 10th, 2011.
A decade and a half is a LONG time... and most gamers that I know were NOT expecting anything good from this game. But after that long it's pretty much a miracle that "Duke Nukem ForNever" finally came out, right? But wanting to see gaming history in the making, I just HAD to rent this game. So after playing and beating it, here's what you can expect out of the long-coming Duke Nukem Forever.
Duke Nukem has never REALLY been about the story... and never really had a very good story to begin with! It's more about Duke's attitude and presence than anything else, but this is a review, so...
After the events of Duke Nukem 3D Duke has become a big-name celebrity, living a good life after his heroics during the game Duke Nukem 3D years ago. In fact, as you start the game, you (as Duke) are playing through a video game based on your exploits. However, the aliens that Duke had battled with a decade ago have come back and Duke's talk show interview was interrupted by them. The aliens are being peaceful though, and so the president basically makes Duke be peaceful. Of course it would be a pretty lame game if that was the end, so of course it turns out the aliens are out for revenge on Duke and start to attack. From there it will be up to Duke to take down the aliens and save the women... again.
I won't lie to you, the "story" is pretty sad. You work with the earth defense force and talk to leaders like the president to learn about the aliens doings but that's about it story wise. The only thing you have to look forward to the rest of the game is Duke's one-liners. But to be honest, you don't pick up Duke Nukem Forever EXPECTING a story... and if you are well then you are playing the wrong game. The one-liners can still be funny, but I can't help but feel that I've grown up too much since I played Duke Nukem 3D since female anatomy and toilet humor are still Dukes strong points. But hey, if that's your thing then this game is perfect for you.
Now the GAME PLAY is what everyone was expecting to be good. Those early 3D games like Duke Nukem 3D were all about grabbing a ton of guns and kicking the behind (being G-rated here) of anything you come across. And they were good games! The reason they were good was the variety of weaponry and their fast-paced nature.
Duke Nukem Forever pretty much forgets what MADE Duke Nukem 3D a household name. The action isn't fast-paced. You don't get a ton of guns. In fact, Duke can ONLY carry TWO guns at a single time (much like Halo). The gun mechanics are good (they all have a secondary shot and function nicely), and the amount of guns in the game is decent as well (I just wish you could carry more then two guns). The real problem I have with the game play is the pacing of it. You move from fire fight to fire fight, but with excessive lulls in-between. Often those lulls come from either a puzzle of some sort you have to figure out (to make a path ahead and continue playing) or (get this) from plat-forming sections. Yep, Duke Nukem Forever actually has PLAT-FORMING sections. Kinda weird, huh?
There's also sections of the game that will have you driving around a monster truck, which are OK but can get ANNOYING since the truck is CONSTANTLY running out of gas (and they make you go find gas to fill it back up). It's tolerable thanks to all the jumps and enemies to run over. There are also sections of the game that will SHRINK you down to a miniature size and make you figure out how to make yourself big again (the shrinking sections are where they put a lot of the plat-forming segments at, by the way). But probably the most annoying sections of the game are the underwater sections, which make you find and sit in air-bubbles so you don't drown. Fighting underwater is annoying due to having to watch your oxygen AND health.
Despite the bad pacing and limited arsenal, the game is suitable as a mindless shooter. It's still satisfying to kill things with guns, after all, and the boss fights are always fun. There's a bit more to the game of course. There is no health bar, as the game has a more modern feel to it: when Duke is injured the screen starts to turn red. Duke also has a SHIELD in the form of his EGO which needs to be injured before you can be killed. Most shooter games nowadays use a similar system, but using Duke's EGO as a shield was CLEVER. You can also INCREASE your shield..., er Ego Bar, by finding and interacting with certain items in the world that increase Duke's ego.
Duke can also find and use pipe bombs and laser trip-mines. You can also find and use three different types of items: Steroids, Beer, and the Holoduke. Steroids makes Duke's melee attacks STRONG, Beer will make Duke resistant to damage (and will also make the screen blurry, naturally), and the Holoduke projects a fake image of Duke while making you invisible so you can launch sneak attacks or just take a breather.
In the end, Duke Nukem Forever lacks what it takes to be a big-title shooter, but is OK as mindless fun. It's got some serious pacing problems and I HATE the limited amount of guns you can carry but if you can shut your brain off and just shoot stuff you should have SOME fun.
The graphics are another mixed bag... you can definitely tell that this is an "old" game for having JUST come out (due to the games LONG development history). The game LOOKS good... environments are well designed and have a lot of detail, but are just barely PS3 worthy. You wouldn't be surprised if this game was on the PS2 is what I'm saying. I do like the character and enemy designs though. The animations can be choppy at times and probably could have been worked on some more. One thing that will drive you insane is the HORRENDOUS Loading Times. They are seriously bad and can make you wait 30-40 seconds each and every time you die. In the end the graphics are decent and do their job, but are just underwhelming when compared to other games out there.
Like everything else in the game, the audio is a mixed bag. The soundtrack is, as you would expect, primarily rock, which isn't bad by any means. I mean, the theme is pretty darn good. There's quite a few good tracks in the game that rock fans are going to like, but there's plenty of boring tracks as well. The pacing of the music could use help too. You're not going to come away awed by this soundtrack.
The voice acting (and quips by Duke) are the real audio highlight. Jon St. John reprises his role as Duke Nukem (yep, the same guy that voiced Duke YEARS ago) and does a great job at what he does. You'll even find yourself chucking (and maybe even laughing) at some of the things the Duke says, which is undoubtedly the audio highlight of the game.
The game is decently long! You're going to spend 2-3 good afternoons with it before you beat it, and once you do you can replay any chapter. There's really not much of a reason to replay unless you want to try out a different difficulty or go for some PS3 trophies (some of which REQUIRE you to play a certain difficulty). The game also features multi-player with classic game modes like death match and king of the hill, but with all of the MUCH SUPERIOR first-person shooters out there you won't find yourself playing Duke Nukem Forever's multi-player very long...
Anyway you look at it, Duke Nukem Forever is an inferior product. Juvenile humor does nothing for the story while pacing issues and long loading times severely hamper the game play. Everything else about the game is either underwhelming or borderline decent. The game can STILL be fun to play with though (again, mindless fun) but Duke Nukem Forever is the POSTER-CHILD of RENTAL games. So if after reading this review you STILL want to try it out, do yourself a favor and RENT it. Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/17/12
Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (US, 06/14/11)
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