Duke Nukem Forever
AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.6 Ghz
AMD Radeon HD 3850
Duke Nukem - the man, the myth, the legend. After a long period of silence, Duke returned with a game filled with action, explosions, guts and of course, dick jokes...was the 21st Century willing to accept The Duke with open arms?
In 1996 I was first introduced to a Mr. Duke Nukem. An over the top, womanising, foul mouthed gaming action hero. Duke Nukem 3D was the first shooter I ever played and I instantly fell in love with it. I loved the humour, the gameplay - everything.
Fast forward to 1999 - Duke Nukem: A Time to Kill was released on the PlayStation. Whereas Duke 3D was a First Person Shooter, A Time to Kill was a Third Person Shooter. Now, I wasn't a huge fan of the switch to Third Person, but I was willing to give it a go. I have to admit, I enjoyed the game a LOT, but it just didn't have what made Duke 3D so special. I needed a new Duke game that made me fall in love with the series all over again. Duke Nukem Forever should have been that game.
Development started way back in 1996, but it soon became an industry wide joke due to countless delays (plus the irony of it’s name) and many had given up all hope that it would ever see the light of day. Then in 2010 it was confirmed that DNF was being developed by GearBox. Being a huge fan of Borderlands (a previous GearBox game), I had high hopes for Duke Nukem Forever. Hopes that would soon be painfully destroyed. Finally released in June 2011, DNF clearly was not the game Duke fans expected (or wanted).
The Duke brings out the adult in you
DNF takes place 12 years after Duke Nukem 3D with Duke being known worldwide as a hero. Well, the aliens make a public return to Earth, apparently "in peace". It's soon apparent that this is not the case and Duke is attacked by the aliens who have a personal vendetta against Mr. Nukem. But what pisses Duke off the most - they're taking our Babes! The story is nothing special, but I personally think fans of Duke don't really play the games expecting a hugely in depth and complex story.
Although released in 2011, DNF is a first person shooter which is more akin to the shooters of the 90's. Over the top weaponry, cheesy dialogue, and most levels ending with a big boss battle which usually takes no more than a few minutes of circle strafing while launching a never ending barrage of rockets until said boss is dead.
There’s also a fair amount of interactivity in the world of DNF, but it seems they wanted you to see it all during the first hour or so and not so much later on in the game. Mirrors, a gym, pinball tables, air hockey, glory holes, usable whiteboards, vibrators, boob slapping, RC car driving, monster truck driving and even poo throwing. Interacting with things in the game give Duke an “Ego Boost” which increases the size of Duke's health bar, allowing Duke to take more damage. Also, I must point out at this point that gone are health packs and replaced with regenerating health - much to the disdain of many people. Many of these things are fun to do, but like I said, it’s pretty much all crammed into the first hour or so of play.
Never one to shy away from vanity
DNF contains some puzzles to solve, such as physics based puzzles involving weighted barrels and other pretty basic puzzles to solve. Oh, and say "bye bye" to coloured key cards, these are no more!
To be fair to the game, the gameplay isn't that bad. I did have fun playing the game but only in short bursts. Due to unimpressive level design, repetitive enemies, many turret sequences and Duke's constant one liners (which can be humorous but do get quite annoying) a lengthy session on DNF and I think my brain would start dripping out of my nose.
Now, I'm not going to beat down the game too harshly when I talk about the overall presentation as I've never thought about Duke Nukem games as graphical masterpieces, but games that I expect to have a huge amount of fun playing. Having said that, DNF is a pretty poorly presented game by today's standards. Extremely bland textures, below average animations, poor voice acting that is only occasionally redeemed by the man behind Duke - Jon St John. I have no problem with his actual voice acting in this game but the script. Jokes often miss the mark, Duke's self obsession begins to annoy after about 2 hours of hearing it and to be honest I think the offensiveness, the adult humour and the whole 2011 Duke character suffer from "try too hard syndrome".
Lately, many games tack on multiplayer features that quickly die off soon after release, but I was expecting something more from DNF's multiplayer. I was to be disappointed. Deathmatch, Capture the Babe, and King of the Hill modes are all present. Capture the Babe tries to change things up a bit by replacing the traditional "flag" to capture, with a scantily clad babe, who you must keep calm now and again with a slap on the ass. Unfortunately, none of the modes actually try very hard to stand out from the overcrowded multiplayer scene.
The only incentive for actually spending time online is the "Digs" - Duke's crib which you can fill with games, statues, babes and other interactive things. You earn these by leveling up online. There's also a very basic Duke customisation menu where you change headgear and vest.
In closing, DNF would have, probably, been better received had it been released half the time ago. The poor presentation, unimpressive campaign, some unwelcome gameplay changes, regenerating health, and mediocre multiplayer all make for a pretty below average game. It's sad to say, but, Duke has struggled to impress when he should have been hailed, once more, as The King.
- Can't touch this... oh wait, you can: Plenty of interactivity with objects in the world
- Hail to the King.... but nobody else!!: Voice acting, overall, is poor with some very hit or miss one-liners. Duke however isn't TOO bad
- Slow and steady didn't win the race: An over the top FPS that lost its way during the huge time between announcement and release
- You're one ugly mother fu-......: Poor textures and poor animations make up the far below average graphics for a game released in 2011
- Scooby Doo Syndrome: Repetitive enemies and a few too many turret sequences tend to hinder the overall gameplay
- Better off alone: Multiplayer is extremely forgettable.
Before Gearbox announced that it was taking over the Duke Nukem franchise most of us probably weren’t expecting to hear from Duke anymore. When we were told that we are going to see forever after all probably most of us weren’t expecting anything breath-taking. Mediocrity or worse is almost a rule with a long development times and Duke is no exception.
DNF is the definition of average! The visuals are average, the level design is average, the sounds are average, the campaign and multiplayer is average and so on. It’s not a bad game and there aren’t a lot of game-breaking bugs or glitches. Everything works as intended but while playing the game you can see that the game has a heritage of countless game mechanics witch evolved and changed over the years. Even with all the mediocrity Duke Nukem Forever has some fun and funny moments and nice touches like the Crib in the MP section.