Review by Arschrammen

"A fail to the king, baby"

Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) opens with an amazing sequence showing a very smug Duke with buxom twins at his side, rolling dice on a casino table with confidence. We are then shown a stylish animation sequence that recalls Duke3D set to the very rocking full-band version of the Duke Nukem theme song. At this point you would be forgiven if you thought that you might actually be in for something huge and the 15 years of waiting might actually be worthwhile. Well, at least, this is what I thought…

Unfortunately, the only overwhelming features of this game are the mind-blowing levels of sexual innuendo and a sense of confusion that it took the developers this long to release a very run-of-the-mill first-person shooter. Regardless of the amount of hype generated about this game, it is a massive disappointment for a number of reasons.

By far, the most unforgivable flaw of this game is the excessive loading times. Even with the game installed to your HDD, you will be waiting at least 35 seconds to get back into the action, whether it be because the next part of the level is loading, or if you have died and are going back to checkpoint. Needless to say, this greatly impacts on the flow of the game, especially during boss fights as these are times where, naturally, you can expect to die at least a few times. It is difficult to forgive any game with loading times this long, especially considering massive sand-box games where huge, life-like levels have little to no loading times.

Of course, it would not be a Duke Nukem game without excessive innuendo, but the majority of it is done unimaginatively unlike a far more intelligent satirical game such as GTA or Saints Row. This is going to make me sound old when I say this, but the innuendo wears thin quickly and makes the game very, very tacky. I'm all for sex and violence but when you have tasks such as seeking a vibrator and a condom so you can get a lap dance, I think it is getting a bit cheap.

As far as gameplay is concerned, you can expect a standard, un-evolved FPS with all the obligatory vehicle additions. Disappointingly, the majority of the good features of Duke3D are omitted. For example, weapons collection is replaced by the ability to only carry two weapons at a time, and whichever weapon is needed at the time will be supplied to you so you don't have to worry about conserving ammo for your RPG or Devastator. Say goodbye to the jetpack too – one of the strongest symbols associated with Duke Nukem since the early platform games! Also gone since Duke3D are the large levels that involve exploration and lots of secret areas and destroyable environments. DNF is quite possibly the most linear FPS I have ever played and the puzzles pretty much involve finding something and inserting it into something else (running with the innuendo of the game). There are about three secret areas and no destroyable environments. Overemphasised is perhaps one of the most annoying features of Duke3D; getting shrunk! There are whole levels based around being a mini-Duke which does not fit at all with the general ethos of Duke being a mega badass. Its like Steven Seagal losing a bar fight.

One very curious aspect of the game to me is the fact that throwing items (such as bins, bricks) at enemies is more powerful than the weapons. I completed ‘insane' difficulty by throwing bins at pigs because it knocked them dead straight away! This was compared to blasting them with two rockets from the RPG which usually missed and often resulted in my death due to close proximity of said pigs.

By 2K Games, one does get a slight Bioshock feel to the environments and gameplay, but without the intrigue of genetic modifications or ambient environments. Other than a brief foray in a Duke Nukem strip club, the rest of the game is played in two main environments, all of which will seem very familiar to you if you have played, well, pretty much any FPS on a new generation console: Las Vegas or underground alien dens. The alien underground draws heavily on HR Giger's visual style so you can expect doors that look vaginal and lots of phallic objects to boot. The vaginal doorways are opened by tickling them, again running with the over-the-top innuendo. You will also find alien mammary glands attached to the walls that you can slap to your heart's content, if that's your kind of thing.

One of the positive aspects of the game is the sound. The music and voice acting are outstanding and, even though the script is very uninspiring, it is, overall, a pretty funny game (even if the innuendo is overused).

Replayability is low, mainly because trying the game at a harder difficulty is not desirable because you will spend more time waiting for it to load than actually playing. Also, all the cool stuff is unlocked after completing the game; that is, a gallery showing the development of DNF, videos of the gameplay along the way, soundboard and so on.

When it comes down to it, Duke Nukem Forever is basically an uninspiring and smutty FPS. It is linear, un-challenging and the loading times are unacceptable. It is a funny game but the humour wears thin after a while (say, seven minutes) and given that a game with all these flaws took this long to come out it certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 06/17/11

Game Release: Duke Nukem Forever (AU, 06/10/11)

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