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Duke Nukem is Dead

  • May 13, 2014
It's hard to believe that Duke Nukem was once supposed to be the Future of Action Games Forever. It's also an irony, because "forever" is also the amount of time his latest game took to develop, as great care was apparently taken to remind us of that in said game, Duke Nukem Forever. A further irony is added by the fact Duke Nukem Forever may well go down in history known as the game which killed Duke Nukem for good.

Duke Nukem was first taken to be a sign for the changing times of video games when he went big for the Playstation, but Duke Nukem the character was always nothing more than an 80's style action hero ramped up on steroids. Big guns, big muscles, and women with big breasts were the order of his day. Duke served as an antidote to the PC-riddled 90's on account of primal id, and so teenaged gamers everywhere played Duke Nukem during that weird phase in life where they think adult games mean more blood, breasts, and curse words. There was a deeper reason why late adolescents played Duke Nukem, though: The advent of 3D gaming had made the action genre stagnant. This was before the likes of Maximo and Devil May Cry were able to remember what made action games so great in the first place, and Duke Nukem was the closest real outlet to the old days of picking up the big guns and blowing everything away.

At least that was the narrative being touted. Unfortunately, Duke Nukem Forever is less the steroid junkie action hero reclaiming his throne as the guy who first tried to get action games back on track and more The Duke becoming a victim of the old action game surroundings he once inhabited and defied. Duke Nukem Forever isn't the straight up action festival I expected from a Duke Nukem game - although I admittedly didn't know what to expect since I've never played a Duke Nukem game before, I know that Duke Nukem Forever wasn't at all what he was being advertised as. Well, except for the loud, egocentric frat boy hero part, which in all fairness was exactly what I was expecting.

Duke Nukem Forever starts 12 years after the alien invasion Duke rescued the Earth from. Duke is an international superstar, and he walks out of his Duke Cave looking forward to another television interview, probably an old hat to such treatment by now. Unfortunately, those damned aliens just can't keep their asses off our planet. They're here again, trying to invade AGAIN. The television station that's supposed to be interviewing Duke cancels the interview since it's obligated to follow the old news philosophy of if it bleeds, it leads. Duke nods, understands, and returns to the Duke Cave. (That's not a joke.) At home, he takes a call from the President, and General Graves of the Earth Defense Force. They tell him they're in diplomatic negotiations with the alien leaders and so Duke should stay put. Duke, surprisingly, obliges, but he doesn't take it well. But when aliens bent on revenge charge their way into the Duke Cave, it's once again time to kick ass and chew gum, and Duke's all outta gum!

Duke Nukem Forever lost my interest and good graces rather quickly. I give it credit for the opening satire, which comes off as a nice commentary on the downsides of political correctness. That, however, is about all I can give Duke Nukem Forever. I only played the first few levels. They made some efforts in level design and tried to vary the gaming experience a little bit, and while those things are always wonderful to have in video games, they're only wonderful inasmuch as the game's very engine isn't being ruined by them.

Well, guess what! Throughout the first several levels, the old FPS engine gets decimated as arbitrary obstacles get weaved in through every kind of corner. These aren't typical gaming nuances here; they're parts of the experience that have to be played through no matter what. The very first level has Duke running around through a series of dark air ducts and electricity rooms which, most of the time, are darkened out. Another has Duke running around while shrunken down to size and therefore having to avoid the bad guys he runs into in that state. There's a boss fight where Duke has to take out a bunch of flying aliens with a turret, and can't move or dodge the attacks - he just has to blow them all away in time.

Does any of that sound like fun? Well, get this: AMMO DEPRIVATION! Yeah! A certain Duke famous for shooting holes into everything in sight and it's difficult to find the equipment necessary for him to shoot those holes. Combine that with the feature of Duke only being able to carry two guns at once, and that's an outstanding recipe for mindless action that isn't really mindless action. The nice thing about this is that at least the levels are on rails, so you have an idea of what to expect coming in your direction and how much ammo you'll have to hold onto, if you're able to hold onto any of it.

Duke's graphics are crisp and clear. Everything looks sharp and colorful, and the game doesn't even use tons of all those effects we've come to expect from first-person shooters: Gray scenery, crates, and grim-looking rubble. The sounds are great. Duke talks big, and has a convincingly gruff voice which is still almost sadistically cheerful. A lot of things get nullified by the gunshots and explosions, but from a game with this kind of attitude, you expect that.

