Duke Nukem Forever
Developed by: Gearbox Software
Published by: 2K Games
Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: First-person shooter
Rating: M for Mature
My job as a reviewer is somewhat simple. I play video games, I write reviews and give my stamp of approval on it or tell you to pass on it. I play every video game I review as a consumer first, then as a critic. With that said, I had some frat boy type of fun with Duke Nukem Forever. However, like the clueless babes featured throughout the game, this is not the kind of game you'd want to consider for a long-term relationship.
Gearbox Software - yes, that Gearbox, the developers who are responsible for hits like Halo, Borderlands and Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway finished up the final touches on the shooter, which has been in development since 1997 - yes, you are reading that correctly - and finally released today. The last time Duke graced gamers with his presence, it was 1996 on the PC. Here's a hint - I was still in college in 1996. Bill Clinton had just entered his second term as president and the song Macarena was blazing the Billboard charts. Resident Evil, Quake, Metal Slug, Super Mario 64, Tomb Raider and Diablo were all released in 1996. So, you'd think 3D Realms wouldn't dare release a dated shooter and charge people full price for it, right?
When I first started playing DNF, I was immediately transported back to 1996. Everything about the game oozed old skool. That's fine - I remember the old DN, so I knew what I was in for - frat-boy horror - ala Animal House, off-color jokes, potty mouth humor and the like. To expect more was really a stretch.
The game intro sets the stage for carnage. Leg here, head there. Be forewarned - it only gets more visceral. As you walk past objects scattered around the bathroom - or interact with the objects, you can earn EGO - basically your health bar. The EGO expands whenever you do certain tasks for the first time. You can belt a punching bag - or slam a cold one - and get EGO. Finally, Duke makes it to a dry erase board and is asked to devise a plan to defeat a monster. Sadly, this is where most of the humor ends.
I didn't expect to be visually pleased. I expected a dated shooter with funny moments. It's not meant to be serious at all - and pokes at major game franchises like Halo (which I find funny, seeming Gearbox released Halo for the PC) and celebs like Justin Timberlake and Christian Bale. No spoilers here, but catch this - when your fists are shown in the game, you can punch the person/creature/obstacle in front of you.
The sexual references in DNF are over the top. Not only are the Mary and Kate Twins - LOL - not wearing undies and down with some action, but wander off far enough and you'll find yourself spying a nake babe here or there or head on down to Casino Fellatio. Exactly.
Like any other shooter made after kill.switch, cover is your friend. When you are getting shot or mauled by these super pigs, you will need to find a spot to regain EGO. Once your EGO is depleted, it's 4:30. The controls work ok, though it was a pain to try locking on to moving objects with the pistols. The rifles, as well as the shotgun, often snapped to the nearest enemy. However, for the bigger bosses, you'll need to use explosives and turrets to take them out.
Controlling the vehicles and turrets can be tricky as well. One area that really irritated me was the R/C car level. While it was fun to play, controlling the car was another story.
Editor's note: I haven't taken the game online, but will do so this evening and will update it with my final assessment.
The graphics are dated - maybe the studios who worked on DNF were aiming for the nostalgic look and feel. Too bad they overshot it. Seriously.
Audio is good, though not great. Duke is raunchy, so don't expect anything remotely close to the Sermon on the Mount. I would highly recommend if you do play this game, to make sure children and even young teens aren't around, nor in earshot while Duke is laying down some colorful metaphors.
It is never a deal moment listening to Duke go on ... and on ... and on about how awesome he is. The constant references to video gamers are numerous, but one really stood out. Hit the videos below to see the humor, Nukem style.
These videos NSFW and aren't kid friendly, so you have been forewarned. Forward to 1:19 on the WoW video to see/hear the reference.
The game is fun, but when you look at the delay to bring it to consoles, and how many other shooters offer much more than DNF and the horrendous load screens, you'll likely feel like you've strolled for a few days at the Trinity site in New Mexico. The game would have worked great on PSN or Xbox LIVE as a download only title for $20. I am trying to ask myself why I would pay $60 for this game - and I can't think of a single reason to. The plot is dated - aliens return to Las Vegas, pissed that Duke wiped the floor with them, and is ready to do it again. The toilet humor gets old really fast. Of course, anyone who knows Duke's history knows what to expect. It shouldn't be a shock when you see a voluptuous mom in the game sporting a Got Milf? in the game. No, but here's the thing - why was it delayed to bring a game this unpolished to the masses several years later? Plus - why charge full price for it?
The video game will sell tons, no doubt. But the brand has been dealt a hard blow with this release.
The game reminds me of a lot of the groupies - and the Twins - in the game. It's mindless fun for a while - you'll enjoy the frat boy humor and will likely say a few Duke quotes for days to come. ('Touch it,' 'Let God sort 'em out' and 'Dammit, Leeroy!' come to mind) But, it's not the kind of game that you'll likely revisit after finishing it. Plus, you'll be kicking yourself for paying the sticker price for this piece of work.
The verdict? 4.5 (out of 10) Yes, it was fun to throw a dumbbell at an alien. Yes, it's funny to blast aliens and look *hot* while I'm doing it. Yes, hearing Duke say "I'm bringing sexy back" is a riot, but all of that can't save DNF from the thing models and female celebs run from - age. It was hyped to unreal levels - and didn't even come close to living up to the hype. Hmmmm ... reminds me of another royal ... promising things he couldn't deliver.
Enjoy it - and skip this dud. If you have to play it, rent it.