Duke Nukem returned this year with a new and highly anticipated game. I enjoyed the original Duke Nukem games and after seeing the trailer for Duke Nukem Forever, I really wanted to play it. To be able to return to the wisecracking, action packed games that Duke Nukem was known for would be a real gift. Needless to say, I am a Duke Nukem fan.
However, I know I'm not going to be making any fans for the stuff I'm going to say about Duke Nukem Forever. At least the hardcore fans of Duke Nukem won't be fans of mine. The harsh truth in terms of Duke Nukem Forever is that it is very disappointing. This is a game that fans of Duke Nukem and even non-fans were looking forward to. This is a game that was in "development hell" for practically twelve years. This is a game that was probably on anyone's top lists of anticipated games of 2011. Did it deliver? Not really. Then again, why just say that when I have examples for you? Let's look at Duke Nukem Forever.
To start, let's look at Duke, himself. It's Duke Freaking Nukem! What else can I say? One of the classic action stars of the 1990s is back with his classic look, macho-man persona, and wisecracking jokes. Unfortunately, that's all we get in terms of anything reminiscent of Duke Nukem. Sure, in the game, Duke is an international celebrity for his heroics. He owns a casino hotel and has a direct line to the United States President and the Earth Defense Force. That was pretty cool, but this is one of the stages of where the coolness ends...for the storyline anyway.
Next up is gameplay and it is pretty sad. One of the biggest negatives in this game is that, as Duke Nukem, you only get to carry two weapons. I'm going to write that again, as Duke Nukem, one of the classic action heroes who's known for action, can only carry two weapons. My only question to that is, why? Why limit Duke like that? Before, you could have more to carry. I'm playing as Duke Nukem. I want to be able to carry at least ten weapons. One of which is a rocket launcher and when he pulls it out, no one questions where it came from.
Practically the only way you can defeat bosses and big enemies in the game is with an explosive weapon. Bosses eat up ammunition and their attacks cause extremely heavy damage to Duke. I found myself getting hit once and half of my health bar is gone. So pretty much, you have to carry an explosive weapon with you all the time. That leaves you with only one item slot left and most gamers will say that the shotgun is what fills that spot. Sure you get a turret combat section every blue moon and it's great, but then you have to go back to the two weapons.
On top of that, the game consists of numerous puzzles that you have to do for the story. Now don't get me wrong, I like having puzzles in games. I just praised Portal 2 as a great game and gave it a solid 10. It's just that, again, this is Duke Nukem. You can have puzzles in a Duke Nukem game, but not so many that that is what keeps the player busy. To me, it just seems like half of the puzzles were filler. Even then, some of the puzzles were a chore to complete. The only time you saw action was when you solved the puzzle or when you find the item you're looking for. Enemies would spawn in your location and they would be the same ones over and over. One of the most frustrating puzzles was when you had to climb a mobile statue of Duke Nukem to make your way to the second floor of a building to meet up with some Earth Defense Force soldiers.
The number of enemies become too common with a only a few of them being seen mostly across the game. The most common include Assault Commanders, Octabrains, and Assault Enforcers. Enemies can be either easy to take care of or be incredibly difficult to eliminate. You can even so much as punch some of the them to death or (again) you would need a heavier weapon or explosive. The only unique enemies in the game are the bosses.
To combat these aliens, we have a lot of weapons to use. You have classic weapons like the pistol, shotgun, and rocket launcher. You also have unique weapons like the Shrink Ray and Freeze Ray. However, since you are limited to only two weapons, you can't really enjoy these fun weapons. I know I'm harping on the two weapon limit, but if the developers wanted to have Duke only carry a certain amount, they could have at least put a five weapon limit.
Another gameplay element consists of drinking beer to make you tougher. Strangely enough, though, when Duke drinks beer he gets drunk and the screen becomes hazy. It's not even like he drank a dozen beers. That affect just comes from drinking one. Speaking of becoming tougher, throughout the game, you can raise Duke's health or "Ego" meter by interacting with the environment. This is especially helpful considering that you may run into trouble with tougher enemies. The other side to the "Ego" meter is that it regenerates after awhile when Duke gets hurt from battle. I did a lot of hiding from enemies and bosses to recover, especially with bosses as I would get some hits in on the boss, get hit myself with their heavy attack, and hide again. The game also has steroids that increases Duke's "Ego" meter and makes his melee attacks stronger. Probably one the most disappointing things in the single player campaign is that you can't use the Jetpack. It's only available in multiplayer.
Graphics do look good, but some of the character designs are pretty outdated. Nevertheless, the graphics are not that bad. During the more intense action sequences, you do feel the adrenaline pump when things start to explode or enemies are chasing you down. The graphics help sell those portions of the game. For the PC version graphics, they are pretty much what I expected: not too realistic, yet decent. Also since I played the PC version, which I heard from many people is the superior version, load times are shorter. PS3 and Xbox 360 versions face long loading times.
Online gameplay is not that great. You do get a variety of games to play and there was customization for your Duke Nukem. However, loading times are pretty bad as they are time consuming (even on the PC version) and textures are blotched out and hazy after you respawn.
Overall, Duke Nukem Forever is very lackluster. While the concept for the story is intriguing in showing where Duke is now in the world, the delivery is poor. The only thing that the game really has going for it is the nostalgia. I laughed at the jokes, I liked being able to interact with the environment, and it is good to see Duke Nukem again. I just wish that the game didn't seem so "copy and paste" in most areas. Also, despite them taking parody jabs at Valve, Halo, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Duke Nukem just didn't live up to the hype. Sorry guys, but my recommendation is to steer clear and hope that Duke can get the game that he deserves. If you are curious, get the PC version, it is better than the console versions.