Ya'ver drink Brazilian bold from fkn dunkn donuts!
13 years in the making and it was finally released. 13 years of development turmoil, engine changes, and lawsuits Duke Nukem Forever has finally been released to the masses of frothing fanboys and cynical windbags who have been vehemently claiming the game will suck since its announcement back in the late 90's. There aren't too many games who have had the prestige of being a laughing stock of the gaming world, yet somehow 3D Realms, Triptych, Piranha Games and Gearbox Software have managed to pull everything together and get that **** out the door. Randy Pitchford couldn't contain his excitement for the game, his hype alone has been enough to keep the faith in the almighty Duke, one thing is for certain though, despite its wonderful history, Duke Nukem Forever is a game that will no doubt be remembered as a catastrophic mess.
I've been wanting to pay this game for such a long time, Duke Nukem was a phenomenal game to play back in the 90's, in the initial rush of proper 3D games like Quake and Unreal, Duke Nukem managed to shine with its beautiful looks, solid level design, super tight and fast paced action and a slightly taboo edge with strippers and boobies, as a 10 year old all of this was nothing short of perfection. The Duke himself is what we all remember as being great, his movie one liners were instantly memorable, and the air he gave off as a complete badass was never questionable.
It's quite disappointing that DNF manages to be almost the complete polar opposite of the legend that is DN3D.
The basic story of DNF is that Duke Nukem is still riding on the celebrity of his previous victory over the aliens, when he's not busy getting blowjobs off of the Wholesome Twins, he's doing TV interviews and sitting on his royal throne in his casino hotel suite. At least that is the gist I got, the painful truth is that the whole opening of the game is centred around Dukes stupid ego and everyone around him is pandering him with stupidity. I guess the approach is to try and re-establish that he is 'the king, baby' and he is the uber male, however all that comes across is that he is an arrogant douchebag. So far I am not liking being Duke.
Optimus let himself go in the later years.
Anyway during one of the interviews he was schedules to be in it gets cancelled, as the aliens have returned. After a painfully long unskippable section where you speak with the president, who wants to make friendly contact and with the general of the U.S. Army, the aliens start attacking your hotel, and you must kick their ass and chew bubblegum or something, so off Duke goes to kill some aliens. Along the way they start to steal earths women and Duke doesn't like that so he must do something about it. The rather vague set up and its painful execution so far hasn't given me the best impression. Maybe the gameplay will make me feel better.
Unfortunately it doesn't. Where in the past Duke was exceptionally fast, which was a solid tool in engaging in some great fire fights, the new Duke is exceptionally slow, he cannot run very far without becoming puffed and tired, and sprinting is wholeheartedly a waste of effort. Aiming is also rather sludgy, what the hell is going on here? Maybe the guns still kick rear end, and maybe the presence of the mighty boot will calm my nerves.
Nope, they don't help one bit. Previously, Duke could carry an arsenal of heavy firepower, from triple barrelled machine guns, to rocket launchers, to freeze and shrink rays, the weaponry was always sharp and to the point, in DNF they are cumbersome and too much effort AND you may only hold onto two weapons at a time.
I'll just say that again in case anyone missed it, you can only carry two weapons at a time. Yes the almighty Duke not only is Duke slow, he seems to be too weak to carry more than two weapons. Did someone replace his steroids for tic tacs? The problem lies in the way they affect the bad guys, the freeze ray for instance, it has rechargeable ammo which is pretty cool, except it takes a long time and it only has 200 units to work with. Unfortunately those 200 units are only good enough to take down maybe two or three enemies at once, and only if they are in close range.
Ok baby, I can dig that role play ****
It gets worse, the shrink ray is a real pain in the ass to be used effectively, once you shoot a guy with it and he becomes small, that guy can still do full damage to you with his gun, except now you have to run into his fire to step on him, which is about as unsatisfying as can be. The mighty boot is all that's left, that must be the only thing that will tie Duke to the gold school of gameplay. Unfortunately it barely makes an appearance. Yes the iconic mighty boot has been reduced to a quick time attack, when you incapacitate an enemy, they drop to their knees, so you have to run up to him and boot him to finish him off. Doing so will restore your health, but the whole thing is so bland I rarely ever used it.
Makin, baco....oh why do I even bother.
So far, Duke is unlikable, he controls badly and his weapons are weak, perhaps the level design can save some of this train wreck? Well, no it can't, not entirely anyway.
