by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
Fashionably Late (cntd)
The problem with Duke lies in the fact that he is simply a character that is stuck in 1998. Back in the mid-90s the actors he was based on like Jean Claude Van Damme and Bruce Campbell were still at the height of their popularity and as such Duke was prime satirical material that both appealed to those wishing to play as a self-imposed awesome character and for those who wanted nothing more to live the life of a B-movie character. With the decline of the actors he was based on and the rise of modern action stars like Daniel Craig and Matt Damon, Duke is a character whose only real audience are those who remember the 90s action scene fondly. The point of Duke’s character back then was to make fun of the entire action and B-movie genre, but today he’s alone with little to no modern basis for which to be as entertaining as he was in 1996. There is no depth to Duke Nukem: he’s just one big ego whose sole goals are to get laid and kill more aliens. Today’s modern gaming scene demands a character more complex than that and for Duke to receive a visual update and not a character one is a failure.
That isn’t to say that Duke Nukem cannot still be an entertaining character at times. Despite his temporal displacement Duke is still able to get in a good one-liner or two with references to Robocop, Halo, and even Inception. Players can exploit Duke’s manly personality to hilarious results and you’ll definitely be entertained when being shrunk. Aside from this however, Duke remains the stupid, macho idiot he’s always been and if you can get past the fact that he’s long since overdue for retirement then you’ll certainly have fun with him.
Somebody Get This Man Some Gum!
If there’s one thing that can be said about the transition from Duke Nukem 3D to Forever it is that the gameplay is quite different. No more keychard hunting, no more wide levels to explore, and certainly very little in the way of secrets and surprises to be had. The Forever experience is unfortunately a watered-down corridor crawler with a handful of open environments and almost no exploration to be had. If you are okay with this then I have to ask: why? With so much time in development hell one would have assumed that Duke’s level design would allow for large environments to explore but when you actually get to these levels there simply isn’t anything to be found.
The only really worthwhile levels to check out are the ones in which Duke is shrunk down to action figure size and must do his best to find an expansion pad to get back to normal size. One of these stages in particular had you doing some first person platforming around the flooded kitchen of a Duke Burger attempting to reach a circuit breaker to help a trapped employee who is in danger of being electrocuted. As you make your way across shelves, tables, and hot grills with burgers in the process of being cooked, several shrunk aliens will attack you and you must fight while taking cover behind bottles of pickles and mayonnaise. The result is a bit fun but these shrinking levels seem overdone as a whole. By the time I was shrunk for a third time I was growing heavily frustrated that the mechanic was being used again.
Combat in Duke’s latest outing, as far as the console version goes, is a tossup between decent and terrible depending on where you are in the game. For the most part the fights you experience are decently challenging on harder difficulty settings but the AI pendulum at times swings heavily in their favor. The main problem to be had is the game’s aim assist, or lack thereof. Aiming at enemies more than ten meters away is a dodgy exercise at best unless you have the game’s sniper rifle and the lack of even minimal target tracking can lead to a painful experience.
Like all other shooters these days the game utilizes a health regeneration system a la Call of Duty except this time they call it Ego (and what an appropriate term it is). This unfortunately turns the game into a cover-based shooter which is in direct confliction to the nature of Duke’s character. Players can increase the size of their Ego bar by interacting with certain objects in the environment but it still doesn’t make up for the fact that Duke Nukem is not a hide-and-shoot character.
Great one liners at times, shrinking levels
Horrible loading times, little new weapons and enemies