Finally, after countless delays, and over a decade of development hell, we finally have Duke Nukem Forever. This is a game that has been in the making for a LONG time now. Longtime fans of the series have been patiently waiting for this to be released, and people new to the series now have an idea of why it is so talked about.
Let’s get all the normal stuff out of the way here. Now, before you ask, I’m not going to go into the LONG story of why DNF took so long to come out. If you want to read it, it is here, and it isn’t that bad of a read if you are really into game history like myself. That aside, I will give development credit to a few companies here, and they are: 3D Relams, Triptych Games, Piranha Games, and Gearbox Software. The game is rated M for a LOT of violence, harsh language, and nudity. Before I get into the review, I want to point this out. Until this game, I had NEVER played a Duke Nukem game before. Keep that in mind, as when I make certain points, you might be curious as to why I didn’t see that in a previous game, or miss a certain reference here and there. I missed out on the first two games, as I’m a long-time console gamer. Couple that, with the fact that when Duke Nukem 3D hit the consoles, I really didn’t care to play them. So this is my first experience with the franchise.
The jist of the game is this. You play Duke Nukem, you kill a lot of aliens, hit on girls, and try to be the most masculine man ever. It is a first-person shooter with 3rd person vehicle segments spread through the game.
There are a lot of overly-negative reviews about DNF hitting the internet right now, and I want to make the point clear that it “isn’t THAT bad.” There are problems with the game, as there are problems with almost all games. Some highlights of the game are these. Starting off is the game’s length, which is what most FPS games should be. Depending on what difficulty you play on, and your skill level with shooters, this game clocks in around 8-12 hours. Certainly more than the “makes you feel robbed” 6-8 hours of most FPS games released nowadays (yes, I’m looking DIRECTLY at you Call of Duty.) It feels like a long game, which is good.
Seeing as this was a game originally made for the late 90′s, it kinda plays like that. This is a FPS game, that doesn’t have a cover-system, or bullet-time. I can greatly appreciate that as it seems most games nowadays just have to include it. Another great thing in this game is the amount of detail of things you can interact with in the world, if even for no reason. See a water fountain? Use it. See that shower, turn it on. Why? Who cares, you CAN, that’s enough reason. It really adds nothing to the game, but why the hell not, it’s Duke Nukem. With this is a few mini games you can play that unlock bonuses in the game (more “ego” which is more health,) as well as achievements/trophies. If you get a high enough score in pinball, you get more health, and an achievement. Or just run by that pinball machine, who cares why it’s there or if you can interact with it.
The last thing I’ll point out on the good list is this. Duke has arms and legs. Oh my God what a concept. In this day and age of ever evolving video games, why do we have so many shooters where all you control is a camera? Where are your characters legs and arms? Although I’d NEVER say this game is better than Half-Life 2, it is always something that bothered me that Gordon Freeman doesn’t have hands, so when you drive the car, the steering wheel just moves on it’s own. To me, it just seems like laziness by the developers. Duke has limbs. Good job.
You will notice I really only touched on details in “the good” and there is a reason. This game really isn’t that fun to play. Ya, it’s long, and it’s a shooter, and all that… it’s just kinda boring. The story doesn’t matter. Aliens arrive, go kill. Big deal. Now, I played this on the Xbox 360, so I didn’t have a super PC with the resolution all the way up. The graphics are… not good. The character models are missing a lot of detail, everyone looks like a barbie doll. They just have that hard plastic look to them. This goes from the “hot babes” in the games, to the aliens you fight. Sure there is the exception of the boss characters, which aren’t that bad… but the pig-thing you kill a billion times all look bad. This game also suffers from skins and textures taking a while to load once the game is playing. And once they are loaded, you better hope there aren’t too many of them on screen at once or things…slow…down. This game has a serious problem of chugging down once you have a lot going on.
In “the good,” I mentioned how it plays like an older game. Now that wasn’t a bad thing, but this is. For an older style game, they shouldn’t have put in a regenerating health system. I know I’m just going to sound like a cranky old-guy here, but what’s wrong with health/armor packs, and why are they gone now? That’s just me picking on a minor detail, but I felt that the regenerating health in the game just didn’t fit.
Something I’ll say I really didn’t like in the game (and this is strictly my opinion on this one,) is the “variety” of levels you get in the game. In-between run & gun levels, you are put into vehicle segments… which I hate. Also, various parts of the game where you are shrunk down to a tiny version of Duke. These parts are nothing but a way to throw you into a jumping puzzle segment of the game… which I also hate in FPS games (Half-Life and Tron 2.0 are 2 examples of this,) and the underwater levels. In these gems, you get to balance killing everything, while constantly be having to watch your oxygen level. It reminded me of the frustration of water levels in Sonic the Hedgehog. But, like I said, this paragraph here is just me bitching.
Two last things here. One is the “humor” in the game. This game really didn’t do anything that made me laugh. There were stupid jokes everywhere, let’s just say my eyes got tired from rolling so much. Aah yes… a “balls” joke. Got it. Yes, yes, that’s funny. Can we move on please? And with all of this… and I know this is one of the trademarks of Duke Nukem… the one-liners. So all of the cheesy lines Duke spits out through the game, I have heard them in movies that I love… and they are better in those movies. Yes, you are the Duke, you are A number 1. Well, that’s great and all… but you stole that from Escape From New York (one of my all time fav movies,) and to me it is like “you stole that… stop it.” I just don’t see the point to have all of these “great” sayings if they are just recycled movie lines. This game is nowhere near as funny as they think it is. And with that? You get these lines SO MUCH that you get kinda frustrated after a while. I mean… you can only hear “Porkchop sandwiches” so many times before it gets annoying.
The last thing I’ll mention directly in the bad list is the load times. OH SWEET BABY JESUS the load times in this game. I was playing it on the Xbox 360, off of the disc. I didn’t install it to my drive or anything. Let’s say I miss a jump on one of the “super fun” jumping levels… that’s a re-load of 35 seconds. You might thing “35 seconds, that’s it?” Ya… 35 seconds. EVERY TIME ANYTHING happens. You die, 35 seconds. New level? 35 seconds. After you die a few times, it gets frustrating, not because you died, but now you are waiting 35 seconds to re-load where you JUST WERE. I spoke with a friend of mine who said I really needed to install it to my 360′s drive as it buts the load down to 15-16 seconds… but my drive is really low on space and you know what? I shouldn’t have to. NO OTHER GAMES (in this day and age) load as piss-poorly as this does… unless you are on the PS3, and I’m not going there.
All in all, it has it’s problems, but I don’t think it deserves the horrible reviews other sites are giving it. It is playable, longer than other shooters, and no game-breaking bugs. I’m thinking the mere length of it’s development time has clouded a lot of judgement on the game as people were expecting this amazing game to be released, and were disappointed. That being said, for a game this long in development, it wasn’t THAT great either. The game just isn’t that fun, that that is what hurts it more than anything. It is a very standard shooter that tries too hard to be funny.
I would also like to say that this game wants to be a very over-the-top, crazy, insane shooter. Well… Bulletstorm came out a few months ago, and was WAY better at doing all of that. It was crazier, bloodier, and WAY funnier… and Bulletstorm didn’t have to ripoff any movies to be that way.
Nerd Junkies Review: 6/10
-It’s a longer experience than most shooters today
-That experience should have been a lot better after all of this time.