XBox 360, PS3, PC
First Person Shooter
Considering that it’s been fifteen years since Duke Nukem 3D, it’s probably fair to say that we never really expected Duke Nukem Forever to see the light of day. With a development cycle that originally started back in 1997, Forever will go down in history for being the most cancelled, delayed and restarted video game of all time, but none of that matters one jot right now because it’s actually here! The question is though, with such a troubled development period, is there any chance at all that it was ever going to live up to expectations?
In short, the answer to that is no. A whole generation of gamers has grown up without knowing a thing about Duke beyond the occasional tidbits they’ve read about Forever, and it’s hard to see quite what they’re going to make of this game. A first person shooter just like its predecessor, Forever owes more than a little to the FPS genre circa 1998-2002 – which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
We’ll get the negative stuff out of the way first. Most notably, the game looks like crap. For all the talk about how it didn’t look that bad, it does. It looks like a dog and occasionally it runs like a dog. There are moments when you’re wearing your night vision glasses where the frame rate drops to a level befitting of your typical late 1990s PC. And that’s on the Xbox version.
Next up are the absolutely horrendous loading times. Now, these aren’t quite as bad on the PC version, but console gamers will be pulling their hair out with frustration. When you die, and you will die quite a bit, you’re facing a 45-60 second wait to get back into the action, often about ten minutes’ gameplay behind where you were killed. It’s not pleasant and it’s not fun, especially if you somehow manage to die a few times in rapid succession.
As a FPS game, Duke pales in comparison to the quality of titles we’ve grown used to the recent years. The physics are dated, the level design is dated, the enemy AI is dated. Christ if you had showed us this game 5 years ago we’d probably have complained that it didn’t feel particularly modern.
Obviously this is something that 3D Realms noticed pretty early on, because in the run up to release they told us over and over again that the focus of the game wasn’t necessarily on being a traditional first person shooter, but more about the level of interaction on offer within the game, and the humour on show.
And in their defence there certainly is plenty to do. Those of you who enjoy running around like a hyperactive ten year old will really get a kick out of this. You’ll be able to turn on and off a variety of different electronics (you’ll be rewarded with a permanent maximum energy level, known in-game as Ego, boost every time you interact with a new type of device/piece of scenery) as well as interacting with plenty of the scenery within the game. This can range to playing slot machines, to playing pool to drawing on the wall with poop. The latter will give you an idea of the maturity level of this title.
It may carry an 18 rating, but the humour on show is so unbelievably adolescent that you may actually start to feel a little embarrassed for finding it in any way amusing. Sexual innuendos are the norm, as are the cheesy B-Movie one liners Duke spews as he takes out yet another copycat enemy. Some things hit the mark, others are so far past pathetic that we’re not even sure there’s a word for them.
If you approach Duke Nukem Forever with an open mind and are willing to accept that it’s a title made for people who find the idea of breasts in a video game hilarious, then you’ll definitely get at least a little entertainment from it. If you’re in any way a purist, or can’t do juvenile humour then you’re really going to have an awful time with it.
As a first person shooter, Forever is utter garbage. As a moderately entertaining way to hark back to the good old days while blowing things up and chuckling at the terribly bad writing, it hits the mark occasionally. We really don’t know what else to say about it other than it’s not very good, but it does manage to entertain occasionally. It’s definitely going to be remembered more for its constant delays than it is for its qualities as a game, that’s for sure.