Game Review: Duke Nukem Forever
Release: June 14, 2011
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Available Platforms: 360, PS3, PCPlayers: 1 (1-4 co-op)
ESRB Rating: M
Website: Duke Nukem Forever
There’s not much that can be said about Duke Nukem Forever that hasn’t already been said, but I’m going to try my best. As most people know, DNF is a title that’s been in development somewhere in the neighborhood of fourteen years. It shows. The game is almost an interactive history lesson on the FPS genre, and that is most definitely not a good thing. Had this game come out when it was originally intended to, we may have remembered it far differently than we ultimately will. Let’s get into it…
Twelve years after saving the world, Duke’s living the life. Women want him, men want to be him- you know how it goes. Just as he was almost fifteen years ago, Duke is an over-the-top parody of the 80’s action movie hero, and the public can’t get enough. But this wouldn’t be a video game unless everything went wrong, so of course the aliens come back and hit Earth hard. Once more, the only man for the job has to save our babes.
You spend the next 8-12 hours doing your best to save said babes, and then take down the aliens once and for all, against the wishes of the President, who wants to maintain a peaceful relationship with the aliens, in spite of the destruction they’re causing. One big middle finger to the commander in chief, and you’re off and running. The loosely-stitched together levels include a TV station, an underground, alien-infested network of tunnels (by far the worst part of the game), the Duke Dome, the open country while riding your monster truck, and other locations of the Spike TV variety.
The best thing I can say about this game is that it exists, which is sad, considering the high hopes I had for it. An amazing amount of credit must be given to Randy Pitchford and Gearbox. That they jumped through the hoops they did, and stitched this thing together into a Frankenstein’s Monster of a game, is an amazing feat. To see how this thing turned out after all the twists and turns of it’s development history makes for an interesting play through experience, if nothing else.
The negatives so far outweigh the positives in DNF that I don’t even know where to start. Honestly (and I get the feeling this is how 2K and Gearbox are going to play it), the best course of action the developers can take is putting this game to bed once and for all, and move on to a modern reinvention of Duke- one that’s hopefully not as unrelentlessly “dudebro” as Forever turned out to be. At some point in the development, DNF went from laughing at itself to playing it uncomfortably straight.
The worst part of playing through Duke Nukem Forever is realizing that, save for maybe 3D Realms, there really is no one person or group of devs to blame for how it turned out. The game is what it is because it was made over the course of fourteen years, when different elements were still being fine-tuned, refined, or out and out stripped from fps’ as a whole. What worked in those games five, ten, even fifteen years ago, doesn’t work today. It’s that Forever is literally a mashup of all these things (poor ai, horrible level design, muddy textures), wrapped in terrible, juvenile writing that makes it a horrible game. Specifically in the here and now, if you’ve got the itch for a bloody, violent fps, you’ve got FEAR 3, and if you’re looking for a game with raunch and immature writing, you’ve got Shadows of the Damned. Almost anything else out on the stands today would be better worth your money than Duke Nukem Forever. Hail To The King?
-Dated game play doesn’t translate to modern sensibilities.
-Terrible writing lowers your interest even further.
-Bland levels and environments.
-Dull Multiplayer maps and modes add nothing to the replayability.
4 out of 10