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Duke Nukem Forever Review

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Developer: Gearbox Software Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: June 14, 2011 Available On: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360

It has been 15 years since the last Duke Nukem game hit store shelves. Fans have eagerly anticipated the release of Duke Nukem Forever since it was unveiled to the public in 1997, only to be disappointed by delays and financial trouble for the developer. Despite the lengthy development cycle, Duke Nukem Forever has finally arrived.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. The gaming press has been absolutely brutal to this game. You would think that it was unplayable if you were to believe the 3’s, 4’s and 5’s that other sites have scored it. This game is not going to win any awards, but to rate a game based on its length of development and not the quality of content is entirely unfair.

To be clear, Duke Nukem Forever is a flawed game in many respects. Some of the design choices are baffling and you will often be confused about what to do next. Much of this can be blamed on the fact that Duke Nukem Forever switches between shooter, puzzle and platforming elements constantly. There is also a decent amount of vehicular play that really does not belong here.

The game picks up with a tutorial level of sorts. You are actually playing as Duke playing a video game that features himself. After saving the planet, Duke has become a global celebrity. In this level, which is a recreation of the final level from Duke Nukem 3D, you learn the ropes. Once you finish the game, you find yourself in the “Duke Cave” with two scantily clad females fawning over you. Expect lots of sexual innuendo, boobs and misogyny.

From here you learn that Earth is being attacked again and Duke has to protect it. The president wants to negotiate with the aliens and orders Duke to stand down, but you won’t have any of that. It’s too late anyway as the aliens have infiltrated Duke’s compound. Frankly, it’s a rather slow start to a Duke Nukem game. The first hour or two of gameplay is spent learning the mechanics and building a storyline. My guess is that a lot of reviewers stopped playing here and didn’t get to the better parts.

Speaking of better parts, Duke Nukem Forever proves to be a basic, yet fun shooter. You come equipped with rifles, a shotgun and a numb of explosive weapons. In fact, bosses only take damage using explosives. There is a lot of bloody carnage, but it gets interrupted all too often with annoying platforming and puzzle solving. I guess the developers thought it would be cute to allow Duke to shrink in size to about 1/8 his size, but a lot of times these parts just leave you wondering what to do.

The most enjoyable part of Duke Nukem Forever is by far the boss fights. They are not overly complicated and essentially once you find the weak spot of the boss, you are more or less in luck. These oversized creatures remind you of the good old days back in the 90s when every level had its own unique boss fight, unlike today, when you can go an entire game without encountering a single one.

The game has a number of pick-ups such as the pipe bomb, laser mines, steroids, beer and a “holoduke”. The pipe bomb is exactly what it sounds like and substitutes for a grenade that you’d find in most shooters. Laser mines prove to be effective tools during boss fights when smaller secondary enemies attack you. Beer basically makes Duke take more damage; while steroids give him “roid rage” and you can go berserk with melee attacks. Finally, the holoduke is a hologram that distracts enemies.

Some of the more unique stuff in the game include the health bar, which of course for Duke is actually his ego. You increase the size of his ego (and thus your health) by interacting with the world in a way that is pleasing to Duke. This includes looking at yourself in the mirror, lifting weights, perusing porn magazines and punching alien tits. It can be cumbersome to look for things to do in order to increase your ego bar, but it doesn’t detract from the experience too much. A lot of it can be humorous as well.

The best thing I can say about Duke Nukem Forever is that it has fun bits of action, some pretty decent boss fights and stays true to the franchise. This is balanced (in a negative way) by some poor design decisions, annoying gameplay mechanics and an extremely short campaign. You could easily beat the game in a single sitting. If you have a Redbox nearby, this is worth a day’s rental but nothing more.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 6 out of 10
Written by Kyle Bell Write a User Review