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Duke Nukem Forever (PC) Review

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Updated Tue, Jun 21, 2011 by Stow

It has been 12 years.  Twelve goddamn years to wait since Duke Nukem Forever was announced. In that time, most of us have been through several jobs, possibly several levels of school, and maybe even several spouses.   The latter might be true if you’re the undisputed king of badasses, but that would require Duke Nukem to actually marry someone.   Maybe that special stripper you handed all those hundred dollar bills to back in Duke Nukem 3D?  Don't worry, you'll be seeing some of those in this long-awaited sequel too.

Whatever.  The point is, we’ve been through few console generations and have gained a few gigabytes of RAM since the idea of Duke Nukem Forever was introduced.  Gearbox has taken over the long forgotten child of 3D Realms and now we’re looking at a game that actively mocks every aspect of its long development process, its competition, and everything but the Duke himself.

But have we outgrown the Duke?  Or is this legendary product something that should’ve remained a myth?

Cautions

Duke Nukem was never a guy for children. He hangs out with the wrong kinds of ladies and has a mouth that only his mother could love, until the aliens captured her along with the rest of the chicks. Now no one can appreciate his tone. Keep the kids away from this one.

Gameplay

50Poor

Duke Nukem Forever is a collective sum of a ton of seemingly fun activities—run and gun action, boots to the head, mild platforming, pinball, pumping iron, remote-controlled car puzzles, and lovely shrunken Duke action.

And it’s all terrible.

Even the intro, which has you running around a base seemingly ‘interacting’ with security and eventually riding an elevator to the Stadium stage from the classic and dueling a badass with nothing but the Devastator feels lackluster.  Duke moves anemically, and can’t reload or fire during a sprint.  The last I recall, Duke pops steroids and outruns RPG shots.  What the hell is with every first person shooter making it so you can’t sprint and fire?  This is the one shooter that could break that stupid mold aside from Serious Sam, and it failed on that point.

Duke, we know you're great.  Even the bowl cut kid knows it.  So why'd you agree to star in this?

Even as you’re unloading rounds into classic enemies ranging from machine gun packing lizards to the almighty Pig Cop, Duke’s humor has lost its touch.  Duke spouts a good line every now and then, but for the most part, Duke is just crude and not humorous in his application of four letter words.  When he’s not talking, you might find the occasional cool reference in the environment, but you know why those are cool?  They’re references to good games.  This is not one of them to be immortalized in an intro later.

Every mini-game feels forced and adds nothing to the game.  Miniduke jumping in an RC car and tearing ass around a building is fun for a minutes, but an entire 20-30 minute sequence?  Are you serious?  I can’t even kill any mutants during this event, and the Duke NEVER leaves an enemy behind.  Little turret sequences and respective bosses really don’t feel like things Duke would do.  You know what else Duke can do?

Even a classic fight like this has humanity helping Duke by airlifting in ammunition.  Screw that.  It's down to you and me, you one eyed freak.

Hold more than two damn weapons.  For a game that once stood for the definition of badass first person shooting with no holds barred, why the hell can’t Duke hold more than two guns?  He can’t hit a pool ball straight either, and the various other mini-games that raise your ‘ego’ or shield (yes, it behaves like every other goddamn shield in every other modern FPS these days) range from hidden and annoying to ‘downright rage inducing’ with achievements like the million point pinball score.

Graphics

60Below Average

The Duke looks good, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the world.  Even the chicks don’t look all that impressive, which is a travesty.  Duke does not rescue mediocre women, we should all know this by now.  He chalks them up as Pipe Bomb collateral damage.  There are some cool lighting effects here and there, but the whole game reeks of multi-stage development.  Some places like the Hive are incredibly well done and sport advanced effects, and others barely pass for Half-Life 2 at best.

“Damn, I’m looking good”  We know, Duke.  Apparently the rest of the game was dressed down to make him seem that much more badass…

Sound

77Pretty GoodThe actual sound itself is wonderfully done. The Duke sounds like the Duke, and the women sound delightfully cheesy/forced in their line delivery. The writing of the lines though is often mediocre though.

Weapons ring true, explosions are often and loud, and there’s a good sound effect for delivering justice up close and personal after popping some steroids. It sounds like a Duke Nukem game, that’s for sure. The only thing that is lacking is a killer original musical track, but you’ll get plenty of remixed classic themes as you go.

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