Duke Nukem Forever or 15 Years For That?

Good things come to those who wait. Or so they say. We have waited 15 long years. So we should have gotten the best game there is, there was and there ever will be.

In theory.

In practice, we got a game full of amazing ideas, a game you have to love for its stupidity and anachronistic humour. But we also got a game that is technically outdated. Fuck it, if it wasn’t the honourable Mr. Duke Nukem himself, the game would have ended with solid 1 point reviews! For a reason.

See, Rabidgames loved the first hours of Duke Nukem Forever. There were good ideas, there was hilarious action, lots of different sceneries and it was easy to overlook the technical shortcomings. But the first sign of old age (or rather senility?) crept in early in a department where it definitely shouldn’t happen in a shooter: The shoot-outs are crap. They are all the fucking same! You enter a room, the first wave of aliens does the same. You shoot some, get hit and run away to heal. Then it is just rinse and repeat. Wave after, room after room. Add the fact you die after 3 hits while those damn pigs can take way more head shots – and that’s EASY difficulty for you!

One more thing:  The only modernised changes are for the worse: health repletes on its own (pretty standard now, but remember shooters 10 years ago?). Well, it might be a minor change for gameplay’s sake but it definitely takes away the good ol’ “fuck, only 3 health points left” feeling. Second, quick time events. Really? They don’t add anything to the experience. The third, rather Haloesque modernisation is that you have only 2 weapons at once … why? Someone, please, give me one reason to do that! This decision remarkably cripples the fun to be had because Duke Nukem Forever tells you all the time which weapons you have to use in which level – unless you want to keep one useless gun you rarely find ammunition for. Boring.

Speaking of boring: After the first couple of levels, which are genuinely fun (albeit some are just stretched versions of doing the same for 15 minutes, remember mini Duke riding the toy car?) the later levels are outright boring: As soon as you reach Hoover Dam, Rabidgames wondered if the devs ran out of ideas. It all looks, feels and plays the same until the end. Another problem: The boss fights get worse (the first ones are good though). Later on, boss fights are simply set up: Random big guy accompanied by random grunts. Kill grunts, deplete health bar of boss. Ta-da, boss somehow has a second full health bar. I mean, if this happens once in a game, alright, but over and over and over and over again?

Rabidgames says: The acronym actually means “Did Not Finish”. This game makes your heart bleed for two reasons: First, it is incredibly annoying (sometimes the boring kind of annoying, sometimes the pissed kind of annoying) in the latter parts and you really, really hate it! But then again, you also wonder how great it could have been become if just the entire game had been as much fun as the first couple of hours. The Duke may have survived for 15 years, but he has aged a lot. What a shame!

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