If you've ever seen a guide book or map for level design for games from the 1990's it is sufficient to say that a great deal of time has gone into creating an level that is varied, well planned and entirely explorable, it wouldn't be enjoyable to find all those hidden key cards otherwise, Duke Nukem Forever abandons this type of level design and instead has opted for a more linear approach with some set pieces thrown in. There are some neat little distractions, there is an entire level which is a strip joint where you can play pool, air hockey, shoot hoops, gamble and even play pinball. Little interactions like these increase your health and suffice it to say are rather enjoyable to get caught up in.
The rest of the time you are stuck with enemies that spawn in increasingly dull ways, either from a drop ship or just appearing out of thin air. It doesn't help that the animations for the pig cops are incomplete, but killing them over and over again in a dull hall way, or out in the open west is completely lacking in any form of originality or entertainment that the whole experience is shallow and unsatisfying.
At times there are cool spots, like when you are in a tipped over portable office and you get to witness pig cops climbing over adjacent fences and your only source of refuge as you blast them away. Or when you are in a dam with walkways and enemies all around you, which creates a nice little fire fight scenario, at these points Duke Nukem Forever threatens to be fun, but then the experience is stopped and its back to exploring empty hallways and solving rudimentary physics puzzles that may have been entertaining in 2002, but are a bore in 2011.
So the level design is also severely lacking, there has to be something salvageable from this mess? Unfortunately there isn't, Duke Nukem Forever is plain and simple, a poor game with poor taste. There is a level called the hive, where you encounter all the captured babes, who incidentally are being raped by the environment. When you encounter the wholesome twins who are blocking your path, they explain what has happened, only for Duke to wryly retort with "well looks like your...****ed?" at which point I gave up trying to find anything likeable about the Duke. Then they explode and tiny aliens attack you.
This was the lowest point of the entire game, at no point is anything that happens likeable and the Duke, who we all thought was a guy who wanted to save all the babes from the aliens came across as a sociopathic and apathetic moron who at that point completely abandoned one of the objectives of the game, and one of the cornerstone character points that makes up Duke. Since he doesn't care, why should we? We are supposed to be the hero, not a sperging *******.
I've got balls of fail.
Graphically the game looks broken, there seems to be missing colour pallets, shaders to give some illusion of a vibrant world, or special effects to give some degree of zazz. What we have is a game that looks like it is still in alpha testing, running on the Doom 3 engine, except it can't hold a completely stable framerate. To put it short the game looks like it would look somewhat in place back in 2003, except there has been a blurry filter applied to give some resemblance of depth, except it doesn't work very well and obscures things too much giving the implied effect that Duke needs to see an optometrist.
Fair warning, the PC edition does not boast half as much colour.
In its entirety, Duke Nukem Forever is a game that reeks of terrible game design and direction, it feels like a game that was organised by a group of humourless suits who needed to meet several quotas in the game, x amount of jokes, y amount of boobs, z amount of levels and the whole thing comes off as a bastard child of mediocrity and sociopathic tendencies. At no point in the game do I feel like a bad ass, at no point do I feel like I know exactly what I need to do. All that happened was I ran through the motions that the game needed to do in order to complete it which is a crying shame as there are so many little moments in the game where you know one guy spent many late nights trying to get it just right so in the end it would enhance the big picture of the game.
On paper, there are so many elements that should have worked well, there are implications that this could have been a solid game however the execution is so poor that any semblance to good design is washed away by overall mediocrity and lack of direction. Which is unsurprising considering the developmental nature of this game, having witnessed projects in the industry that I am involved with, which have reached beyond that point of safe return and the only viable thing to do is to get rid of it 'as is', it strikes me that this game was released purely so they didn't have to look at the code any more.
Which is a shame as I was really looking forward to enjoying this game and I tried my hardest to get as much enjoyment as I could, but the sad reality is that it just isn't very good at almost everything it does. However, I really do want to play another Duke Nukem game, should Gearbox make the announcement that they are starting fresh with another Duke Nukem game I would be ecstatic to play it, because then I know the game will get the treatment it solely deserves for Duke Nukem should star in another great game.
If they can make Duke likeable again, make him an ass kicking badass without the sociopathic tendencies and self gratifying ego, write him some one liners that aren't always ripped from movies, make him an icon that he should be, rather than ramming it down our throats that 'Duke is the greatest no matter what', actually prove to me that he is great, and wrap that up with some fast paced first person shooting, with the mighty ****ing boot and you have yourself a game that I want to play.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to play Duke Nukem Forever, I'm glad it didn't disappear completely off the face of the earth and I'm grateful that the franchise landed in Gearbox's lap, they come across as really cool dudes who can make kick ass games, just start fresh guys and make me want to be the Duke in a video game again. Just don't do what happened in this game and things will be fine.