Release Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: 2K Games
ESRB Rating: Mature
After spending over a decade in development, Duke Nukem Forever has finally been released to a public eager to see the return of one of gaming’s greatest heroes. Hardcore Duke Nukem fans will likely enjoy the game’s crude sense of humor, as their hero tosses back beers, visits the strip club, and delivers enough one-liners to make Bruce Campbell proud. The game does an adequate job in capturing the funhouse mirror feel of Duke Nukem’s world- a world chock full of innuendo, and enough rude and crude jokes and advertisements to keep fans of the South Park style of humor giggling. Having Duke bench press 600 pounds, hit a high score in his own “Balls of Steel” pinball machine, admire himself in the mirror, and many other activities all add a maximum bonus to Duke’s health or “ego” meter, which functions much like the shield in Halo. While these ”ego” boosting activities are good for a few laughs, they aren’t really given at a set pace and end up feeling random and out of place.
Sadly, this is where the good aspects of Duke Nukem Forever end. Unfortunately, it seems that the painfully long development cycle seems to be one of the game’s biggest problems, as much of it feels like it should have been released 10 years ago. Gamers wanting the next big FPS to tide them over until Modern Warfare 3 or the next Gears of War get released might want to skip this one, as this game plays much like an old school PC shooter with a few modern gaming concepts awkwardly tacked onto it.
The pacing can be very uneven, as I often found myself wandering for long stretches without killing anything, only to find myself running into what seemed like endless waves of Pigcops and other alien scum. The long loading times also don’t help as the frequent deaths one is bound to experience in certain spots makes repeated attempts incredibly frustrating. Frequent platforming sections also detract from the experience as Duke’s jumping feels awkward, and a lack of any sort of objective compass or map can make navigating the game world and knowing where to go next quite a chore. The graphics aren’t going to blow anyone away and there are some awkward animations throughout the game (have Duke perform a jump in front of a mirror, and you’ll see what I mean). The weapons are mostly the standard FPS fare including a pistol, a shotgun and others. The only real standouts are the freeze gun and the shrink ray, though the novelty of these wears off rather quickly. Since you are allowed to carry only two weapons at a time, you are most likely going to ditch them rather quickly.
Duke Nukem Forever does offer a few multiplayer modes that can be played online. The matches are what you’d expect from a FPS: deathmatch, king of the hill, and the like, and players are awarded xp that can be used to purchase unlockables. Jetpacks and holodukes add an interesting twist to an otherwise average multiplayer, but even these do little to compel one to keep playing.
All in all, Duke Nukem Forever has some appeal, but probably mostly toward the hardcore Duke fans that would be likely to buy this game anyway just because it has Duke Nukem in it. The rest of us may want to just play through Call of Duty again.