Has it really been 15 years since the iconic Duke Nukem grabbed gamers by the jugular with his over-the-top masculinity, crass joking nature and robust gunplay to offer the perfect blend of awesome? Of course the gaming industry has grown by leaps and bounds since then and the FPS genre itself has become a living breathing entity all it’s own. In fact the last time we saw the Duke, a little company known as Google wasn’t even a thought.
Well like Google, the shooter genre today is a beast of epic proportion and with it unbelievable expectations. Nevertheless, the expectations for the Dukes re-entry into our beloved past time have been increasingly high and now the Duke is finally here to bask in his glorious return, or not.
Like a pimp from the 1970’s wearing a blinding neon outfit made from the cloth of his pimpmobile who has been teleported to 2011, unfortunately this time around the Duke is suffering from a serious case of being OUTDATED which has left an embarrassing taste in our mouth.
Attributing to the debacle known as Duke Nukem Forever is a severe case of poorly implemented ideas, a lackluster story, comical artificial intelligence and an underwhelming graphical presentation.
Upon entering the campaign your immediate NUKEM senses say wow, they nailed it! Everything you remember from the Duke glory days comes rushing back. The bold blocky logo ‘DUKE NUKEM’, the pride of the American flag, and that Nuken soundtrack, you know it’s on! As expected women are throwing themselves at you (helping you more visually challenged male gamers to feel good about yourself). Early on in the game, the Duke is confronted by the games first official boss battle on an empty football field. While this brief battle does not discourage, the long we’re still waiting and we’re still waiting and now we’re still waiting loading screen does assist well in helping you to think about the shortcomings of this new Nukem experience.
The gameplay in Duke Nukem Forever suffers greatly from an identity crisis that is apparent throughout. Level designs are clumsy, almost as though 3D Realms purposely ignored the plethora of ideas at their disposal from countless games on the market or their own inner convictions. Again, this blend of gaming assets was completely acceptable 15 years ago, but so were VHS players. NPC’s are also a joke which were a continuous punch line at every corner. In the graphics department Duke Nukem Forever was not terrible however the visual fidelity feels like a universe manifested from a plastic shiny material with no life. The gunplay fared no better as the weapons used in the game brought no sign of personality to the experience. While there are several weapons at the your disposal throughout the campaign you may find yourself not caring much how you get throw each dreadful enemy encounter. The shooting is so poor it is almost offensive to ones gaming experience.
In addition to the countless mishaps, the Duke himself with his corny adolescent one-liners and dry voice acting is nothing short of pitiful. Everytime the man shoots out one of his ‘I’m deperately trying to be cool’ inuendos, please don’t feel bad if you’re compelled to cringe almost immediately. While there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sexual humor to move things along comically, this is where the Duke fails miserably. The atmosphere of toilet humor mixed with sex and male genital jokes no longer carry the same expression as they once held in the late 90’s. Today gaming is mainstream bringing gamers from all walks of life, no longer does the industry only consist of sex happy teenagers who will applaud every crass and smut joke as the underlining reason why this is a must buy game. Duke Nukem Forever is vulgar with no comic relief to found for 200 miles.
As gamers have grown up, so has their levels of taste and maturity (for the most part). In the last fifteen years gaming has become a living breathing organism fostering many identities with new genres that have undoubtedly stretched our imagination. The time of the Duke has passed and Duke Nukem Forever is the defacto example of this reality. For the man that brought endless joy to our lives when we thought his bold words of a womans under garments were prophetic truth, the Duke himself should not be defined his latest exploits. Duke Nuke Forever on the other hand should become nothing more than a cautionary tale of what not to do with a living legend. There is simply nothing more to see here, please move along.