The gameplay is smooth, and Duke can run around without delay. The only think wrong with the gameplay is when Duke runs out of ammo and has to punch his enemies - there always feels like a delay between the action and the time you pressed the button. One odd feature is that some of the power-ups have the ability to speed Duke up or slow him down, and the adjustments really give out those sensations.

Duke Nukem Forever is frequently compared to a first-generation PSX title, and that's exactly right. Strange thing is, according to a lot of Duke Nukem veterans, the series had to regress to get there, and the reminder of what the first generation of Playstation games was like isn't very pleasant.

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More Duke Nukem Forever reviews
review by . June 17, 2011
Get Some Go Again
In the 90's the FPS genre was taking over and clones of Doom were churning out endlessly and that still holds true today.  Many of those FPS games then and no are cookie cutter cutouts of one another.  Duke Nukem however back then stood out in a few ways:  Puzzle solving to reach your goals, a fun sense of humor and it's game play was good, or at least different enough that it didn't feel like the same old same old.  The titular Duke was a cigar smoking, big gun …
review by . June 23, 2011
The long-awaited swaggering machismo of Duke Nukem is finally back and the King has some alien butt kicking to do. It would be next to impossible to do a review on Duke Nukem Forever without mentioning that the game had a development cycle rumored to be near 15 years and it was released almost 12 years after it was first expected. One could probably write a book on all the reasons behind the lengthy delay of the game which stemmed from graphical engine changes, publishing changes, creative team …
Quick Tip by . February 26, 2014
Grindhouse Game #6: One of the biggest criticisms against this game for this specific platform was that the loading times were far too long. Nowadays this can be rectified though. MAKE SURE your 360 is hooked to the internet so you can download the 4MB patch. And then MAKE SURE you install the game to your hard drive. These two tweaks should help ensure that you experience loading times no longer than about 15 seconds down from 45 or even 60. Believe me, it makes the gameplay experience much, much …
review by . July 28, 2012
posted in Siliconera Bounce
Reading a lot of these negative reviews has made me pretty irritated, to say the least. The way people have been trashing this game is almost like they just played Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (considered by many to be possibly the worst videogame ever). True, there are some things missing from Duke Nukem 3D that should have been in Duke Nukem Forever, but it still has a lot of good things as well, along with maintaining an unmistakeable “Duke Nukem” feeling, so it doesn't deserve …
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2011
Duke is back to save Las Vegas, the world and of course our women from those slimy aliens again. Duke cracks one liners, blows up monsters and ogles women, but we've seen it before and a lack luster online mode doesn't help.
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Nicholas Croston ()
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About this video game


Duke Nukem Forever is a First-Person Shooter (FPS) that finally resurrects the infamous Duke Nukem franchise. Designed as a blend of the over-the-top ego, humor, risqué scenarios and un-PC attitude that players of the original 1990s PC game releases will still relish, with for technological upgrades that modern gamers demand, Duke is definitely back and better than ever. Features include: a gameworld full of interactive opportunities; over-the-top humor; outlandish settings, vehicle driving, and puzzle solving; Duke specific multiplayer modes and more.

Duke Nukem Forever game logo
Heroes Come and Go, But a King Reigns Forever

Did the Alien bastards not learn their lesson the first time? Duke has been on hiatus for some time now, kicking back and franchising himself on the fame he gained from saving Earth from the first invasion. The Aliens have returned to Earth yet again, messing up Duke's sweet routine of dirty leisure habits. The Alien invaders are stealing Earth's women, especially the hot ones! And they drank Duke's beer. This-Won't-Stand. As Duke battles his way through waves of aliens, the once beautiful gambling haven and Duke Nukem franchise chains are crumbling before his eyes. Time to bring the pain

Duke Nukem striking a pose in an Old West setting in Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem returns to kick alien butt, indulge in his infamous vices and save the world, again.
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Duke Nukem is one of the biggest and most recognizable brands in gaming history. Irreverent, UN-PC, and uber-Macho, Duke Nukem is the perfect antidote to the...

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Number of Players: Single-player, Multi-player
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 3D Realms, Triptych Games
Console: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: June 14, 2011 (NA)
First to Review

"Get Some Go Again"
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