Duke Nukem 3D was without a doubt one of the most important games of my teenage years. It was the first FPS that I really remember getting into. It was challenging, humorous and the combat was fast and enjoyable. Even nowadays despite its dated 2D sprite graphics and lack of fancy post-processing effects, its still a fucking awesome game to play. The combination of Duke 3D’s legendary gameplay coupled with modern technology is surely a win? Unfortunately Duke Nukem Forever is not that.
The game gets off to a poor start. After the intro videos there’s there’s a very familiar but pretty easy boss fight, just to get the ball rolling. By this point you are starting to get into things when it cuts away to Duke’s room where he is playing the game on what appears to be a DukeBox. What was a promising scene setter soon declines into some in game scenes, some walking around and more in game scenes. Whilst occasionally amusing (such as being able to sign a kid’s book with a picture of bewbs), its an unwanted slow start. I wanted to be shooting things and killing pig cops at point blank range, not having conversations. Even once this is all done with, the game is regularly broken up for dialogues with other characters and mini in game scenes (often with an uncomfortable delay waiting for it to trigger). Duke’s a one man army, he doesn’t need to care about other people (except hot girls of course…).
The combat is decent enough, but there’s just not enough of it. The weapons are great, nice and overkill, and fighting the aliens does bring back memories of the past but frustratingly this is regularly broken up by little puzzles. Having to locate fuel cells and place them in another object is quite trendy nowadays so obviously they’ve looked to emulate this, but I don’t feel as though this suits Duke, especially when it seems that for every firefight you have, there’s a puzzle or task to complete. I’d much rather be blowing shit up tbqh.
There is one big issue that I have with combat and that is the health system. Duke now has a regenerating health, or Ego as it is called in game. I’ve kinda missed old health systems with the tension of pushing on knowing that if someone so much as breathes heavily on you, you’re dead unless you get a health pack! Now, as with many modern shooters, simply cowering away makes it all so much better. The game therefore is MUCH easier, even dying only sends you back to a recent checkpoint. I expected there to be more restarting campaigns and a classic health system with no power up (aside from beer & steroids of course) so this was disappointing. Duke even quips “Power armour is for pussies” when offered a Halo style suit, but apparently quickly regenerating health is fine. O_o
There is a few variations in game play, going from fighting from classic FPS action to using turrets to blow up ships and a more horror/alien/sci-fi action game style play, navigating through darkened areas with the rare enemy. So far my favourite little section was being miniaturised and driving about in a toy car. However despite being amusing and enjoyable at first, it did kinda go on for too long. Thankfully eventually I was able to get out and shoot some alien scum whilst still being a little pipsqueak who sounds like they’ve overdosed on helium. Good fun!
A lot of people have been critical of the graphics but they seem decent enough to me. Perhaps I’m just a little behind on my latest games but I can’t think of many, if any, titles in my PS, 360 or PC collection that are much better. Loading times has taken a lot of criticism but again, its fine for me. Perhaps this is a format issue and the console versions aren’t quite up to it as much as my gaming PC, in which case all I can say is bwahahahahaha!
Another big criticism has been the AI. I find myself torn here because yes, they are pretty dumb but so fucking what? This isn’t a tactical shooter and its not about working with team mates. The game is about high powered weapons, crude one liners and ridiculously oversized bosses. In all honesty I like them being a little dumb as it lets me go gung-ho myself and kill ’em.
Duke Nukem Forever is not Duke Nukem 3D 2011, nor is it a great game. It has taken some of the aspects that we all loved so much of the classic title and tried to merge those with those commonly found in modern day titles. The end result is neither here nor there, but it is a decent enough shooter with some amusing moments. I believe that the length of time taken on the title, primarily due to mismanagement (AFAIK), hasn’t helped as they’ve obviously tried to keep up but instead have rather forced some of the changes and it doesn’t feel right. It’ll no doubt get slated within the reviews on the basis that it is not a classic, but in its own right it seems decent enough.
Completion: Part way through “The Hive” (not sure on overall completion)