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Why I hate Duke Nukem Forever and you should too

It should have just been Duke Nukem ForNever!
It�s good to have that out of my system. Bad jokes aside, as much as I appreciate Gearbox taking Duke, making it playable, and actually pushing it out the door, I can�t help but think that they shouldn�t have bothered. Yes, they shipped this, unfortunate, piece of gaming history, but it should have just remained the definition of vaporware.

If you like Duke Nukem Forever you�re either a mentally disturbed masochist or you�re suffering from post-purchase rationalization. I understand that 59.99 before tax is a big purchase for some, but it isn�t enough to justify liking this steaming pile of shit, which is something you can pick up and toss around in game because that�s something you wanted to do.

I hate Duke Nukem Forever and I think you should too. I hate what it stands for. I hate it�s offensive and unintelligible attempts at humor. I hate that it thinks it�s awesome and that we should too. I hate the fact that as much as I try playing through it isn�t fun, but a chore. Even with those complaints, I could be content with the fact that it simply exists and not care that it�s such a steaming pile of shit.

Duke Nukem Forever�s greatest offense still lay elsewhere. Above all else, I hate the fact that a game that has been supposedly in development for 14 years, that has refused to leave the public eye, that was responsible for the term vaporware, feel rushed out the door and incomplete.

What. The. Fuck.

Duke is a sociopath, but it�s ok you should love him like everyone else.

That quote would normally have a exclamation point if Duke Nukem�s voice actor, John Saint John, actually put some inflection into any of the dialog. Punctuation aside, yes Duke makes abortion jokes. Out of context it�s disturbing. In context Duke is killing the alien spawn that bursts out of the topless women that are writhing in pain and pleasure against alien dick posts as they are raped and used as surrogate meat sacks.

This happens after you find the Wholesome twins (instead of Olsen, since that�s a relevant joke) who say that the promise to lose the pregnancy weight and then explode into baby aliens. You can kill the other women before they explode and Duke quips: �they�re not human any more.�

This section in the Alien Hive is genuinely disturbing. Kidnapped women are being raped and impregnated with creatures that kill the host when they�re born. Normal characters would react in horror and Duke�s line would actually be delivered with some emotional resonance. Not here though, if you fail to kill the women Duke makes abortion jokes while you kill the aliens.

I�m not saying I�ve never laughed at an abortion joke, I have. Dead baby jokes too. I can�t help it, they�re funny. It�s not that I find abortion and dead babies funny, those jokes are funny because the punchline is out of left field and disturbing. That�s not what�s happening here. Duke is genuinely making an abortion joke and I�m expected to laugh at it.

This isn�t the only evidence of Duke�s sociopath nature, but it is the most glaring. This is the guy that everyone in the game world loves and admires, the roided up douche making abortion jokes. I don�t want to play this guy, I don�t even want to consider that this guy exists let alone play a game in which everyone is in love with him.

Oh yeah, and in this area there are weird alien boobs growing out of some of the walls that you can grope, not sure why.

References aren�t jokes, nor are stolen lines.
When you�re inspired by something or when you really enjoy something you usually want to pay tribute to it. Maybe you craft your own work and pepper references to what you love throughout as a tribute. What you don�t do is insert your reference as a punchline without the the set up to the joke.

Yes, I saw the G.I. Joe PSA video on youtube several years ago that gave birth to the porkchop sandwiches meme. I also forgot about it until I played Duke Nukem. It was moderately funny then, by now the joke has already run it�s course. Out of all the jokes you can make referencing pigs, why reference a 5 year old meme?

One of Duke�s most memorable lines from 3D, aside from �I�m going to rip off your head and shit down your neck,� was �Hail to the King baby,� which was stolen from Army of Darkness. Don�t expect the theft to simply end there, Forever is filled to the brim with so many stolen lines I�m surprised the Writer�s Guild doesn�t go on strike again. Maybe if it was done with a modicum of respect it wouldn�t come off as such a cop-out to actually writing jokes.

Duke also sees it fit to sing �America, fuck yeah,� just because someone mentioned America. Hearing Duke sing is a very odd experience, one that I wish I could unhear. Duke�s flat performance reminds me so much of Eeyore it�s scary. So yeah, not only do I get to hear Eeyore degrading women and quoting every movie and internet video I�ve seen, but I get to hear him sing too. Lovely.

Not everything here is a never ending pit of shit, surprisingly there are a few good things too. I can only think of two references that were respectful and entertaining, but only one of them actually made me laugh. At one point (during the only fun part of the game, but more on that later) you come up to a boarded up mine shaft and Duke comments: �A crowbar would come in hand right about now.� It�s a good Half-Life reference during the only non-shit part of the game. The Donkey Kong reference that happens during and after an infuriating section where you must ascend a staircase while explosive barrels bombard was marred only by the fact that I wanted to drop-kick my Xbox out the window instead of chuckle at the joke.

