With Duke Nukem Forever finally here, many gamers inserted discs or installed files with trembling fingers and fervent nervousness. “How could this possibly be good?” the masses asked, the question still likely fresh in the minds of those who have yet to take the plunge. Read on and all shall be revealed.
Let’s keep this as short as possible: Duke Nukem Forever isn’t good. It simply isn’t good. It’s a broken mess and while I personally did not get dragged into the hype machine that was “OMG DNF IS FINALLY COMING OUT,” I know a lot of people who were and eventually let down by a subpar game that needs 800 CCs of tender love and care.
Here’s the deal—DNF could’ve been really great if everything worked. It has all the makings of a top notch, tongue-in-cheek first-person shooter that could give your fingers everything you wanted and more. It’s funny for all the wrong reasons, it’s responsive as far as controls are concerned, it’s got some pretty rockin’ tunes, it’s got more colors than the boring browns games have come to embrace, and (more than anything) it’s Duke Fucking Nukem, the most badassest, crass, womanizing son of a bitch ever to grace your screen.
But after 15 years, Duke still isn’t finished and it’s a downright buggy mess. Texturing issues are the least of the worries, however. Full disclosure? I didn’t finish Duke Nukem Forever. A combination of frustration and technical issues with the 360 version make this game damn near unplayable. I feel horrible saying that and typically I would be appalled by any reviewer that claims to be worth their weight in salt saying they didn’t finish the game they were reviewing, but Duke did not make it easy for me to get further.
I only made it to the Queen Alien—that’s right, only boss number three. Why did that happen? Well, of the five frustrating attempts I made on this boss and her grotesque alien breasts, I died once after unexpectedly receiving some rockets to the face and the four times after that the boss fight FROZE. That’s right, just froze right up—and it wasn’t the console, but the game just stopped. Duke could move around no problem and one of the EDF marines ragingly gave the unmoving Queen Alien shotgun blast after shotgun blast.
Yeah, so, if this were to happen once? That’s easy. Four times in a row? No. Thank. You. Coupled with the insanely long load times of console versions, this is simply unacceptable. Maybe we’re all a bit spoiled by how fast technology is now and the load times aren’t that big of an issue in the grand scheme of things, but nobody should have to reload boss fights except for failure on their own part and not that of the game’s. I think it’s really upsetting that it wasn’t my own inability to complete the game, but rather the game itself that made it impossible.
In addition, you’ll also find that Duke has been neutered, so to speak. While being as testosterone-filled as ever, Duke’s manliness has been severely dumbed down. Never did he need an automatically refilling life bar (called “Ego” here) or to run and gun from the seemingly overpowered aliens that plague you around every corner. You can only carry two guns at a single time? I didn’t realize that Duke was supposed to be that wiener Master Chief and not a one-man army with a prerogative to put a basketball court-sized hole in every single alien head he can find.
Yet, Duke Nukem Forever changes all that badassery into something significantly…less. There’s no feeling of manliness; everything that Duke was before is no longer here. This especially doesn’t help with all the wanton difficulty spikes throughout the game, often making whatever difficulty level you’re playing irrelevant. How manly can you feel being gunned down by Generic Pig Alien Shotgunner #325 when he ambushes you from a corner?
The patient and resilient will be rewarded with a mediocre shooter game with humor that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Duke is not going to win any awards with his crude and tasteless jokes, but there is one thing to say about Duke Nukem Forever—it’s Duke Nukem in spades. Jon St. John perfectly recreates the Duke Nukem experience by reprising his iconic role, corny lines all intact.
The multiplayer is nothing to get excited about either. Basic multiplayer maps and goals like Capture the Babe, a free-for-all fragfest (and the team-based version as well), and finally the Duke version of King of the Hill titled “Hail to the King.” Standard, unbalanced, boring and subject to the same horrible load times the single player portion is. Nothing special and nothing you should even bother with.
But what else is there to say other than Duke Nukem Forever is subpar at best? Sure, there are a few redeeming qualities to be found, but overall, DNF would’ve kicked ass had it been released in the late 90s as it should have been. Here in 2011, DNF is easily overshadowed by games that work, even if they do have their glitches. Unless you really want some closure, Duke Nukem Forever is something to miss. Do not, for any reason, bet on Duke.
Duke Nukem Forever was developed by a ton of people, packaged by Gearbox Software, and published by 2K Entertainment. This title is currently available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC platforms.
An Xbox 360 version of this title was provided to Save/Continue by the publisher for review purposes.