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DUKE NUKEM FOREVER

PC Windows Version

Review by Alyxx

 

500x_dukes_back.jpg

Duke is back after over 12 years in development. Is it worth the wait, or should this game never been released? Judge for yourself.

 

I grew up with Duke Nukem. In fact, the first Duke Nukem from 1991 is probably my earliest gaming memory. Already then it was clear that while Duke Nukem had no qualms about ripping off his contemporaries, in that case Turrican and Megaman, he did so with his own sense of style and personality. Duke Nukem was a blast to play, with spot-on controls, and graphics that blew my child mind and everything seemed possible. Though the game had no music and only PC speaker sound effects, those sound effects still evoke a sense of nostalgia in me if I boot up the game in DOSBox on my high end modern Windows 7 PC. I think I already then had the feeling Duke Nukem was here to stay.

 

Then in 1996, Duke Nukem 3D happened...

Playing Duke Nukem 3D was like having sex for the first time. It made you feel adult and dirty, even more so than Doom did. Because while Doom was a great shooter and a landmark title, Duke Nukem 3D had something Doom never had: Personality. And tons of it. Duke became an icon for PC gaming that still to this day remains unsurpassed. Sure we have Gordon Freeman and Master Chief, but those pale in comparison. Duke isn't just all action, he also talks. He quips one-liners like Bruce Campbell on steroids, which is probably a good description of the character himself, and a reason he stood out so much, and still does. In an age where shooters are dominated by silent protagonists, Duke comes forth with an attitude that makes him unique and so much fun to play. That's one of the reasons I was so hyped about Duke Nukem Forever. I knew it would be a special game that would make every other FPS seem passé and boring.

 

But the years went by, and while we were assured Duke Nukem Forever was in production, we saw nothing of it. Instead we had to settle with a Tomb Raider ripoff on PS1 and a back-to-the-sidescrolling-roots 3d platformer on PC in 2001 called Manhattan Project.

 

It's not hard to understand why people lost faith in Duke Nukem Forever after such a long development time. But I knew it was going to come out one day. I believed that one day, Duke Nukem would return and blow everyone away again. And I was about half right. In March 2011 I pre-ordered Duke Nukem Forever Balls of Steel edition at my local GameStop and I went home with a huge grin on my face. It was finally happening. I was finally going to be reunited with my childhood hero and icon. And on June 10th I picked it up, on a particurarily hot day. Going home in such heat was a hell and I had to sit down a few times during the walk. When I came home, I quickly showered myself with cold water and got ready to install the game. But while I was playing the game, I noticed reviews were popping up. People were SLAUGHTERING the game. What had happened? Why all of sudden did everyone hate Duke Nukem Forever? Was it the insanely high expectations or just because of how the game ended up?

 

Regardless, Duke Nukem Forever from the very beginning was special for me. Again I felt that thrill of excitement I had felt in my childhood when Duke quipped his one-liners and kicked the Cycloid Empereror's eye, render in real time nonetheless. My icon, my hero, the very personification of everything I loved about games, was back, and I was playing a game that no one thought would ever come out.

 

Sure, the graphics weren't as nice as other games, but I've never been too focused on graphics when I play games as long as I enjoy them. Sometimes I would experience textures taking a bit of time to load while playing, but I had experienced the same thing in Fallout 3 which was still a great game as well and it never bothered me. The level designs show great diversity and variation and especially the Alien Hive level give off an atmosphere not unlike a Lovecraftian nightmare or something out of Giger's alien artwork. The audio is also pretty good, featuring advanced effects which adds great realism to the game and makes you feel immersed. The music isn't as memorable sadly, but does the trick to create tension. Hearing Jon St Jon reprise his role as Duke Nukem is just awesome as always. The other voice actors are sadly not as memorable, but they do their respective roles pretty decently. I've heard worse voice acting in Deus Ex.

