Duke Nukem Forever Review

  • Posted June 16th, 2011 at 19:10 EDT by Adam Dolge

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Duke Nukem Forever

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The aging loud-mouth hero does not take himself too seriously in Duke Nukem Forever, and neither should you. Overall, nostalgia simply is not enough to save this bland and repetitive shooter.

We like

  • The occasional enjoyable action sequence
  • The shrinking segments add a nice twist to the proceedings
  • The nostalgia factor

We dislike

  • The bland and repetitive levels
  • The poor platforming sections and frustrating load times
  • The subpar visuals and audio

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

People are pretty cynical these days. They love anything that reminds them of their idyllic youth, even if their younger selves would laugh straight in their faces for still thinking PBR is worth the day-after colon cleanse, or somehow the thick-rimmed glasses they wore in first-grade are still hip. Chances are extremely likely that people are reluctant to accept something new or logical, like finally getting a normal 9-5 job, actually liking the local sports team, or agreeing with your dad about the best shingles for your roof. Gamers tend to follow this trend to the extreme. Put Mario in a crummy Facebook game and suddenly millions of 30-year-olds are finally admitting that even Nintendo has sold out to the social media empire. Yet somehow that same crew indoctrinates their kids with stories of the Golden Age of gaming, downloading emulators to show why the original 8-bit versions will always top their mobile phone counterpart.

We are a brash bunch that either wants our games brilliantly designed with deep narratives that mirror our lost youth, or we just want to blow some steam off by shooting virtual opponents in the latest re-polished triple-A title from a well-known developer. Troll around any forum (PSU is a great place to start) and you’ll get a lecture about why these hugely successful games have nothing on their first-party exclusives. So when it came time to check out Duke Nukem Forever, a game with as much hype and anticipation as LeBron James, it’s hard not to carry a certain level of expectation. But just like LeBron, somehow all the hype associated with Duke Nukem did absolutely nothing for its actual performance in the end.

If you were to jump into DNF with absolutely no knowledge of the character and the franchise’s history, you’ll probably tell your friends, “Hey, do you want to play a really mediocre first-person sci-fi shooter with a ridiculously cheesy main character, some decent levels, and obnoxiously long load times?” If they say no, just tell them they can see some virtual boobies and maybe they’ll think it’s at least worth trying for a few minutes.

The problem with the above scenario is that we all know Duke Nukem, we all have some basic knowledge of the incredibly long development cycle of this game, and we all really, really wanted it to be that perfect throwback to our happy 13-year-old selves. But even my prepubescent self wouldn’t enjoy DNF and I have a feeling that today’s teenagers would much rather play Angry Birds or slay some newbies in one of those re-polished FPS I mentioned earlier. Yes, cut through all the hype, the name on the package, and all those happy memories with the crude-and-rude hero and we are left with an easily forgettable game.

Most of the gameplay is upgraded, but not necessarily for the better. While there’s a decent assortment of weapons, you can only carry two at a time, and even though you get rocket launchers and shrink rays, the shotgun is still the most useful tool in your hands. Guns feel mostly useless, especially since Duke does really well when he’s just punching aliens in the face like a true American hero. Even boss battles seem a bit off. You generally need to use rocket launchers against bosses, but you will always have unlimited ammo to play with, and your main strategy is to either hide behind cover and shoot, or simply run circles around the lumbering boss monstrosity and shoot. Rinse, wash and repeat.

Duke Nukem Forever tries to do too many things for its own good. Some levels have Duke driving his truck through what feels like endless deserts, while others see the brute painfully trying to jump around alien-like vines in horrendous platforming sections. One of the most sleep-inducing portions of the game has Duke driving his truck, before running out of gas and subsequently searching for a source to replenish the fuel. This part drags on and on for no good reason, and comes off as repetitive as dismal handful of recycled monsters you fight throughout the entire game. Having said that, the platforming sections of the game are arguably the most irritating aspect of DNF, because Duke just wasn’t meant to jump around ... (continued on next page)

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  • Related game: Duke Nukem Forever

    Release date (US):
    June 14th, 2011
    3D Realms
    Shooter - First Person
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