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Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

Tom Silkstone
Action Games, Duke Nukem Forever, Games reviews, PC games, PS3 games, Xbox 360 games
Duke Nukem Forever | PC | Playstation 3 | Xbox 360

Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 & PS3

Developers: Where to start?! 3D Realms (1997-2009), Triptych Games (2009 -), Gearbox Software (2009 -) & Piranha Games

Publisher: 2K Games (2010 - )

I sat staring at the copy of Duke Nukem Forever that was resting on my desk not quite believing it was real, after all 14 years of problems, delays, and waiting's a pretty long time! Once I'd got over the initial shock of actually being able to reach out and touch the game, I decided it was time to load it up. A cool introductory sequence sees Duke standing over a craps table with a couple of babes whilst a generic rock track plays in the background, Mr. Nukem rolls a set of dice displaying the developers names before declaring "I'm back baby!". Following this, the game's logo pops up and the familiar theme tune blares out of your TV speakers. Needless to say, it grabs your attention and fires you up for a roller coaster ride of action mayhem.

The plot's about as straightforward as they come; the aliens that Duke previously defeated return to Earth and he's ordered not to go charging in guns blazing by the President. However, once the extra terrestrials start stealing babes and taking pot shots at him, Duke decides it's time to kick their asses again! As you'd expect from the Duke Nukem series there are plenty of scantily clad women, loads of guns, the humour's crude, it's frequently offensive, and to wrap things up there's a good amount of blood and gore to boot, it's definitely a boys game; the Yorkie bar of the gaming world you might say. Unfortunately things go a bit downhill from here!

Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

Now, whilst Duke Nukem Forever isn't the worst shooter in the world, it's nowhere near the top of the list. The aiming system is quite frankly abysmal, in fact, due to its light colouring, there are times when the target reticule might as well not be there, which sadly means that the biggest challenge you'll face in the game is accurately targeting your enemies before they get a chance to completely destroy you. There isn't a proper cover system either, so you'll have to look for something that's roughly equal to Duke's size to run and hide behind if your ego bar's starting to diminish. It's a real shame because if both of these aspects were better, I wouldn't have found my irritation levels steadily rising throughout the game and I might have been able to sit back and enjoy it a bit more, instead of frantically trying to get to the end so that I could get away from the experience, which isn't really what you want.

The levels are incredibly linear, which means that the breaks you get from shooting pigcops in order to solve puzzles, particularly when you've been shrunk, don't exactly last very long. The only other distractions come in the form of ogling babes, hitting arcade machines, trying to top your score on pinball machines, taking on an opponent at air hockey, shooting a few hoops, or sinking some balls on the pool table. Once again, if these mini-games had been thought out properly and the gameplay had been given some more polish, they could have been a nice offshoot to the main game, but as they stand they're just a good example of quantity over quality!

Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

Duke needs vehicles that are capable of matching his flamboyance, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear you'll take control of a flash RC car, his very own monster truck "The Mighty Foot", as well as sitting behind the gun of a chopper. The driving's passable, it's nothing special, but it is quite amusing to see your enemies fly across the screen when they take even the smallest of nudges from The Mighty Foot. I also thought it was a nice touch when Ride Of The Valkyries started playing when you're gunning people down in the drop ship.

Most of the levels are split into parts, so instead of seamlessly passing through one area, you'll find yourself having to stop and wait at a load screen from time to time, which wouldn't have been quite so annoying if they weren't so damned long! On the plus side, when you're killed, which'll happen a fair amount, you'll have enough time to review your tactics and come up with a new strategy to punish your enemies.

Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

The boss battles are pretty much all the same, you need to find some cover to avoid their attacks and defeat their minions with a rapid fire weapon like the ripper, until you've penetrated their defences at which point you need to bombard them with as many explosives as possible. Are they challenging? Not really, their defeat is inevitable, you'll only find yourself in trouble if they manage to hit you, which is a problem because most of the bosses only need to hit you once to strip your ego away.

One good thing about the game, for movie and game trivia fans at least, are the vast amount of references that have been thrown into the single player campaign. You'll see and indeed hear nods to films like Predator, Commando, Army Of Darkness, 300, Eraser, Pulp Fiction, Team America, Highlander, and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, in addition to the gaming references which include shout outs to Halo, Valve Puzzle games (so Portal & Portal 2), Donkey Kong, Dead Space, and Mortal Kombat.

Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

Once you've completed the game you'll unlock several extras that range from screenshots taken between 1999 and 2003, a development timeline from May 1996 to June 2011, a sound board where you can select and play Duke's lines, and a load of videos related to the game, which I suppose isn't all that bad.

The multiplayer is chaotic to say the least, as people scrabble around to find explosive weaponry like the RPG and the Devastator to turn each other into steaming piles of meat, which means that it's firepower you'll be needing rather than any skill. Finally, the customisation of your online character and your digs is pretty basic and I lost interest in the process remarkably quickly.

Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

It's a real shame because Duke Nukem Forever could have been an amazing return for an iconic video games character, but instead we've got another bland shooter that lacks any wow factor whatsoever and is stuck so far in the past you'll assume you've taken a trip to the 90s in Doc Brown's DeLorean whilst playing it. This is an especially big problem when you consider the length of development because after all this time the game really needed to blow us all away, instead of feeling like the developers just contested defeat with it and decided to churn it out now rather than never. Looking at the year ahead and the months that are already behind us, I can safely say that this one'll probably be the most disappointing game I'll get my hands on, and I can't wait to trade it in for either Child Of Eden or Alice: Madness Returns next week.


  • Loads of film and game references
  • You get to step into Duke's shoes again
  • It'll occasionally put a smile on your face


  • The aiming is awful
  • There isn't a cover system
  • It feels incredibly dated

The Short Version: Unfortuntely, it's definitely not worth the wait!

Duke Nukem Forever Review | Come Get Some?

Add a comment8 comments
Ashpolt  Jun. 12, 2011 at 18:27

I can understand (if not necessarily agree with) most of this review, but how is "there isn't a cover system" a problem with the game? I can stand or duck behind stuff and not get hit: you can use cover. Not every shooter needs a Gears of War / Rainbow Six Vegas style lock-to-cover system to function. Neither Halo or Call of Duty have a lock-to-cover system, and yet I don't see anyone complaining about them. In fact, I'd say it's very much to this game's strength that it doesn't end up as a whack-a-mole cover shooter.

Also, I've not seen a single review mention just how imaginative this game is. Within an hour or two of starting the game, aside from the core shooting gameplay, I'd already solved a problem using an RC car, got shrunk and driven another RC car, had shrunken shootouts with enemies throwing condiment bottles at me, and plenty more. The game isn't perfect by any means, but it's at least a solid 8/10, and I'd rather play this than yet another Call of Duty with exactly the same damn campaign as the last one.

Dunny  Jun. 12, 2011 at 19:04

Having played the demo I was going to cancel my pre-order, luckily I forgot because I'm genuinely enjoying the final game!

I think the humour and amount of variety on offer saves it! Ignoring the fact its been in development for 12 years and I'd give it a solid 8/10.

Muramasa+1  Jun. 12, 2011 at 21:49

I know why you hated it so much, because you bought it for a console.

and to think, they ruined the PC version for people like you.

Patrick Stevvart  Jun. 12, 2011 at 22:32

Yep, its definitely at least an 8/10 from me as well.

This review clearly bought the game based on the fact that he'd heard off a friend who was a Duke Nukem fanboy that this game was amazing, and was disappointed. While us level headed gamers who've been following the Duke franchise since the original, or at the very least, Duke3D, wont have been expecting anything from it.

Like Aspholt says, the variety in gameplay is what makes the campaign stand out, and in my eyes puts it way ahead of any other FPS campaign out there. The multiplayer is also fantastic fun, much better than the perk and weapon unlock rubbish people have been brainwashed into wanting. The whole unlocking extra stuff for your Duke pad is a much better and creative idea.

It's far from perfect, but this reviewer clearly has his head too far up Activi$ion's A$$ to play games for fun anymore.

No cover system? REALLY? REAAAAALLY?!!!?!?! There are literally 3 or 4 games that utilise a cover system in the FPS world, and none of the systems work properly. Same for the aiming negative, whats wrong with it? Just because you dont have your ez-mode iron sight auto lock on win button? The shooting mechanics are solid enough, and pretty much the same as Halo, if you need a modern day reference.

While you are at it, you may as well revise all the other Halo games to 5/10 scores, because none of them have cover systems or iron sights either, or maybe thats fine in your eyes due to the stronger auto aim on Halo games?

