The very arrival of Duke Nukem Forever is – in itself – video game history. This is the game that not only invented vaporware, it took this concept to levels never before imagined.
Amazingly enough, however, this damn game just wouldn’t die. First sign of daisies poking through the grass was quickly countered by continued development gossip. Console generations came and went…as did the wait for Duke to return. While a slew of would-be-hits became victim to closed studios, Duke soldiered on. More survival instinct than Twinkies and roaches combined.
Now there are two kinds of people who will buy Duke Nukem Forever. Those who consider it an actual release, versus legions old enough to recall laughing at tits and ass, Duke jokes from early PC first person shooter (FPS) days. If you’re not in the latter category, run away from this bunny with big teeth. You’ve been very duly warned.
Some in the former declared Duke Nukem Forever one of the worst games of the modern console area. Shoddy gameplay, even shoddier graphics, and a sense of humour simply too stupid for even the simplest of gamers to offer a mere chuckle at.
Truth is, these critics – while harsh – aren’t completely off base. Duke Nukem Forever doesn’t hold a candle to any mainstream FPS offerings lining bestseller charts. It’s also bursting with moronic collision detection and pixilated corners that make even naughty polygons blush. Aiming mechanisms are shoddy, gameplay linear in the worst of ways.
Pimples noted, this reviewer – however – found Duke Nukem Forever an absolute blast: a ridiculously flawed yet picture perfect homage to all of the great successes and failures of the original that made it such a guilty pleasure. Gyrating babes, potty humour and kicking ass references are aplenty, also the inane ability to interact with nearly every environmental object for no apparent reason. The guns…oh yes, the guns. As over-the-top as remembered, and still hopelessly difficult to aim even a friggin’ pistol. Even your fists have a mind of the their own.
But wait….there’s more! Load screens are aplenty, ones that subsequently take forever to materialize. For a game ripe with decade old graphics, what the hell takes so long to get it rolling is beyond me.
The plot…non-existent. Aliens want Duke’s babes, and he’s left to save them. He’s still cool as the other side of the pillow, and enjoys the occasional alien beheading to keep things interest. Minigames are here and there, distractions to keep even the most ADD among us mildly entertained.
Flaws be damned. As a proud member of the latter category above, I couldn’t help but have an absolute great time with Duke Nukem Forever campaign mode, also its surprisingly playable multiplayer. A smaller, niche community meant significantly less pwning. Hallelujah to randomness.
Single player is unapologetically short, with the greatest draw being the ability to have Duke pee in the strangest of places and/or experiment with the wackiest of guns. I’m unabashedly shallow, and found Duke’s lowbrow one-liners laugh out loud funny. I literally kept playing to hear the next one. The game goes to extraordinary depths to find humour behind every visual cue.
In sum and if you’re keeping score, the greatest allure of Duke Nukem Forever is arguably that it simply happened. It’s a flawed game on the surface and within, and doesn’t aspire toward grandeur of any kind. Still - and if you’re a fan of the original series for all the wrong reasons (staring at the mirror deviously) - there’s a guilty pleasure waiting to happen. With the game creeping toward discount status, even more reason to go kick some ass.
Three stars if you’re morally depraved like myself. Two for those born after 1990.