Review: Duke Nukem Forever
After years of thinking this game wasn’t going to come out, if finally hit. This is the real sequel to the original Duke Nukem 3D, a terrific example of how great old school shooters really were. Sure, we had several console games, such as Duke Nukem: Zero Hour and Duke Nukem: Planet of the Babes, but this is the Duke Nukem the gaming community has waited for. The question is, does it make you hail to the king, or should Gearbox blow it out their… well, you get the point.
Before we go into a lot of details, people need to realize who Duke Nukem is. I know a lot of “professional journalist” have deemed this game insanely crude and offensive. It demonstrates sexist attitudes and Middle school jokes, some of which push it too far. Let’s clear this up right now. Duke Nukem is a sexist. He’s has the bio genetics of several macho men from the 80s and 90s that a lot of us grew up loving. He’s the one man army Rambo character, and because of this, all of the ladies love him. He’s a parody of the macho men. Women are dumb in the game. They’re unable to save themselves. And in the Duke Nukem universe, they’re all whores. This is all in the name of offensive parody, sure. So we need to keep this in mind to review this game properly.
The graphics are outdated, using an older version of the Unreal Engine. It looks very similar to another 3D Realms title known as Prey. It almost feels like it would have been just fine in 2007 or 2008. For the most part, at least the frame rate doesn’t drop and is generally pretty steady. I kept hearing reports of this occurring, but for me, that was never the case. However, this isn’t the ugliest game I’ve ever seen and is very playable if you’re not a completely graphic nut. As goes for the sounds. They’re cheesy, and the voice acting is ‘meh’, but this didn’t concern me. It was liking playing through an interactive B-film.
Loading times in the game are horribly long. I had my notebook with me during the entire game because of the extremely long wait between levels. Even after a level is loaded, when you die, you have to reload back to the checkpoint. Fans of Call of Duty know that dying should be as easy as a 3-second wait and then you’re back in the action. There was one boss fight that the loading screens became so annoying, I actually had to take a break so I wouldn’t want to break the disc.
The story is the real cheese, but perfect for this universe. It’s another ‘aliens have landed’ with the Duke Nukem twist: they have stolen all the defenseless women! So the United States calls upon this one man army to help destroy the wormhole that is stealing women and summoning pig cops and other insane alien scum. You’ll go through different avenues of areas throughout the game, ranging from an outrageously fun burger joint to a more dark alien hive area.
One thing that really stands out is the way you can interact with the environment. Most shooters today are strictly shooting galleries with little (if any) interaction. Duke Nukem Forever manages to add a bit of this old flare back into the shooting. However, in this same category, you’ll be a little disappointed if you’re looking for a complete return to how the old shooters were. Most of the interactions are mini-games and a few odds and ends that you can mess with. It doesn’t feel like they evolved interactions the way they could have done. Most multiplayer interactions are missing from the game. In older PC shooters such as Redneck Rampage even, you could play a bowling mini-game during a deathmatch. Where is this type of creativity for multiplayer? Maybe next time, Duke.
This is definitely a kick back to old school shooters, but it does have some newer features that is so anti-old school, it takes the nostalgia merit away from the game. For instance, the game has a two weapon carrying limit. This is nothing like games of our past. It really limits the fun during parts of the game when you have to decide between a shrink gun or a rapid-fire rocket launcher. Another thing that ruins part of the game is regenerating health. Shooters from the 90s (since this is what the game is trying to be) would have had a health pack system, and maybe an armor system. (Also, where is the use of a jetpack?).
The biggest disappointment is from the levels themselves. They’re linear, and that’s just not how games were done back in the golden days. They’re not so direct there there’s no way to navigate differently through a level, but the giant maze fields you went through in the past are gone. I’m hoping that Gearbox actually pays attention and returns the game back to it’s roots even more next time. Hopefully in a more timely manner.
Multiplayer is a blast and is arena as arena gets. There’s even ranks and different costumes you unlock through ranks. However, no weapon unlocks. Every player starts with a pistol and you pick up weapons laid throughout the map. The only problem I had with this is you have to hold down a button to pick up weapons. It would have made more since if they would have addressed this by just removing the two-weapon holding cap. However, it’s great fun and very action oriented. There’s even a throw back level from the original Duke Nukem 3D that makes you beg for more of the same.
My final thoughts are that while the game isn’t near as good as the original 3D, it’s at least fun and worth a shot. Gearbox’s worst hit to the series was making this title $60. It’s not really worthy of that price. But it’s not the completely broken and offensive mess the “journalist” are making it out to be. It’s a Duke Nukem game with some changed elements. Hopefully, Gearbox listens to the complaints of the gaming community (and not these so-called critics) to fix the issues found in this title to make the game much more like the original.
Recommendation: Buy… when the price is cheaper.
Reviewed on the PlayStation 3.