Duke Nukem Forever PC Review

First of all, It’s only suiting that my review of Duke Nukem Forver is late.

To those of you living on Mars, Duke Nukem Forever was in development from 1996 until it was released in 2011 (Although to be fair, im sure even Martians know this).

I remember everyone debating the possibility of the game being bad, but I kept saying “Even if it IS bad, it’s Duke friggin Nukem.  I know that I’m gonna like it regardless”; I had no idea what hot water I was getting myself into.

A trip down Memory Lane

So the game picks up 12 years after the events of Duke Nukem 3D.  Actually, the game picks up as you play the last level of Duke Nukem 3d, only to find out Duke was chillin in his Duke pad playing a videogame getting a blowie from two blonde twins.
Outside the window, a giant alien mothership floats over the city… and damn it looks bad.  Not badass, just bad.
I will admit though, with all of the portraits of Duke hanging around in the first 25 minutes of gameplay, and the quotes from the man himself, my nostalgia was selling me on Duke Nukem Forever.

Turns out Duke is waiting for his visit to Johnny O’Lenoman’s talk show “Damn! It’s Late…”, and after you get in the elevator (which has 69 floors by the way), I noticed the first problem with this game….
I saw Duke in the floor to ceiling mirror in the elevator.  I start running around while looking at my badass self, and then I jump.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an animation SO rigid and… unnatural in a videogame.  Dukes arms dont move when he jumps.  He literally moves up into the air and his legs bend… it moreso looks like someone quickly floating up and then back down again.  Not a game breaker, but deffinitely a bad start.

On your way to the show you have run ins with many NPCs, and most of them have something to say… albeit non interesting things to say (but what WOULD be interesting if you were Duke Nukem?).  Although, The main problem with the NPCs  is that 90% of them are the same character model.  Is it possible to be this lazy if you have 14 years of development on a single project?  They even tried to stick sunglasses (and reading glasses) on some of them, but you knew it was the same character model.  Clearly they think the people playing this game wont notice, and thats insulting.

Be prepared to see this guy A LOT

On a nearby tv screen, a news anchor tells a story of non hostile aliens waiting in line at Duke Burger.  So far the humor of this game still had its hooks in me.  You make your way to the talkshow after signing a childs Duke Nukem book (his dad is the same male character model by the way), only to find out that the show was cancelled due to the alien appearance.  Pissed off, Duke sets out to find out what these Aliens want (clearly for his own selfishness).

This is where pretty much the best part of the entire game comes into play.  You make your way to the top floor (yup, 69) and find a Duke Museum.  There are statues of the enemies Duke faught in Duke Nukem 3D, the guns he used, and then you find a red room in the back.  Hanging on the wall are portraits of previous Duke Nukem games in screenshot form.  My nostalgia was kicked into high gear at this point, and I could really tell how much the devs loved the franchise.

I dont need a f&*cking keycard!

The story kicks off as Duke tracks down the alien bastards that blew up his ride.  They’re taking Earths chicks all over again, but not on Dukes watch.

You make your way to the Duke Cave after finding out the aliens are attacking.  After speaking with the President (who tells you to stay out of it, they dont handle things the way Duke does anymore), you make your way out to your first encounter.  At this point you are unarmed, though it turns out that Duke Nukems fists actually dont count as being “unarmed”.  Man his fists are insanely powerful!  You come up on an unsuspecting alien, and MASH!  Hes basically down in two hits.  I know Dukes strong, but according to this game, hes STRONGER THAN BULLETS.

Dukes hand to hand combat mentor

Though remembering that hilarious mirror escapade from earlier, the alien falls to the ground in a really bad death animation.  No hiding it, there is not a single enemy (or NPC) that is animated well… not one.   The gun play itself also feels outdated.  It actually feels exactly the same way Duke Nukem 3D did way back when.  Clearly nothing against the masterpiece that is Duke 3D, but controls and animations have come a LONG way since then.  This is where the game takes a massive dive into a fiery hell.

