Review by Bako_Ikporamee

"A Fair and Honest Review of Duke Nukem Forever's Overall Quality and Content"

Duke Nukem Forever starts with a scene indicative of the entire game: Duke pissing in a urinal. This auspicious act of urination and the oh-so-clever and innovative way in which the player can steal turds from toilets appears to be an unexpected metaphor for the rest of the game. The player starts by pissing in the game but when all is said and done it feels like the game took a piss on you.

It remains unfathomable to me as to how fourteen years were spent developing DNF. There is no polish, no story, no original lines. The game feels like a fan-made shooting game developed by someone just learning to program. Graphical errors run rampant while Duke doesn't. The action is absent for half the game during your attempts to control RC cars and monster trucks. There's no vitality to the game or enjoyment to be had while you attempt another platforming section with loose, sticky controls. Repetitiveness and that sense of deja vu follow you around throughout the entire game as you see the same group of enemies over and over again. The developers had fourteen years to play through this garbage, how could they not catch any of these glaring flaws?

Gameplay
The core shooting gameplay is reprehensible. Only being allowed to carry two guns at a time and severely limited ammo for them makes gunplay a chore. The game tries to make up for this, however, by scattering the action sequences between large, boring platforming sections or some vehicle nonsense that lasts entirely too long. The vehicles show up all-too-often and suffer from controls that manage to be even worse than the on-foot controls. Platforming sections and out-of-place physics puzzles show their face just to remind you that you're not allowed to have fun while playing Duke Nukem Forever. DNF suffers from extreme linearity yet somehow manages to give you that “what the hell am I supposed to do next?” feeling. Often times you will be stuck and realized that you need to jump over some impossible looking gap or go on a scavenger hunt to find barrels to stack. Not to mention that one level which consists solely of going on a scavenger hunt for a stripper. Rampant things such as those break down the action and cause boredom and frustration.

Boss fights are the worst in video game history. The game only allows them to be damaged by turrets and explosives which ruins any variety or strategy that might have had. And it really doesn't make much sense as to why only explosives hurt them seeing as the rocket launcher has no kick to it and simply feels like any other gun in the game. The bosses in DNF come in two varieties: circle-strife-shoot-rockets-win and unfair-no-room-to-move-lose. The large open-space bosses are child's play on any difficulty. They require no strategy beyond moving to the left and holding the trigger down. The other types of bosses are the pull-your-hair and scream type. They give you no room to maneuver and send endless minions at you as you hold down the trigger and hope for some luck. These battles are difficult but they are not challenging. They come as an iniquitous difficulty spike that disheartens the player as they die and see the extensively long loading screen over-and-over again.

Duke Himself
The largest travesty of this entire game is the ignis fatuus that is Duke's character. The guys behind the game tell the media that Duke parodies other action games and action protagonists. This couldn't be further from the truth. A real parody action hero creates new, over-convoluted lines that makes him look silly and unintelligible. Duke, however, will only take word-for-word one-liners out of movies and say them without context. There is no juxtaposition nor extremity in his words or actions. Duke is never written to be uncool, he is never shown to make mistakes, he is never in over-exaggerated situations. Saying “Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the gun,” after killing a pig-alien is not a parody – it is downright plagiarism. Having a woman pleasure the Duke while he acts cool is not over-the-top sexism – it's just plain sexism. A game like GTA goes over-the-top with its offensive material and comes off as amusing rather than the unfunny blunders of Duke's foolish misogyny. What's funny (sad) is that Duke attempts to make short quips at other games and heroes that are better than him in every way possible. From calling Master Chief a p**** to implying his game is better than Gears comes off as downright pathetic considering the quality of title that is Duke Nukem Forever.

Enemies
That which gives the campaign in other games of the genre such lasting appeal and acclaim are the variety and memorability of the opposition. Duke Nukem's foes lack any memorability. There's no theme or pattern to them. Never are we given a reason as to why the pigs and octabrains have joined forces to fight Duke. They are just a mismatched hodgepodge of creatures that seem like they were thought of by a four-year-old and drawn by a seven-year-old. Yet all that would be entirely forgivable had there have been at least some variety in Duke's encounters. Your typical firefight consists of five pigcops (which, after defeating them you will have heard “pork chop sandwiches” five additional times). If you're lucky there will be one of the other humanoid aliens thrown in. Only two common enemies, that's it. Of course there are more enemies throughout the game yet their rarity begs the question as to why they were included in the first place. There's the octabrains (the most annoying enemy – thank goodness it's only for a level), small bugs (and rats!), and also the bosses. But even the bosses are rehashed. Duke fights around ten bosses throughout his campaign and at least three of them are repeats from previous levels. Bosses are largely unmemorable as most of them are just giant-sized versions of the regular grunts.

Length and Replayability
Overall length is decent for a shooter released in these days. However the length is padded with hours of simply doing nothing. Jumping around and looking for the next area to go to will drive your game time up while simultaneously causing migraines. Unskippable cutscenes combined with levels that won't let you select individual checkpoints mean you'll get bored before getting to any action in a re-play. The tacked-on multiplayer contains bare-bones with a lack of any interesting game-types and is afflicted with insufferable lag and lousy hit-detection.

Graphics and Performance
Graphics aren't everything. But DNF's graphics ain't nothin'. Poor textures line every wall while pop ups litter your screen after every load screen The load screen shows up too often and lasts for far too long. Every fifteen minutes of real gameplay requires another loading screen. Dying due to the artificial difficulty or failing a platforming section requires sixty to ninety seconds of loading. Motion blurs strains your eyes as the whole game feels as though you forgot your glasses. Stiff, rigid animations take up half your screen as you reload, shoot, climb ladders, or play mini-games such as air-hockey. Plastic faces of strippers fuel nightmares as they dance topless with ill-proportioned bodies. Dark and poorly lighted areas appear all too frequently and are as bland as a sauce-less pizza. The graphics simply look like a PS2 game and insult the players on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Maybe they should have kept the sprites so the graphics would have had an excuse to look bad.

Final Thoughts
Duke Nukem Forever is an unplayable, unforgivable mess of a game that came out ten years after its relevance. It lacks polish, charm, humor, and satire. Duke Nukem Forever gets a two out of a possible ten points. The only reason it did not receive a one is because that score is reserved for games that are impossible to complete due to bugs and glitches which Duke Nukem is not. Rather, DNF is simply impossible to beat due to migraines caused by frustration, ennui caused by repetitiveness, and embarrassment caused by Duke's dialog. Still, Duke tries his best to compete with E.T. and Superman and gives them a run for their money as the star in one of the worst games of all time. Duke Nukem Forever will be remembered in gaming history as its largest unfunny joke.


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 06/22/11

Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (US, 06/14/11)


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