 

Sure, the gameplay borrowed heavily from Halo with the regenerating health and 2-weapons-only system, but it wasn't like Duke Nukem 1 or Duke Nukem 3D didn't borrow heavily from their contemporaries either. Duke Forever simply feels like a game that is very up-to-date because of this, in my opinion, and I got used to it fairly quickly and adapted to it. Weapons are always readily available anyway, so I never felt it was worthy of criticism. I was a bit afraid that the regenerating health would make the game too easy or make you duck and cover all the time, though my fears were unjustified as that's not the case. And Forever is actually one of the most difficult games I've played, even on Normal difficulty, but that made every time I overcame a boss or reached a new goal even more satisfying. Fighting for the goals really makes the game feel more satisfying in the end. Also, another criticism I hear a lot is the lack of quicksaves, though checkpoints are placed strategically and gave me the opportunity to give my best every time instead of ending up quicksaving in the middle of a boss fight where I'd just lose anyway. Certain levels contained puzzles, driving sections and some free roaming even, which gave welcome pauses to the action and added variation to the game. This is one of the most fun games I've played, to say the least, due to the shere amount of stuff you can do.

 

The multiplayer also got a lot of criticism, though at least on PC you can play through Steam which gives some decent connection. I never experienced many problems. I think most of the criticism is directed at the abysmal console ports of the game, where a different type of connection was used. The Duke trophy room adds a bit of added incentive to go into Dukematches online and collect stuff.

 

All in all, Duke Nukem Forever was what I had been waiting for and exactly what I expected. Why it gets so much criticism is beyond me as despite the slightly aged graphics plus some bugs and glitches, it's still a blast to play. It has tons of variety, great humor, excellent badguys, excellent babes, and all in all lots of what you'd expect in a Duke game. I recommend this to everyone who like me grew up with Duke and wants to see him back in his best game yet. Duke Nukem Forever just proves you can always bet on Duke...

 

Hail to the king that is forever.

 

Summary and score:

Graphics: 8/10

Nothing really breathtaking, though what can you expect from a game that's been in development for so long really. At times the graphics look slightly blurry, but the animations on the babes and the monster designs are superb. Seeing pigcops and octobrains in action again is really great and the atmosphere conveyed in some levels is incredible. Aside from slight glitches and pixelated shadows, at least on the PC Duke Nukem Forever is looking good.

Sound/Music: 7/10

The audio in the game is pretty good. It features realistic audio effects where the audio is mumbled if you're behind certain materials, which I thought was a nice little touch. As mentioned the voicework, aside from Jon St Jon is a bit on the cheesy side, but not nearly as bad as Deus Ex.

Gameplay: 9/10

Obviously some of the gameplay choices they made won't go right with some people, but I feel they are not worthy of criticism just because some people don't like them. I quickly adapted to the 2-weapon system and it felt very natural and realistic. The regenerating health made it easier to go through the game, removing the need to backtrack for health but none of that removed any of the difficulty of the game. I struggled a lot with some bosses and the feeling of satisfaction once a boss was beaten was immeasurrable... The game also gives you a huge reward for finishing it. I won't spoil it but there's a LOT of good stuff to unlock. Driving sections, puzzles and a level where you spend the time just looking around for stuff and interacting with the world makes the game feel varied and diverse and with a lot more to offer than the average FPS!

Multiplayer: 6/10

While nothing great, winning trophies from Dukematches gives some added incentive for multiplayer. I also like the customization options.

Presentation (packaging and setup): 10/10

Setup was painless as Duke Nukem Forever is 100% compatible with Steam. I never experienced any trouble installing the game or running it. The menus are great to use and give room for lots of tweaking. The packaging itself was great with the Balls of Steel edition which contained tons of extras.

 

I am not sure who I'd recommend this to, but definitely if you're an oldschool fan of Duke like I am and if you like games that dare to be different and original. Duke is nothing like any other shooter today, and if you can look past the graphics and the lack of story, you'll have more fun than ever. That's what I did at least.

