Review by krillin4553
"So, we meet again, Mr. Nukem"
Let me start this off by saying. I played Wolfenstein and Duke Nukem 3D with my dad growing up. Along with other old school games like Commander Keen and Jazz Jackrabbit. Dad and me waited a long time for this game to come. And I thought it was hopeless. Well, I'm really thankful for Gearbox for deciding to let many fans dreams come true, to finally play the game that was seemingly never meant to be. And to be honest, it's not the greatest, but that by all means, does not make it a bad game. I think many people are judging the game unfairly, based upon how long it took to make it and the expectations of how it should be are unreasonably high. When I see review scores giving this game a score such as 3/10. I begin to wonder, I've played games far worse than this that have gotten a better score. It's kind of sad really but that's come to be expected of many professional reviewers. But here is my honest review of DNF.
When I give the graphics a 6. I don't mean, hey, these graphics are terrible. I mean, they're average. You can compare it mainly to games like Quake 4 and Prey. Since this is technically a 2007 game being released in 2011. It's going to look behind, afterall, it's running on Unreal Engine 2.5. But considering that it is, it's not a bad game to look at it. The main cons it has, it that the game seems to have no anti-aliasing. Which doesn't really seem to be a problem for most of the game, but some objects do look strange because of it. In one of the opening scenes where Duke is playing his own game. He has two speakers mounted on his wall, both of which look completely misplaced. This is probably the worst looking thing I've seen in the game. Other than that, enemies, Duke himself, environments, and guns, all range from decent to average. Nothing's going to blow you away in this game. But that doesn't mean the graphics are an eyesore.
The game, put simply, is just mindless fun. The shooting mechanics work like you'd expect them to. Thankfully, no aiming-down-the-sights, a-la Call of Duty. The game however does feature an odd form of regenerating health, via your ego bar. Throughout the game, Duke has a health bar called his Ego, once it depletes down to flashing red, you take cover and heal. Much like the shield from Halo 2 and 3. However, you can do things such as play pool, pinball, lift weights, defeat bosses that increases this Ego bar. So near the end of the game, you have a decent sized bar of health and Duke can take more punishment, letting you stay out in the fray longer. Also returning from Duke3D are fan favorite items and weapons like the Shrink Ray, Steroids, and Holoduke. All of which worked like you remember, except for the Holoduke which does more than just stand there this time around.
The game has a more old-school feel to it than most newer games. As it has physics-based puzzles such as what you'd find in Half-Life 2. While not always quite enjoyable, it does provide a decent change of pace as they're scattered throughout the game. You'll see things such as moving barrels to weigh things down, or moving valves to have a flow of air go through a certain path. There's also quite a bit of platforming in it as well. Which is a bit reminiscent of Metroid Prime during these sequences.
One thing that needs to be mentioned by itself though is just the level of interactivity in the game. There are so many things that Duke can do in his world. Drink from a fountain, play pinball, lift weights, drive an RC truck, play a slot machine, microwave popcorn, air hockey, etc, etc. This is actually one of the best parts of the game. While it may be a little gimmicky. It's awesome to have things like this in the game. And provides a welcome distraction. While also allowing for some funny quips from Duke as you do these, doing bad in the pinball for example results in Duke saying an alternate version of one of his classic one-liners, stating, "I've got balls of fail." Things like that really make going out and finding all these things to do in the game a treat.
The real main drawbacks, which are more letdowns, because they don't truly effect the gameplay is the regenerating health and the two-weapon limit (not counting pipe-bombs and trip-bombs, which have made their return to Forever as well). Having a fully loaded arsenal in the original Duke3D worked well. You were loaded for bare, but that doesn't mean you always had ammo. So you had to be strategic with dispatching your enemies. As well as having a set amount of health, you also had to be careful when you engaged the enemy. In Forever, I can see why they have changed this. The game's AI is a bit less forgiving than it was in Duke3D. I don't see having a set amount/health packs as quite viable as it was back in the day. The two-weapon limit, is also a bit of a letdown, but makes sense for the more modernized classic-fps feel I think the company was going for.
Okay. Let's face it, this is Duke. There won't be a high-quality, Mass Effect-esque story. This is just simply, aliens coming to Earth, managing to piss Duke off in some way or another, and him exacting his revenge and saving the planet. One of the main selling points for this game, is that it's crude. If you played Duke3D expect the same kind of humor as you did in that, except a lot more of it, and in more different varieties. The game was not meant to be taken seriously, and doing so is a mistake. Expect tons of potty humor, cheesy one-liners, and many different references to movies and games alike. But that what gives the game it's charm and makes Duke the character we all know and love. While the actual story is rather forgettable, the humor and it's characters are what stand out.
The sound is your normal shooter. Being Duke, the soundtrack appropriately is mostly comprised of heavy guitar riffs. Which is fitting for the character and the style of game. Guns sound satisfying, especially the Ripper and M1911. Duke himself, is once again voiced by Jon St. John. Most of his lines are delivered well and in classic Duke form. Sometimes his lines are kind of flat sounding but those are few and far between. A lot of the games humor comes from the interaction between npc's in the game itself. Most of these lines and conversations between characters are well-voiced and are rather funny.
While the multiplayer won't be as epic as say Duke3D and having lan parties of it. It is decent, offering the usual fare of gametypes. Deathmath and Team Deathmatch, both called Dukematch and Team Dukematch resepectively. And a variation of Capture the Flag called Capture the Babe, where instead of a flag, you guessed it, it's a girl. And a Duke Nukem style King of the Hill mode. Progression is like most, you get experiences for kills and for completing challenges, and you level up. Thankfully though, levelling up does not give you better weapons or perks for advantages over newer players, but mainly cosmetic and objects in your Digs. What's that you may ask? Well, it's like a house, where you go inside, and depending upon what challenges and level you have unlocked, you get new things to put in here, like pinball machines, pool tables, decorations, statues, furniture, and you can go inside and interact with these objects like you were playing the game. It's a nice touch put in and adds more replay value to the multiplayer. the multiplayer is satisfying, albeit it may sometimes be a bit laggy, as there's so much going on at once, firefights can get very hectic, but are intense and fun. Making the multiplayer not quite stellar but it's definitely worth a shot.
Duke isn't without his problems, and I just wanted to make a small section and title it miscellaneous to give a heads up. The game does suffer from some techinical issues, for one, the loading times are quite extensive. I've clocked in some levels taking 40 seconds to load. This number does seemingly decrease if you install it to the 360's hard drive. But in some cases, it doesn't always work. I've had some levels load faster than others after the install and some seem to have no effect. There are in some, very few cases though, where the framerate does dip down a bit. For the most part though, the game does run at a normal 30 FPS. But when things get very intense on screen, you may sometimes see this dip down below 30. I would recommend installing the game to the hard drive, as it does seem to help out with these problems in my experience, but does not fully get rid of them.
Was it worth waiting nearly 15 years for it? Maybe not. But thankfully, Gearbox has gave us a game that no one ever thought would see the light of day. Playing it is just being a part of gaming history. Especially if you've been following the game for a long time. It has it's flaws but all in all, it's an enjoyable game and you'll get a laugh out of it. Now that Gearbox owns the Duke IP, one can only wonder where the series can go from here. Despite bad professional reviews, the game still has received decent sales, and a sequel does seem likely considering that and the enthusiasm for doing creating their own Duke game, as shown by Gearbox's Randy PItchford. Hopefully, if one does happen, it can build upon the foundation set by Duke Nukem Forever, and improve upon the formula and bring it more up to par technically with newer releases.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/16/11
Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (US, 06/14/11)
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