A Quick Review of Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever is great if you want to experience what it feels like to be a gerbil on a treadmill, or a rat running a maze. It treats the player as a complete incompetent and has the the weakest gun play I have encountered in an FPS; it reminds me of the sort of action you’d expect from a Russian bargain bin game. The much lauded interactivity consists of a series of “quick time events” which add nothing to gameplay and clearly occupied the developer’s attention away from actually important tasks. You will have to manually pull up dozens, if not hundreds, of jammed doors. This is done by walking up to said door, pressing your use use key and then rapidly tapping space bar. While you can do pointless things like piss in a urinal – you cannot control the motion of the golden stream. This I refer to as the allegory of the golden stream. Like all things in Duke Nukem Forever, it creates the illusion of worthiness, when in fact it is merely a gimmick intended to distract us from gaping failures elsewhere.

Polish is non-existent. Some characters have no animations and just inhabit the game world like statues. The game developers clearly attempted to mask the laughable graphics engine with some shaders and post-processing effects which make the entire world look like its covered in a thick layer of bubble wrap. A clearly defined path is made for the player, and zero possibility presents itself to actually play something. Rather, the game is a series of scripted events designed to deliver stale punchlines. Much like a Seltzer and Friedberg  flick (and to a lesser degree Family Guy), Duke’s mere invocation of pop culture memory is intended to make us laugh. All it does is depress.

The artificial intelligence is reminiscent of pre-Half-Life days. Enemies clunkily run or walk up to you then shoot their weapons in  specific, consistent groupings much like in Doom. And as to the Duke feel? Well this feels like a pastiche, and a vulgar one at that. While the obsessive Duke worship you experience in the game was perhaps amusing at first, it quickly loses its flare, and persists throughout most of the game. Indeed, as I was playing I did not really reminisce or feel nostalgia for the Duke of yore; instead the game reminded me of Doom 3. A dark corridor shooter where enemies jump out in a claustrophobic environment. Yet Duke Nukem Forever is arguably more unbearable than Doom 3 (and that isn’t a compliment to the underwhelming Doom 3) – with its incredibly simple and insulting “gameplay” in which required interactions are highlighted with a radiant yellow glow. Duke Nukem Forever is one part corridor shooter, one part jumping puzzle and three parts Hollywood studio style marketing hype.

Don’t buy this and don’t play it.