Duke Nukem Forever

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Duke Nukem Forever review
Chris Davis


Return of the King?

Somebody Get This Man Some Gum! (cntd)

The largest problem in Duke Nukem Forever isn’t the combat so much as the lack of fresh material present. There are no new weapons or enemies to be had: they are all virtually the same as they were in Duke Nukem 3D with minimal AI improvements. Boss battles in the game are throwaway levels and you can easily tell when one is coming upon inspection of your new environment. One particular boss battle against the Octoking is one of the most frustrating combat experiences I’ve had in years until you eventually nail down the strategy necessary to defeat it. Boss battles shouldn’t be painful guys: they should be challenging but not overly irritating. I do not think 3D Realms got that message however.

Duke Nukem Forever does feature a multiplayer suite but, like many aspects of the game’s design, it is an uninspiring offering at best. The usual assortment of Deathmatch options are accompanied by one other mode: Capture the Babe. Between the three modes however nothing is truly memorable. Players can build their own mansions in the My Digs section as tributes to your accomplishments in the multiplayer but you should expect to return to your favorite shooter within days instead of weeks.

Subtlety Is Not His Trademark

Twelve years, four engines, and over two hundred developers later; Duke’s newest title should logically be one of the best looking games on the market. It shouldn’t surprise you that it isn’t however. Character models look outdated and NPCs in particular are both lackluster in appearance and animation. Had Duke Nukem Forever been released in 2006 or 2007 it probably would have been one of the best looking games on the market but against today’s offerings of Crysis 2, Call of Duty, and Dead Space 2, the results are just disappointing.

One thing that the various development teams got right is the level of interactivity present in the game. Few shooters focus on more than just the combat and Duke Nukem Forever shines in this department as there is an assortment of activities to do between stints of fighting such as drawing on dry erase boards, pinball machines, pool tables, and even an air hockey game. The sad thing is that none of these activities in particular are well done and the pinball game’s physics are some of the worst I’ve seen in a long time. Still, the effort is definitely there so the game gets points for that.

Wherein the interactivity is one of the few highlights of the game the single most deplorable aspect of the game’s design is the loading times present. Designed like an old school shooter, levels are divided by loading screens and do not blend into one another well, if at all. The loading times are simply some of the most abysmal to be had this generation, taking upwards of a full minute to load completely. It seems that the game has to reload the entire level instead of just the section in which your checkpoint is at so, coupling this with a difficult section of the game, you are looking at an excessively frustrating experience at times. Installing the game to your hard drive does little to abate this problem so it is best to go into the game with as much patience as possible.

Time for the King to Step Down

Duke Nukem Forever is many things to gamers. It is a title of solace in an age of serious, hardcore shooters. It is a game in which many have devoted large portions of the lives to completing. It is proof that, even in the darkest, most heartless pit of development hill there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

What it is not, is a good game.

The game’s singleplayer experience, which should be very entertaining, turns out fruitless and many pieces of its design and the multiplayer is simply a momentary try for most with little incentive for continued play. It seems that the only truly worthwhile fruit to bear is that the rights and ownership of the brand belongs to Gearbox Software now, and if the studio can devote even a marginal amount of effort in comparison to most of their previous titles then Duke’s future may well be a bright one. For now though, you should stick to Duke Nukem 3D for all your womanizing and ass-kicking needs.


fun score


Great one liners at times, shrinking levels


Horrible loading times, little new weapons and enemies