Duke Nukem Forever Review
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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.
- The occasional enjoyable action sequence
- The shrinking segments add a nice twist to the proceedings
- The nostalgia factor
- The bland and repetitive levels
- The poor platforming sections and frustrating load times
- The subpar visuals and audio
(continued from previous page) ...to jump around from ledge to ledge, or balance his weight on narrow walkways.
Actually, I take that all back; the real frustration is not just the platforming sections, but the obnoxiously long load times. These wouldn’t prove as frustrating if I were waiting for the game to render a sumptuous visual showcase, lengthy levels, interesting cinematics, or anything slightly worth making the player doze off for a bit, but DNF is practically devoid of any elements to justify such absurd load times. Some people would say this is a dumb complaint, and while I won’t claim that it ruins the experience, it just turns the game into a chore.
There are some redeeming qualities, of course. For instance, the levels where you play as a pint-sized Duke help relieve the monotony and actually make the dull puzzles somewhat interesting. I especially liked the level in The Duke Burger because it highlighted the two things the game does well: offer an enormously un-charming helping of Duke-nostalgia and feature some mildly enjoyable (dare I say fun) shrunken puzzle and platforming sections. This level was fun for a good 10 minutes, and that’s saying a lot.
Despite the lack of variety, enemies in DNF are somewhat decent and surprisingly competent; some of them will charge you for a full-on attack, while others will teleport right behind you to take Duke by surprise. When you finally do get to shoot something, it’s generally refreshing—but, that could have more to do with the fact the game often neglects much of the standout action segments involved in a proper first-person shooter. Since you only carry two weapons, Duke feels like he’s playing the whole story with a tight little skirt on compared to the Duke we all knew and loved—he could hold whatever the hell he wanted. Other highlights include shooting spaceships via your helicopter (or some form of airship). Again, these levels are enjoyable simply because you are actually doing something half exciting.
Any attempt to make DNF feel like a mature game—you know, the kind for adults—is absolutely lost on really poor character designs and bland graphics. Killing aliens is like shooting a refrigerator. Stuff just sort of explodes on screen and there is a serious problem with hit detection. Violence isn’t really a mature subject anymore; hell, just turn your TV on and either watch the local news or your favorite cop drama and you’ll find more blood and gore than in DNF. What is still unacceptable, at least here in the overly conservative-American society, is boobies, even crappy pixilated versions. Duke has always given us some rude, macho catch phrases, and he is sure a stickler for strippers—he still is, thankfully. When you get to his strip club, about halfway through the game, you are rewarded with one of the most bizarre moments in recent gaming. Picture this: A fetch quest in a strip club where girls are not taking their clothes off. That is somehow supposed to either be funny like a throwback or something, or oddly sexual. It’s neither of these things and it will likely remind you that Duke has now turned into that creepy old man from Family Guy -- you know, the guy who whistles while he talks and has a hard-on for Chris. Yup, Duke is just a creepy old man.
Perhaps there are some people out there who find this stuff entertaining, and I’ll admit that there were a few moments I laughed—but that may have been out of psycho-frustration-syndrome. DNF tries very hard to be all about its lead character, reminding us aging gamers that we once thought this passed as quality gaming. But, I tell you, back in the day, Duke was awesome. He just lost his way. Maybe it’s something that you either get or don’t get, but even if you get him, the core game is just really dull.
The tacked-on multiplayer, including standard deathmatch and capture the flag modes, are all well and fine, but that’s if you can even find a match. If you can, hopefully it doesn’t lag out too badly. For what it’s worth, there are some serious issues with graphics and sound throughout the game—namely that the presentation is simply incredibly poor. That doesn’t ... (continued on next page)