Review by xandermercury
"A great game? Not really. A great Duke Nukem game? **** yeah."
Fourteen years...a lot can happen in fourteen years. Young grow old, small grows big, and some things are forgotten. Thankfully, Duke Nukem is not among the forgotten. First announced back in 1997, this long-awaited addition to the Duke franchise has slowly become the "Chinese Democracy" of the video game world. Would it ever be released? Will it be any good? Will it bring the fans back?
To answer those questions, I'd have to say...yes, yes, and more yes. Duke's latest adventure puts fans back in the boots of the all-around B.A. from years past, and proves that you can't keep a good Duke down...for long, at least.
By now, there have been countless reviews from many websites and other outlets, tearing this game apart and calling it "absolute garbage" (as Destructoid put it), or a "train wreck" (GameSpot's review, which gave it a 3/10). Allow me to go out on a limb here and say that this game is actually decent, if anything, it's at least playable.
Let's start with the plot: Duke is called upon (once again) to stop an alien invasion from destroying the Earth (once again). That's pretty much it, though the game does go over the top is usual Duke Nukem fashion, with profanity-laced taunts, lewd gestures, and ultra-violence throughout. Any Duke fan (if they remember Duke after all these years) will surely enjoy the overall gameplay, as it sticks true to its source material and doesn't let down in that department. Still, the plot is thin regardless. It's a Duke Nukem game, though; was anyone hoping for a deep, emotionally charged plot seen in other FPS's like Call of Duty or Halo? Yeah, neither was I. Moving on...
The graphics were one of the things critics bashed, but I found them to be pretty good. Duke games were never the gold standard, and it shows. People may be put off by the quality of cutscenes or overall character design, but I've never been too picky about it. If a game has awesome graphics, I'll be impressed, but if not, it's no big deal. I don't have much else to say about it, except that they aren't bad, so no issues with this aspect.
The sound is entertaining as well, for the most part. The heavy rock-inspired soundtrack does well to keep any player amped up, ready to wipe the floor with the alien scum, and even simpler sounds like shooting rounds, explosions, and even draining the lizard (yes, you do that right when the game starts) sounds realistic. I'm not too sure why I would mention that in this review, but bear with me, as it does tie in to what I'm talking about...kind of.
Gameplay is another factor that caused reviewers to be short with this game; with the innovations and features utilized in modern-day FPS's, the experience seems watered down in comparison. Duke Nukem games were not all about being revolutionary (though this game was originally viewed as such during its lengthy production period), so I guess I can't say I am disappointed. I did enjoy the simple tidbits that others would most likely ignore, such as scenes involving writing on a whiteboard, or lifting weights in Duke's gym to get an Ego boost. You see, Duke does not have a health bar, he has an Ego Meter, which does the same thing. You can boost your ego by triggering environmental events, such as the aforementioned weight lifting, by having a snack, or checking yourself out in the mirror. As for combat, with every hit you take, you lose Ego. You regain it over time as long as you are not being attacked. Take too many hits, and you're dead. What's a macho man like Duke without his Ego, anyway?
Going back to the "tidbits" thing, it all ties in to the humor that Duke Nukem games have to offer. Whether it's watching a talk show host's stagehand getting a Christian Bale-like tirade from a guest, or Duke taking a jab at himself through dialogue (such as when asked if the Duke Nukem game he's playing in the game is any good, he quips, "After 12 ****ing years, it should be!"), it's the kind of humor that longtime Duke fans would understand, and, like me, should at least get a good chuckle out of. Maybe not "lmao" funny, but it's worth a laugh. Of course, as mentioned before, the crude language and sexual innuendo is strong from beginning to end, such as Duke's live-in twin girlfriends telling him to stop playing with his (billiard) balls...yeah, at least it's funnier than the Axe "cleans your balls" commercials, but I digress. Either way, you'll get your share of fun moments, given that you have some knowledge of Duke's prior outings in the 90's.
Okay, this is getting quite long, so I'll wrap it up by saying this: Give the game a chance. Rent it, borrow it, or if you have the "balls of steel", buy it. If you truly are a Duke fan, you'll enjoy it, even if it's for a few days. Like the big man himself says, "Come get some!"
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/20/11
Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (US, 06/14/11)
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