After traversing through pitch black areas, a mounted gun segment, you find yourself shrunk down to a mini-Duke size.  You hijack a kids remote controlled car and proceed to get the hell outta dodge.  At first this wasnt so bad, but this driving segment is WAY too long, and for a section at the beginning of a game, it practically kills the pacing.  The next gameplay issue is that this game is 100% linear.  Duke 3D had linearity, yet another example of how Duke 3D is better than DNF.  Lastly, the pacing in this game is downright horrible.  The whole game is essentially these three segments recycled with a couple boss fights thrown in.

Remember when I said that the story kicks off?  That was a lie, there really is no story.  Now this isnt always a bad thing.  But if the gameplay is horrible, you need something to keep you plugging away at it.

Outdated?  Blow it out your ass!

The guns are all the same ones we used back in Duke 3D.  The shrink ray gun is back, and that’s the coolest part.  Guess what though?  You can only carry two guns at any time.  Granted a lot of games do this, but it really seems like everything from the original was scaled back and dumbed down.  On that note, I don’t have anything against regenerating health either, but this game really needed health packs.

The enemies are all the same, but actually look worse in my opinion.  I prefer the sprites of Duke 3D as the horrid animations of the enemies make it useless to even have them in polygon form.  Everything just feels the same.  I felt like I had played this game before, only it was much better the last time I played it.

Duke Nukem Forever should have been released when Doom 3 came out.  It would have had a better reception, and I don’t see why it didn’t to be honest, it looks almost identical to Doom 3 (which was released in 2004, 7 years ago).  Thats a lie actually, Doom3 looks better than DNF.  Before people start whining like babies though, I was playing on PC with everything at its highest settings, NOT on a console.

OK, maybe its a step up from Doom3, but ONLY in screenshots!

Even the humor is outdated.  I love a good series of dick and fart jokes, really I do, but the amount that’s thrown at you constantly just get on your nerves.  It seemed every time you ran into a NPC, or anytime Duke did anything really, the devs thought “ok whats funny and crude that we can have so-and-so say right here?”.  The dialogue was definitely not written by someone who has a history with the comedic arts, or any art for that matter.  I’m the most unfunny person you’d ever meet, but I could still do a better job than this.

Really though, it’s hard to fault DNF for being outdated, because the honest truth is that MOST of the game was definitely made a LONG time ago.  Im sure they updated parts of it with Gearbox, but it feels like it was created in the early 2000’s.

Forever is not enough

Sadly, the gameplay is my biggest gripe with Duke Nukem forever, and clearly we all know that can destroy an otherwise great game.  At its most basic level, the way a game plays determines how well it will be recieved.  Duke Nukem Forever has high aspirations and great ideas, but who cares about all that if the most important part is half assed?

I feel bad for 3D Realms and Gearbox as they had a lot of hype to live up to.  DNF was never going to live up to the expectations, but the fact that it fell short of those expectations by such a huge margin is what most people are upset with.  Seeing something you grew up with updated in such a poor manner just hurts.  Imagine for example a Smurfs CGI movie was greenlit…

Theres been quite a large amount of bad press for this game, and I really hate to add to it.  I think everyone’s just upset because Duke 3D was so much fun, and was a landmark of PC FPS gaming.  If it were just fun, I could look past the bad humor and game direction but it’s not.  Theres no real focus either, which is weird since the whole game is a linear hand holding session of Dukes world.

The way I see it, is that Gearbox wanted to take the reins and make a Duke Nukem game.  They knew they’d never be able to make a Duke Nukem game without it being called Duke Nukem Forever, and therefore took what they had and released it.  I imagine they are planning a REAL Duke game, and I have faith in Gearbox despite this failure of a game.  I think they just wanted this behind them, at least I hope thats the case.

I will sum up this entire review with 3 words: It’s not fun.

+ Nostalgia
+ Museum of Duke
+ The first 25 minutes

– Overplayed raunchy humor
– Horrible animations, visually oudated
– Bad controls
– 100% Linear


Posted on July 16, 2011, in Editorial, Home, Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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