Duke Nukem — a name that once reigned in an era where gaming was mildly in its infancy. A name that, over the past decade, has remained imprinted in the minds of Duke fans as its stagnant production became more of a joke, rather than the exciting installment that was meant to be. An over the top character that delivers a concoction of bad jokes, and a façade that only Neo Nazis can applaud, as he roams the alien-infested planet with big guns and a bad attitude.
Once we found out that its production was picked up again by 2K Games, 3D Realms, and Gearbox, fans of the franchise cheered in anticipation as their narcissistic hero returned in next gen form. However, what was to follow was a barrage of disappointment as realization kicked in, and saw that Duke Nukem Forever – overall – was nothing more than nostalgic lust perpetuated by years of denial and marketing. A game that sat in limbo feeding off of our prospects that’s as worthy as road kill – a game that relied solely on the name of a prehistoric relic.
Duke Nukem Forever is astonishingly hideous in every sense of the word. An abortion that was forced back into the womb of game development, the game relies heavily on egregious dialogue, dated visuals, and mediocre gameplay to push forward a game that, obviously, should have remained in our subconscious as a decent pastime. Some things are better off not being done for the sake of salvation, and Duke Nukem Forever should have stood on that platform.
After a decade of bewilderment, the lackluster storyline emerges in which aliens, which were once beaten to a pulp by Duke Nukem in previous games, return for some form of revenge a decade later. Now, when I say revenge, you’d think that they would want to obliterate our planet and hunt down Duke Nukem for their embarrassing defeat. Instead, they’re abducting Earth women to feed them alien spooge and impregnate them with alien spawns. Duke’s very own girlfriends (yes, plural) get abducted after he is attacked, and the game spirals into a whirlpool of poop that promises consistent hollow gameplay and irritable looks of calamity.
I am a firm believer of the notion that games should be judged for what they are, not for what they aren’t. And this notion holds true even with Duke Nukem Forever, which, ironically, is the disgruntled afterbirth of two hillbilly siblings. You expect the game to be a prideful shooter that goes back to its retrospective roots; but the game is hardly that – a shooter, that is. The majority of the game is comprised mostly of first-person platforming and puzzles which lack creativity, which I’ve seen more of in a special needs art class. What you would expect from a Duke Nukem title (continuous use of oversized weapons and gore) is hardly what you will receive. If you’re a Duke fan, you will, undoubtedly, feel cheated from the plethora of action that was once abundant in past games. You’ll be constantly thrown in turret fights, and conforming to the world’s shallow puzzles as you make your way through the game. Your battles with the alien creatures are hardly memorable and extremely brief, to say the very least.
So what do you do if you’re not constantly making donuts out of alien pigs with gargantuan weapons? Mini games. That’s right: mini games. Duke Nukem Forever relies heavily on interactive objects throughout the game which, more than often, give our spiked-haired hero Ego (health) boosts. Anything from lifting weights to feeding your narcissism through self-admiration will give Duke Nukem an ego boost. It’s something to distract you from combat (or lack thereof), sadly.
What you would expect from a shooter isn’t what you get, per se, from this game. The aforementioned additions are pretty much what molds the game into something somewhat enjoyable, when you’re not being tortured with cheesy dialogue that will, more than often, have you shaking your head as a somber look of disbelief settles on your face.
It would be awful to call this badly concocted humor “comedy.” One would pray that the game’s writers were going for a brainless attempt at humor in order to depict that Duke Nukem is, in fact, an uneducated simpleton that crawled out of a Planned Parenthood dumpster into the bowels of society, listening to bad jokes told by the redneck hobos that raised him. It’s retro comedy that would have been appealing during an era where MC Hammer was amazing. Twelve years later, you would expect Duke to have a much fresher arsenal of witty dialogue.
But the stench of horribly composed jokes is the last thing you’ll be worrying about. The subpar last-generation graphics are pretty tedious to look at when you notice that most of the textures weren’t done with motivation. It’s not to say that the game entirely looks bad; there are certain parts of the game where you will notice that some thought and care were put into the stages. Sadly, though, other stages look like they were thrown together with a combination of bad code raked from the pits of hell and poop.
It’s not just the textures that you will be disgusted with, though. Character animations are disgusting, to say the least. Aliens walk like they were recently sodomized with pineapples, and the women (aka “babes”) pose in their “sexy” ways like something out of a Silent Hill game. It’s unnatural, disappointing, and, most of all, scary. I constantly questioned whether or not the animators were even trying at this point, and noted that the only way you would be visually attracted to this game would be if you were a raging lunatic, or a masochist.
You’re served with pretty basic FPS controls which you can thank God didn’t go hand-in-hand with everything else that made this game a mixture of disappointment. The buttons do what you expect them to do, but the physics in the game… well, let’s just say that it can sometimes feel as if Duke is wearing rollerblades and is made out of rubber, as he is able to bounce off of walls and/or objects without the laws of physics being taken into consideration. I know the game isn’t meant to be “realistic” (and that is very obvious); but it would be pretty awesome to play a FPS where it doesn’t feel like I’m figure skating.
There is also a multiplayer in Duke Nukem Forever. If you think that adding this element to the game would somehow increase overall playability in order to add value to the plastic disc it was printed on, you’re mistaken. The game’s multiplayer is just as bad, if not worse, than the actual campaign.
You’re given three modes to dive into – Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch and Capture the Babe (which is pretty much Capture the Flag with women as the flag). To say that the multiplayer is bad is an understatement. You’d have to be an avid enthusiast of everything that is crap in order to find this facet of the game appealing. Its eyebrow-raising maps are depressing, the overall gameplay feels like it was slapped together and skipped QA, and the overall appeal is just nonexistent. It felt as if Gearbox was trying to add this horrid component for the sake of providing a dishonest value to consumers.
The name Duke Nukem was once dignified. Some people will embrace this game and dismiss everything that makes this game the abomination that it is simply because of the weight the name once held; the respect and the history that followed the IP for so many years. Tipping my hat to the name doesn’t necessarily mean that I should be applauding the lack of everything the game was deprived of. Twelve years was more than enough time to bring forth a game that would be somewhat decent to a large community of fans that deserved a more polished game. Personally, with what was given, I would have left the game in the abyss it was constrained in, rather than effortlessly finishing it.
Duke Nukem Forever is horrid and offers absolutely nothing for those looking to have a good time with $60. If you’re in New York City, you’re better off taking the subway/bus ($2.25) to a rundown strip club in Hunts Point ($10 cover); pay a skanky stripper named after a sugary beverage/candy $30 for a lap dance; and buy yourself a drink ($10). If you’re looking to add a pinch of violence to get the Duke Nukem Forever experience, just wait outside the strip club for a few minutes after 1 AM. It’s the Bronx, so you will get to see someone getting stabbed, shot, punched, or all of the above. And guess what? You’ll still have enough money to get back home and grab yourself some pizza. That’s $60 well spent, folks.
- Game: Duke Nukem Forever
- Platform Reviewed: PS3
- Developer: Gearbox Software/3D Realms
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Release Date: June 14, 2011
- MSRP: $59.99
- Review Copy Info: A copy of this title was provided to DualShockers, Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.