Company: Gearbox Software/2K Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Buy on Amazon.com
Duke Nukem is a very polarizing character. You either love him or hate him. There are no in betweens. Duke Nukem stands for just about everything I can’t stand and represents the kind of people that I despise. So why do I love him so? Why do I find his beer-guzzling womanizing ways so humorous? Honestly, I really don’t know and I really don’t care. He is a character in a video game and he is one of the most tongue-in-cheek characters in all of video games. If you take him serious (you probably get a boner playing Call of Doody), then that’s your problem.
Duke Nukem Forever had been in development limbo for the past fifteen years and when the release date was finally set, and pushed back, and set again I really didn’t know what to expect from the game. What you get is a game that feels dated and somewhat clunky but that provides a lot of action sequences and quite a bit of variety in the gameplay. In one segment you may be blasting alien motherships with your turret gun while in another segment you play as a shrunken down Duke who has to ride around in a little kid’s Duke Nukem RC car. The premise is quite simple and easy to follow. Duke is now a national hero 12 years after the events of Duke Nukem 3D. He saved the world and brought peace to Earth and relished in the celebrity status that he had gained. Duke lived it up until those mother effin’ aliens game back to get revenge on the King. And they kidnap all of the babes! Time for those alien bastards to come get some!
Forever pays homage to the classic 90’s Duke games in quite a few ways. He still gets stronger with beer and steroids, still spits off his “witty” one-liners, still takes names and asks questions later and, of course, still likes to get in on with the babes. You can only carry two weapons at a time but ammo is always fairly easy to find and the controls are simple although clunky at times. One thing that I have really missed in the old-school shooters of the early 90’s were the boss battles at the end of each level. Duke Nukem Forever still follows that trend with each level culminating in a battle against a big bad baddie. Most of the boss battles are easy enough but there are a couple that will have you screaming at your console. Ahhh, just like the old days! Thankfully the game has a lot of save checkpoints so you won’t have to repeat too much over and over again.
The multi-player section of Duke Nukem Forever is minimal with a few basic modes like “Capture the Babe” a take on capture the flag and multi-player deathmatches. These modes are simple and fun but get repetitive after a few plays if, like myself, you’re not too into the PVP stuff. I had a feeling of nostalgia as if I was playing Duke Nukem in computer club back in high school though. I also enjoyed the fact that there wasn’t a single Xbox achievement for multi-player. Kudos!
I went into playing Duke Nukem Forever expecting it to disappoint. After the years of production woes and the many slated release dates and with all of the hoopla surrounding the actual release, DNF was probably going to be one giant turd. Upon further inspection I found myself feeling more comfortable with Forever than I had with a shooter in a long time. It felt familiar, it had a lot of action sequences and variety in gameplay, it reminded me of the original Duke. I think that when Gearbox took over, they built the game directly from the old code that had been passed down from company to company and although it felt very familiar, it also felt very dated. You could tell that the game wasn’t created with all of the advances in technology that we have had in the video game industry in the past ten years. The graphics were less then perfect, the sound was muffled and the frame rates were not up to par with something like Fallout or Battlefield. I had a few game freezes where I had to restart some levels as well.
Duke Nukem Forever is far from unplayable even with the issues that it has. I fully expect that when Gearbox decides to do a sequel, which they most likely will, that they will have the time and put forth the effort to build it from the ground up.
To wrap things up, I came out of the Duke Experience having a genuinely good time. As mentioned before, the game is far from perfect and could have used a few more months of spit and polish but nostalgia aside; it was the kind of shooter that I was looking for at the time. Much like Duke Nukem himself, you’ll most likely either enjoy this game or flat out hate it and I’m glad that I was able to walk the shoes of the King again and save the babes. When you start the game off with an achievement for picking up a piece of crap from the toilet, you kind of know what you’re in for. Take it how you will…
Bottom Line: A nostalgic walk down memory lane that doesn’t bring anything new or innovative to the table but stands out as a decent retro shooter.
Favorite Aspects: Driving in the Duke monster truck, Duke’s one-liners and pop culture references, the old-school feeling of blasting the Cycloids once again…in HD!