Duke Nukem Forever Review

June 13, 2011 Off By ReverEND

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DUKE!! Holy shit, man!.  It’s been a long time, a LONG, long time… I never thought I would see you again! God Damn it’s so good to see you!. So, what has been up?!. Jesus Christ!….. you look…… “good” nevermind that. So,God I have grown up soo much. Got a job, how adult right? Married… then divorced. Bought a car, crazy adult things ya know?!. how about you man, can’t wait to hear how we’ve all changed.

… oh.. yeah, boobs. No, their great and all, yeah. What’s that? Strippers? Yeah… I guess so, yeah, I guess you can “see your dick from here” whatever that means.  Yeah. Titties again….right on.  Yeah, Uh huh, dick joke.. gotcha. Huh? Oh, sorry.. thought you said something interesting but it was just something…..about breasts again. Anyways, yeah good to see you, I got shit I have to do soo….. I’ll call.  Well, I might text. Definitely email ya.. bye.

And that pretty much sums up my experience with DNF.

Look, even if this game was the pinnacle of first person shooters for which all all shooters should be measured.  It wouldn’t be, because it was in development for 13+ years.  No matter how fantastic it is… it would have never met the hype it was setting itself up for.. never. So, I am going to try and do my best to simply base the majority of this review on the grounds that it has a moderate dev cycle.  And then at the end I will have a little say on what the real problem I have with this game.


Presentation:

I played the game on a PC using 3 monitors in both landscape and portrait configuration.  First off, the game as of right now (may change with new driver updates from AMD when the game is actually released.) Does not support crossfire configuration in either monitor setup. Not a huge deal as the game was still playable with all detail turned up and FSAA on. Of which there are only 3 options. None, FSAA, FXAA. Fxaa was a bit too sluggish.  Although, using the ever handy Radeon Pro tool. I was able to force Crossfire on in both monitor setups and get a nice boost to framerate. Needed to tweak a few settings here and there to get the graphics to look right though.  Some settings caused the Post-Effects to go into overdrive and everything was overbright and washed out, or caused odd shadow flickering with other settings turned on.  Some fiddling here and there cleared those up.

The game on PC only makes use of DX9. No DX10 or 11 to be seem here.  Menus are fairly straight forward, nothing remarkable or confusing so.. nothing much to say about them at all.

Duke is his usual self.  Or, a parody of himself. *shrug* who knows at this point right? Dick joke here, titty joke there. Yawn blah. I honestly never played DN3D for the gags.  It was a fun game that innovated. So, having all these tired jokes again.. but more of them because, hey… technology means we can hold migs and megs more of vulgar content!!

The story is… umm, Aliens come down and steal our women.. so Duke has to shoot them.  That’s really the extent of it.  Its a flimsy excuse to shoot aliens in the face.  This thing ain’t gonna be winning any Oscars.  Not a problem as long as the shooting Aliens in the face part holds up right?…. RIGHT?!….

Graphics:

Along with not winning any Oscars for writing, this isn’t going to win a beauty pageant either.  I kind of understand the argument that they had to release the thing eventually and probably couldn’t shoehorn another graphics engine in without scraping a lot of stuff and causing another major delay. I get it.  And the game, on many occasions doesn’t look terrible. The rain effects are nice, textures that are suppose to shimmer and look glossy do a good job of it. The boobies look good.  It starts to get ugly when it applies a blur effect to things in the background, or whenever you zoom in.  I’m not sure of its just because I’m on eyefinity. But the blur effect is a pixelated mess. Things in the distance have the blur effect added to….. who the hell knows, because that isn’t how it works in real life. Duke has the worst case of Near Sightedness I’ve ever seen, apparently.  And zooming in.. Jesus, its just about worthless.  Everything but the enemy becomes a blurry mess.  That is if you are RIGHT ON the enemy, if you are a quarter inch to the side of him. He’s a blurry mess too.  Its something you can thankfully turn off in the graphics option menu on the PC. I’m not sure if it’s an option for 360 or PS3.

Animation is subpar. that is where the graphics have the biggest fault, aside from the blur effect.  none of the characters seem to animate very well.  Duke, walking pixelated past mirrors looks like a maniquinn stiffly being carryed from one side of the screen to the next.  Again, not ….terrible, but really could have been better.

For today’s standards, its barely an average looking game.  Some sections look better than others, aside from the blur effect its not painful to look at by any means.  Disappointing a little. But not terrible.  But none of that matters if the “Shooting aliens in The Face” part works right… right?!. RIGHT?!?..

Sound:

Sound design in the original Duke 3D, back in the day, was really something of a revolution at the time.  Not many games of its time had the main character talk as much as Duke did.  Let alone one with such an attitude.

This time around, the sound design isn’t a revolution by any standard. But it isnt terrible either. It doesn’t really suck you into the game. Actually, much of the voice acting is ho hum.  Even Duke. He sounds almost exactly the same as he did in 3D.  Some may think that’d a great thing.  I don’t, really.  Games have advanced so much. Characters age, change, etc. I would have preferred another leap in character sound design.

