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Video Game Review: Duke Nukem Forever
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Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
2K Games
Release Date: June 14, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever has had a wild ride. This game had been in development since 1996, herald at many an E3 convention as being the next “groundbreaking” game. The problem was, it never came out.

Developer 3D Realms would occasionally release some pictures or game play footage, but always staved off finishing the game by trying to put whatever was new and popular into it. Imagine someone you know is writing a book. For 14 years they would change it around adding whatever was hot at the moment: zombies, vampires, robots, the book would be a mess, right? This is the situation I imagine Gearbox Software was in when they inherited the unfinished game after 3D Realms was sued by its publisher. The very fact that this game was able to be pieced together into something releasable is a miracle. And that’s exactly what we got, something that feels 14 years old and pieced together. If you think about the game’s history, why would you expect anything less?

The Good

Play control – This is what I consider the most important part of a game, and Duke does it well. The controls are responsive, and even sections where you do something different, like drive an RC car since you got shrunk, work well.

It’s Funny – Some of the jokes are kind of lame and go too far, but others are pretty good, and ridiculous — what Duke should be. At one point you are offered some Power Armor, which Duke responds, “Power Armor’s for P**sies.” If you look at it, it’s Master Chief’s Armor. Pretty funny, not die laughing funny, but funny.

The Bad

Graphics – The graphics in this game look like you’re playing a game from 14 years ago. Blocky, choppy, and all the people have weird halos around them. They are serviceable, but not great.

Loading Times – This almost killed the game for me. Each “level” is very short with load times in between, again something similar to Resident Evil 2 when you moved between rooms, and when did that game come out? If this only happened between the levels it wouldn’t be so bad, but it was the fact that it happened every time you died that made it a mess. If you played a tricky part, you often spent more time in the loading screen than trying to beat it.

I credit Gearbox with actually making something that’s playable. I couldn’t even imagine what the code looked like that they received it. While the game may not be very good, it certainly isn’t the worst game I’ve played this year. Even with its faults, we need a game like Duke Nukem Forever. It’s fun, and different. When was the last time you played a FPS where you could also use the toilet and draw on white boards? Not often. Not all games need to be groundbreaking, and not all games need to be art. That is what 3D Realms was trying to do, and why they never finished. It’s a game that doesn’t follow the same formula as all the other shooters on the market, and I think that’s a good thing. This particular title may not have been well executed, but how could it have been? Since Gearbox now owns the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise, I’m excited to see what they do next. Hopefully the next Duke game will be more … Duketastic.

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