If you ever thought hell would freeze over before the notorious unreleased game Duke Nukem Forever saw the light of day, then you better grab a coat if you’re one of the damned.
After 12 years (that’s right, 12 years!), the fourth edition in the Duke Nukem series has come out after its last game, the triumphant Duke Nukem 3D, rocked the world way back in 1996. It certainly has been a long time between drinks and splattering aliens’ brains for Duke. But now he’s back to kick alien arse all over again.
The “plot” is as simple as the “plots” of the B-grade action films this game’s taking the piss out of. Years after Duke defeated the aliens that invaded Earth, Duke is now an American icon with his own Las Vegas casino, burger chain, and an endless line of women lusting over this beau-hunk. But the aliens have held a grudge against Duke and have come back to enact sweet revenge on the human race by slaughtering them, and worst of all, abducting all the babes! This really ticks Duke off, who is forced back into action to save the world once again.
Duke Nukem Forever has a lot to live up to, and for the most part, it is a very entertaining game to play. It is good to see a new Duke game on shelves after so long, and even better that the voice actor Jon St. Jon who voiced Duke’s unmistakable voice for Duke Nukem 3D is the one uttering all of Duke’s cringe-worthy one-liners again.
In fact, the tongue-in-cheek humour is the highlight of the game. The first level is a recreation of the last level from Duke Nukem 3D where Duke fights the final boss at the football stadium and kicks its head between the goal posts, but then the camera zooms out and it is revealed that Duke is playing a game (also called Duke Nukem Forever) and then asked if he thought it was good, he says, “Yeah, well, after 12 fucking years, it ought to be!” This person who asked this question was one of the “Holsom” twins (not very subtle, is it?) who, with her sister, just gave Duke, um, an “oral examination”. This early scene alone makes this game instantly likable by making fun of its own time in development hell and the blatant sex jokes to come (no pun intended). There is even a level at a strip club where your sole objective is just to find popcorn, a vibrator and a condom in order to fool around with a stripper. Seriously.
Having said that, the game relies too much on humour. While the game is funny throughout, it goes overboard with the sex jokes and gets kind of annoying. It detracts from the “bad ass” quality the game is trying to achieve, making Duke more of a douche than a hero. Chicks probably won’t care much for this game, though to be fair, it was never aimed at those of the female variety.
There are also a part of the game where Duke gets shrunk and has to ride around in a remote control car, which is just goofy and is not bad ass in the slightest. Again, humour takes precedence over action.
There is plenty of violence as you would expect, so you’re just kicking alien arse from start to finish. While this sounds fun (and it is for the most part), it does get repetitive after a while and you just want to get the game over with. If the levels had objectives other than to rip your enemies intestines out, then it would have held players interest for much longer.
Now the technical stuff. Many gamers have complained that the graphics are out of date and look like a game that made five or more years ago. It looks blurry compared to more recent action games like Call of Duty: Black Ops, making the game’s long development process painfully obvious. The controls do no allow Duke to look around too well, though otherwise the gameplay is quite easy. The enemies look great, though some of them are like something out of a weirdo’s wet dream, such as the alien nest with green boobs hanging off them.
My main complaint about this game is the loading, the bloody loading! It takes way too long, to the point of frustration. So every time you die, you have to wait ages to play again. You will die a lot in this game, so I hope you’re patient. Also, the bosses are way too hard. I know that point seems silly, but on top of having to fight a boss again and again and again, you have to go through the bloody loading screen so many times.
But the question remains: was the 12 year wait for Duke Nukem Forever worth it? Well, no. It’s pretty ridiculous that it took a game that long to get made, which would definitely affect sales. Had it been released circa 2000, this game would have been a hit on par with Duke Nukem 3D. Gaming has come a long way since this franchise’s ’90s heyday, and even simply with so much time having past, people have moved on from Duke. Many gamers have already chastised this game to death, though Duke fans will like it simply for the trip down memory lane.
Originally published at primomag.com.au on Wednesday 2 November 2011