Review by JesseRaven
""Hail to the King?" A Tale Forever In The Making"
I made two very greivous mistakes when it comes to this game. The first was assuming that anything that took over a decade to make had to be worth preordering a collector's edition. The second was giving it an 8 out of 10 on GameFly's review board on my first day through the campaign. (The latter has been corrected, but there is nothing I can do about throwing away all that money.) Don't get me wrong. Duke Nukem Forever is not a terrible game, it's not even really a bad game. What Duke Nukem Forever is, however, is an extremely mediocre game.
First and foremost, this is NOT the Duke Nukem you know and love. Take off your nostalgia glasses, you'll not need them for this adventure. At it's heart, the Duke Nukem franchise has always been a parody of its genre, with a walking, talking, kick-ass-and-take-name-ing 80s movie stereotype in the spotlight. Duke Nukem himself is a mix of John McClane, Dirty Harry, Rocky Balboa and the Terminator all rolled into one steroid-fueled mass of muscle, with twice the witty one-liners. Twelve years ago, Duke Nukem killed this huge alien d-bag and kicked his eye between a set of goalposts. And wouldn't you know it, the aliens took issue with him.
That's where DNF takes off. Those aliens have invaded earth, set fire to our cities and stolen our women. Screw the cities, Duke says, where'd they take our babes? It's good to know that mankind's savior has his priorities in check. In a nutshell, Forever's story is literally "They took our babes. Here's a gun. Go kill them." Sure, other things happen, but they aren't relative to the story.
There are few things that make this game appealing. The one that really got me (aside from all the breasts lining the walls of an alien lair, little aliens called Pregnators spitting "white stuff" at you and Duke's "Heard one, heard 'em all" phrases spat out at seemingly random times) is a little cameo appearance by Private Jenkins, who some of you people who play WoW might recognize. "Just don't let him get himself killed," says a sergeant who opens the way to a new area. And sure enough, Jenkins is just a little too close when an alien ship passes by, reducing the overpass you were running on to rubble. "Dammit, Leeroy!" curses Duke.
The list of unappealing things is much longer. Duke Nukem Forever goes way over the top in crude, cheap humor. Duke Nukem 3D (which Forever has gotten way too much comparison with in other reviews, but not for the right reasons) kept the cheap stuff in the first few levels to set the scene and build up Duke's Character. The rest of the game was glorious action with minimal distractions of or references to the flesh. DNF, as I said, goes way over the top. As if Duke were thinking, "Ya know, I haven't seen a bare breast in thirty seconds.... Let's look at one! Oh, look, there's two!" For crying out loud, one of the levels of the game is Duke Nukem's T**ty City! In this level, Duke must find some popcorn, a sex toy and a condom to receive a lap dance. And there's your level.
Load times in Duke Nukem Forever are brutal. Even with the full game installed to my hard drive, it was at least a minute after reaching a checkpoint or dying before the game screen was brought back. And for your enjoyment, the same seven second music loop will play during that minute plus, over and over again. At one point, Megadeth was signed on to provide music for Duke Nukem Forever, and I wish they had. Anything is better than this generic, non-threatening rock symphony.
Duke's movement is not fluid as it should be, nor are the controls as precise as they need to be. Some of the "puzzles" in DNF require a level of agility that Duke just doesn't seem to be capable of. Others are boring and repetitive. And the gameplay in the campaign is padded quite a bit with unnecessary fluff. For instance, one level where Duke is driving the "Mighty Foot" (the only reference to Duke's long lost boot), it seems to run out of gas every thirty seconds. Then Duke gets out of the monster truck, goes into a conveniently located nearby building or mineshaft, kills some aliens, grabs a gas can and then trots out the truck to fill it up. This happens seven or eight times and drove me absolutely mad. Duke's one-liner didn't quite save the scene. After the truck is left behind forever, Duke says, "And it got such good mileage, too."
All in all, the anticipation for Duke Nukem Forever was off the charts. Perhaps Gearbox and 2K Games should have left it at that. But they didn't, and we, the gamers, are left with a tale that ends in mediocrity and frustration rather than empty promises and development limbo.
Graphics - Slightly dated, but not ugly. 7/10
Sound & Voice - Jon Saint John delivers, rest of cast is wooden. 6/10
Music - Kill me now. Wherefore art thou, Megadeth? 2/10
Controls - Classic modern FPS style, with some quirks. 4/10
Gameplay - Repetitive, unimaginative, dull. 3/10
Overall - Mediocre attempt at fan service. Might have been a good game ten years ago. 4/10
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/29/11
Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (US, 06/14/11)
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