 

Sure the game shamelessly rips off other shooters, especially Half-Life and Halo, but who cares? So did the other Duke Nukem games. The game has tons of personality and that's what I care about.

 

The only way I can describe the experience is like a mix between nostalgia and just having a good time.

Game developments at http://nukedprotons.blogspot.com

Check out my music at http://technomancer.bandcamp.com

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If I hadn't already torrented it, this definitely would've made me immediately.

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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Addendum: Some have actually complained about the game being misogynistic towards women. To me, that's just a part of Duke's universe, and I don't hear anyone complaining about that being an issue in Duke Nukem 3D where women got raped by aliens as well. Duke Nukem Forever is just more graphic about it.

Game developments at http://nukedprotons.blogspot.com

Check out my music at http://technomancer.bandcamp.com

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Well, isn't that 90% of the game's selling point? Women and men included in that...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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I guess they just never really had a method to mass spam bad reviews back in the D3D era... It's all about the noisy few...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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Great, I'm going to try DNF out soon. I loved Duke 3D, almost as much as Doom.

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I laugh whenever I see this:

2i71p5e.png

because I think of what sort of ridiculous process it took for them to pass this for an M rating.

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It was probably the ultimate weapon.... 100$ Bribe To ESRB... if not that, then it was probably part of the game humor.

 

Played the game for about 1 and a half hours and so far having a good time, nothing too special yet, but at least it's funny. Of course with no secrets (Or am I missing them), and gameplay that looks almost nothing like duke 3d I was dissapointed at first but then just stopped trying to get the same kind of arcade fun from the other dukes and started playing the way the game wants me to play, I did get some nostalgic moments purely in the humour and a few of the textures, then I also found the puzzles so far very unique but fairly easy, it should nonetheless interest some people. Some engine capabilities and gameplay is very unique.

I think so far this game is almost a mix of that great dos game-style Leisure Suit Larry or Duke 3D humour with a fairly moderate modern engine just like in the typical game today.

I would say, that is a break to all those serious games coming out right now.

 

Very accurate review by Alyxx so far.

 

I'm looking forward to buy the game eventually, mostly because Gearbox deserves (not only for this duke) but also for the multiplayer.

"When a son is born, the father will go up to the newborn baby, sword in hand; throwing it down, he says, "I shall not leave you with any property: You have only what you can provide with this weapon."

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I laugh whenever I think of what sort of ridiculous process it took for them to pass this for an M rating.

 

Four words:

"Rated M for Money"

This is a nice metric server. No imperial dimensions, please.

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They actually shot specifically for an M rating and worked very closely with the ESRB to get every warning it has.

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I think your a bit confused. Duke would never just get a T for Teen rating, or god forbid below that, but the question here is how they managed to avoid getting an AO, or Adults Only, rating, which would keep the game off shelves since most retailers refuse to sell AO games.

"That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any breach of morality."

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the question here is how they managed to avoid getting an AO, or Adults Only, rating, which would keep the game off shelves since most retailers refuse to sell AO games.

The obviously know the censors that run ESRB, and the censors are fans of the game...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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Or, you know, the fact the "Strong Sexual Content" and "Nudity" rarely come up in the game and even then it's not nothing to write home about.

I love you, yet can't stand to know you exist.

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Didn't half-life officially get an 18+ Rating?

"When a son is born, the father will go up to the newborn baby, sword in hand; throwing it down, he says, "I shall not leave you with any property: You have only what you can provide with this weapon."

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Didn't half-life officially get an 18+ Rating?

Nope, just got an M...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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Weird I remember having an 18 + cover, with opposing force included...

"When a son is born, the father will go up to the newborn baby, sword in hand; throwing it down, he says, "I shall not leave you with any property: You have only what you can provide with this weapon."

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My GotY box says "M", and all the Wikis say "M"...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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We use our own, G, PG, M, R-16, R-18

And it is illegal to sell R-16's & R-18's to those under the age.

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