There are no major flaws in the sound department per say.  I mean, everything you’d expect to hear is there.  Its just that nothing really caught me and sucked me further into the game.  In fact, many of Dukes little quips or remarks pulled me out of the game a little bit. Not nearly as bad as say…..Dirt3 announcer Guy. (GOD, I HATE HIM SO MUCH!) But it was more like.. “hm, yeah…….gotcha.” But that’s ok, that’s fine………AS LONG AS THE “SHOOTING ALUENS IN THE FACE” PART IS AWESOME RIGHT! ?!…..RIGHT!?!?.. FOR THE BAND?!

Gameplay:

It doesn’t 🙁

Ok, not true.  The “shooting aliens in the face” part does hold up.  That’s still fun. Not like it was before.  But there is a glimmer of joy to be had when those parts come up. The problem is ALL the in-between that the game makes you do and the “innovations” they went with that makes the game a hypocrite and less entertaining all around. First off, along side the “S.A.I.T.F” parts that do hold up when you are allowed to play them when the game sees fit.  We have driving sections that don’t really work that well, we have puzzle sections that cause audible moans when you see them coming, there are RC car sections that induce additional moaning. And parts where you shrink and have to do platforming stuff along with some puzzle stuff….that…just… pissed me off!

All of these are mixed in to break up the good parts of the game to…. I dunno, keep it from being repetitive? Lengthen the game? Both most likely.  Which I believe they wouldn’t have needed to do if they didn’t try to follow the crowd that the game frequently mocks.  Like a big ol’ tea kettle….something something……black.

Very early on Duke is offered “power armor” that looks exactly like Master Chiefs suit of armor from the Halo series of games.. To which Duke replies “Only a pussy needs that shit”.  ORLY? this would have been cute if Duke then picked up 10 different weapons all at the same time and proceeded to shoot aliens in the face while keeping an eye on his health number, remember Health numbers?.. getting worried when you dropped below 40?.  But, like the game he openly mocks.. Duke can only carry 2 weapons at a time…. and has a regenerating health bar, again, like Halo.  Gearbox (or 3D Realm, or Whoever decided on that design flaw) had a fantastic opprotunity to bring back those game mechanics and be innovative again!  When was the last time you played a game where you could carry 10 weapons?!. Or had 62 health remaining?  Been a while hasn’t it? Also, the weapons in DN3D where great fun to play with, many where unique and diverse, but all useful. Most of those make it to this game but lose that charm they once had, mostly in the requirement to drop them when they ran out of ammo…which was very quickly. You are constantly being forced to drop a freeze gun or shrink ray to stick with a weapon that is going to have a lot of ammo drop.  The additions to Dukes arsenal are, ironically, copies from other games he mocks.  Like a railgun.  Yeah, a railgun.  They went there.

Ignoring that. The shooting sections are fun. The problem is the other parts.  Several sections have you shrink down and make you jump from platform to platform to get to a spot you can get big again.  These are pretty weak.  And a couple have you backtrack through a level you already did… only smaller.  Once you hit the desert you’ll be driving a monster truck a lot.  These are a little better.  But its really just more filler.  If they had gotten the FPS mechanic perfect they wouldn’t have needed these other parts.  Besides, the driving is so Halo.  Which did it much better.

Level design, again… its pretty average. Nothing spectacular or memorable. But functional, I haven’t played any multiplayer yet. But the campaign levels are just okay. Boss fights are numerous, and are hit or miss. Some require strategic weapon usage which is nice, others are just Dodge and shoot.  Imagine how much more diverse and engaging it all could have been with 10 weapons at your disposal.  I would stop going back to that..

Final thoughts:

Really, Duke Nukem Forevers biggest downfall, bigger than everything I’ve mentioned previously is that its not 1999. Its 2011. Nearly 14 years since it was first announced that they where making a sequel to Duke Nukem 3D.  If the game was released in this state back then (of course the graphics would be less detailed, duh) it would have innovated once again for being controversial, engrossing, multi-genre breaking, and having great presentation (The story would still be flimsy by 1999 standards though).  But its now 2011 and the industry has seen games like Halo, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and others which all took presentation and story telling to new heights, innovated in level design and enemy AI, and populated entire cities with NPC with amazing detail.  The very game DNF mocks while trying to immitate.  And this is the biggest annoyance I had with the game, period.

It’s not just 13+ years old… it is… 13years old.  Like that child starving for effection, seeing other kids excel passed it while it shouts “I can do that but better! Watch this” all while trying to be obnoxious and vulgar while half hazardly mimicking what the other kids are doing just to get your attention. It’s sad really..

See Duke, I grew up.. thats what happens after 13+ years. People grow up.  I chuckled when I first discovered the dead space marine from Doom in the first level of the original Duke Nukem 3D because I knew it was a jab at a rival that you had out paced and past in every area. Level design, graphics, gameplay, interactivity.  But when you did it to Halo and Dead Space (yeah, poked fun at Dead Space *shakes head* with the SAME line you used from the original Duke Nukem 3D ).  I was sad for you because it looked more like jealousy.  Games loving crafted by their creators, not something thrown to the wolves to get them to shut the fuck up.

This game should have gone 2 ways.  One, delay and tighten everything up and retool it.  make it a game that we where all waiting for.  Or, never release it and have the whole series go out with the legend of Duke Nukem 3D, and the myth of what Duke Nukem Forever might have been.  This is not the route that should have been taken.  Which really just feels like “Look, get it out the door god dammit.  just… just do it already!”

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Final Score: 6.2