My game sucks but I�m going to make fun of yours.
After the arduous opening section, you meet up with yet another group of random soldiers who give you more weapons and offer you your �Green Power Armor� that belongs to a faceless major franchise star, to which Duke replies: �Power armor is for pussies.�

Oh Duke, I see what you did there. A Halo joke, how funny! How dare you have the audacity to poke fun at a franchise that not only has released and sold millions of units in the time that it took your steaming pile of shit that you call a sequel to come out, but that you stole several of your ideas from.

That is not the only instance of idea theft nor is it the only time that Duke sees it fit to make fun of the ideas that the game has stolen. Peppered throughout the game are various physics puzzles, a few of which have you moving barrels in and out of minecarts to progress through the mines in which they inhabit. Another puzzle has you opening and closing valves to channel steam into the appropriate place. Duke quips: �I hate valve puzzles.�

Zing! Not only did you manage to make a pun, but you put down Valve and their download service Steam too! They suck, right? I mean, of course they do, that�s why you stole the physics puzzles that Valve mainstreamed with Half-Life 2 and managed to make them worse. Just because you can do it well doesn�t mean it sucks Duke.

I have no problem with games, movies, or anything making fun of other properties. What I do have a problem with is making bad jokes about good games when you can�t even competently pull off what you�re making fun of. The physics puzzles and platforming in Duke Nukem Forever aren�t fun and pad out the game. The new recharging health system and the ability to only hold two weapons and two �grenade� types (pipe and trip bombs) are ripped straight from Halo and implemented poorly. These features are not fun and make Duke feel so much different than what we fell in love with all those years ago. Then it has the gall to jab at those franchises. No Duke, you�re bullshit isn�t funny and it only makes me want to play those superior games.

Turds and microwaves don�t mix
Yes, that�s a reference.

No that�s not something that you can actually do in the game, but it would be entertaining if you could. Unfortunately for a series known for it�s extensive interactivity, Forever has you flicking light switches or playing awful minigames. Yeah it�s cool that I can play pinball and air hockey, but the amount of concentrated shit that are these minigames really detract from the experience. Yeah I can do it, but I really don�t want to.

Duke was funny back in the days of 3D, but simply repeating the formula won�t and doesn�t work. Duke was supposed to be a parody of the 80s action hero but he isn�t. 80s action heroes were characters, Duke is a flat douchebag that steals the lines of 80s action heroes. Bringing him to the modern age without making any changes is like trying to remake footloose with the same plot-oh wait, shit. That�s happening and no one is excited so why is this exciting?

It�s not, it�s awful. Forcing Duke into the modern age has only made him more irrelevant and pointless. What has happened is 3D Realms thought that the only thing we loved about Duke was Duke himself and not the gameplay. These modern sensibilities brought to the table are brought by a fumbling idiot. Duke feels like an arrogant prick shoved into a modern soldier�s body without someone there to call him worthless and saddle him with latrine duty.

What happens when you shove a square peg in a round hole? Well you wind up with a very ugly and now pretty useless peg. Unfortunately this peg hasn�t left the spotlight for 12 years and we were promised a shiny square peg. Instead a shit peg was shoved through a hole and now we are left with an even shittier peg.

A short, brief glimpse of fun.
Duke�s committed a cardinal sin by feeling unfinished and rushed, but it wasn�t the only commandment of gaming that it saw fit to break. Fun is the essential element of any game, if it�s not fun then there is no point to play. Forever gives you just a little bit of fun in a portion of its game in a way that I don�t want to describe through normal means so I will present my case through an example.

Think of an Oreo. Oreos are mediocre cookies sandwiching delicious vanilla cream that was sent here by the sugar gods. Duke Nukem�s Oreo is one of the mediocre cookies sandwiched by steaming piles of shit. Once you make it through one pile you are gifted by the reward of some mediocre but entertaining gameplay. Your reward for that is one of the shittiest underwater levels ever devised. I�m talking picture the water temple times 100, then picture something worse than that. It�s worse than that.

Fun is dangled in front of you for a short period of time to give you just a smidgen of hope that Forever may not be the worst thing to happen to gaming since Daikatana. The man has seen it fit to take that minuscule amount of fun and so utterly destroy it that any hope of this game leaving a good taste in your mouth is as likely as meth being accepted as a diet program.

Duke Nukem Forever is such a violent shit storm of awful that I find it almost impossible to understand how people like it. I can see the post-purchase rationalization and the masochism. Making it beyond those shaky reasons I can only think that you�re a little off mentally. Congratulations though, your insanity inspired this. While you certainly won�t enjoy this, I believe you�ll get off knowing that this is dedicated to you. Now go away, I want to go play a fun game.
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About Zanthisone of us since 12:35 PM on 06.25.2011

Growing up in the middle of redneck nowhere, conveniently located 30 minutes from Disney World, I had no choice but to escape into a world of wonder known as video games. And Disney, I really like Disney too. Now in the midst of cultures who have absolutely no understanding or use of me, I frolicked off to University where I study Accounting and Journalism.