I wrote this blog post a year ago and never got to publish it. Here we go. Warp in time, Duke Nukem Forever just got released! (
The jokes are over, friends. The thing is real, Duke is back into action! The day that never comes is here... and it leaves us with a bad rust taste in the mouth, and trust me, Duke has nothing to do with it. I've picked up the game a couple of days after the launch date with the thought of the atrocious GnR album Chinese Democracy in mind hoping that DNF was not another failed twelve year experiment. I've played the game on PC, which seems to be by far the best version of the game available right now. The x360 version is clunky, loading are slow and most of the game pretty much seems like a mess that shouldn't be on the market right now. So here is the perfectly normal review of Duke Nukem Forever written by a perfectly normal gamer.
A shining beacon of light...
Duke's back! How can it not feel good? Man I had a blast playing the game, even tho the story is kinda poor and full of cliches, I really truly had a good time playing the game. The one-liners are always welcomed and takes us back at the old Duke Nukem 3D I played when I was too young to even understand English (thank god, would have ruined my childhood with that.) Duke also devilishly love to take a jab at pop cultures, other games and whoever the hell he wants; Valve Software, Halo, Jay Leno and Leeroy Jenkings to name a few.
The game is fairly long in today's standards of first person shooters, which is a good twelves hours in the hardest difficulty, but you could subtract about an hour to that count just because there are no saves features excluding automatic checkpoints, and most of them are too far apart so I ended up doing the same part at least three time because I was good enough to die twice just before the next checkpoint. It is sad and depressing when you die in puzzles and must fight your way back again to that puzzle, just to die again... you know the feeling.
You can't kill NPC, even Mr. President. I thought that a shotgun blast to the face shuts people up, I was wrong.
I may go on a dangerous road here saying that a good part of those twelves development years must have been used to create mini-games and ego boosters(regenerative health). I've played 8 ball billiard, air hockey, whack an alien, looked myself in the mirror, threw basketballs, punched sandbags, bench lifted what looked like 800 pounds of steel and destroyed walls with a massive ball of steel (seriously).
If you guys have noticed, I only have stated the good in the game so far, and I hear your endless screams "b-b-b-but the game can't be that good!". Well sit down and relax, things are about to go sour.
... in a depressing sea of darkness.
Sadly the game has major negative points that you can't miss. The one-liners, even while being fun and welcomed, becomes dull and boring after just an hour of play, and reminded me of Rogue Agent in a less annoying way. Before diving in the more technical chatter, I got to get something out of my chest. Duke is not the same. He's no badass anymore, hes a handsome 'roid dude with twins sitting in his mansion playing his game... frankly I could mistake him for a rich rapist or something.
I can't shake the feeling that even tho the game has been in development for the past twelve years it feels like it's been rushed into stores. Most levels doesn't link well with each other, environments are more like the good old fashioned stitched boxes, and in a world where games are in landmarks and recognizable cities are a must, it kinda struck a cord.
Prepare yourself for a lot of button smashing event in the game, there are really too many of those, and they are not fun, and pretty much unneeded.
The hardest difficulty could have received a bit of tweak before launch, because most of the time the game is easy if you can handle your own in a shooter, but becomes incredibly hard and frustrating at some precise places, but not in a "I just need to be better" kind of way, more like "oh there is a red exploding barrel there, then I should not go there anymore" way. It's also frustrating that the game doesn't reward the player enough after these frustrating difficult part except for a couple of one-liners. To add insult to injury, the awful decision that Duke can only carry two weapon at the time forces the player to choose their weaponry without knowing what you will face a bit later. That means that most of the time you are not well equiped to face what's ahead, so I ended up always choosing the shotgun/reaper combo or the shotgun/handgun combo, and I have to admit, killing tons of octabrains with that combo is harder than it looks. I would have liked that the easier parts be a bit more challenging, and the harder part be a bit more forgiving, or at least give us the right weapon to face what's comming at you.
A big part of why the game is so easy reside in the fact that the A.I is completely dumb and stupid. Over-thinking the A.I is no master trick, you gotta hide somewhere, and let them come at you one at the time, only to be slaughtered to oblivion by the trusty pump shotgun. Speaking of which could be the only weapon I needed to beat the game, excluding boss fights.
Duke took a jab at Master Chief on a chapter in the game stating that "powered armor are for pussies" which I consider ironic because the game implemented two of the staples feature Halo implemented in the first person shooter scene: regenerative health and two weapon limit. Regenerative health is kinda okay, I've became used to cover mechanism and regen health, but could you at least give us a valid cover system for us to hide while we wait for the ego to refill itself? Oh and that two weapon limit is completely not duke at all. Being Duke Nukem is having nine weapons, 4 pipebombs, many mines and a fistful of items to kick every alien asses there are at that point and time. I find that the two weapon limit kind of destroy the over the top ass kicking machine that once was Duke Nukem.
And just a little thingy I wouldn't even have notice if I didn't wanted screenshots in this review... What the hell is wrong with the 7mb .bmp screenshots??? Jesus Christ guys, it was fine in 2000, not in freaking 2011. The same screenshot in .jpg could have taken one twentieth of that hard drive space!!!
So... A shining beacon of light in a depressing sea of darkness??
Quite frankly I didn't expected more for this game, which has seen countless engine change, and complete redesigns throughout the years. The game is mindless fun, full of references to many other things, and you can't get me wrong, it feels good to have Duke back. It's sad that the twelves years it took left a trail in the game and unbalanced wierd design choices kinda spoils the moment. Duke Nukem Forever is not a bad game, it's not a good one either. It's an absolute buy for the Duke fans, and a rent for all the other that want a fun game and cheap laughs.
Oh and the ending is the worse piece of shit ever written in the history of video gaming. Let's hope the next Duke games is not scheduled for 2024.