*facepalm* *facepalm* *facepalm*

Matt Gardner  Jun. 12, 2011 at 23:46

To the criticisms that have been aired, I'll concede that it doesn't necessarily warrant a cover system, although there's a reason Tom made that comment and I'll touch on it in a bit. There are plenty of run and gun games out there that work fine. But as with all games with a long development cycle, it's so very long in the tooth.

The mechanics creak under the weight of ages, though, and the loading times are utterly unforgivable. Spending five or ten minutes with the game is acceptable, but any longer and the frustration begins to creep in with a vengeance. I was a convert when I played the demo (Pitchford's excitement in person is utterly addictive), even though I had misgivings. But the fact is that by the endgame all that prevails is a strong sense of frustration. Duke deserves better than this. Gearbox have DONE better than this. I stick by the 5, a game without the nostalgia value would have scored under - indeed some have been far more harsh. If you're a die hard fan, then yes, stick another point on for rose-tinted specs, but to anyone coming at this without a sense of who or what Duke signifies (and whether or not that's completely out of date is to be saved for a different post), this is a lacklustre shooter to say the least. The FPS genre lives and dies by its mechanics, and DNF falls way way short in that respect, on console particularly. The PC version I have heard cleans up a lot of the choppy framerate, sluggish gameplay and awful glitching. But that still doesn't make it a great game.

The worst part is that where Gearbox have made modern concessions, it doesn't make any sense! The two weapon limit is utterly ludicrous in a game like this. For a game about the ultimate badass, it does a good job of making you feel disarmingly weak. Tom's point about cover is worthy because the game forces you to try and take shelter as it spams you with adversaries. With a massive arsenal at your disposal this wouldn't be an issue, but now, bizarrely, it is. The online modes, although dressed slightly differently, still stubbornly echo long-worn and basic tropes.

That said, it was born to be a divisive title. I'm glad that people like it. But I've also just had a conversation with a friend of mine who was looking forward to it for aaaaages and then ranted down the phone at me for twenty minutes because we gave it a '5' rather than consign it to ashes with something lower, I'm going to stick by it. I did a quick survey this evening of a number of people I know who bought the game on release and of the fourteen I spoke to, three gave it an 8, two gave it a 7, three gave it a 6, two gave it a 5, three gave it a 4 and one gave it a 3.

It's funny, I'll give it that; and humour is in short supply these days. Some parts of it are imaginative, and it does hark back to an era filled with an innovative creative process that's much lacking now. Whether for good or for ill it dares tread paths in terms of taboo content no one would any more. But it's also fundamentally flawed, its self styled bridging point across a decade and a half hanging like a noose around its neck. It can be fun. But it can also, through no fault of the player, become an exercise in extreme frustration. And for that, a five is perfectly fitting.

Ashpolt  Jun. 13, 2011 at 01:45

So your justification for Tom's comment about it needing a cover system is that "the game forces you to try and take shelter as it spams you with adversaries"? You can do that without a dedicated cover system. Here's how you do it: find something solid and position yourself behind it. It's simple, and it works. There is absolutely no need for a dedicated stick-to-cover system: it would actually be to the game's detriment if it had one, as it'd slow the pace down by causing the player to stay hidden rather than avoiding incoming fire by simply dodging it.

I can totally agree about the two weapon limit being a bad point, though. It basically stops me from ever using the more outlandish weapons, and instead I just fall back on the old reliable shotgun and ripper pretty much all the time, except for bosses. The shrink ray is fun, but not practical, so why would I ever carry it around when it takes up a full half of my weapon capacity?

And as you note, the PC version doesn't seem to suffer from some of the issues of the console version. Loading times for me are merely a few seconds, and I've had no issues with framerate even though I'm running it at 2560x1440.

Finally, I'd like to note that my rough score of 8/10 owes precisely nothing to nostalgia value - as a die-hard PC gamer, it shames me to say this, but I've barely played Duke Nukem 3D. In fact, I believe I've played more of it on my iPhone than I have on PC. I just appreciate DNF for being something different to the current endless churn of brown'n'bloom, po-faced modern warfare shooters. I think there's room for all kind of games in the market, and I think it's a shame to see a game like this overlooked simply because it's not the same as every other popular game.

Jonathan Lester  Jun. 13, 2011 at 11:22

I'm going to go into this one with an open mind (and a love of simpler times), but remember that 5/10 doesn't mean that the game is bad, just average and fun for its target audience in parts. We don't subscribe to the populist "7/10 is an average game" mentality, and I hope you guys do the same.

Joshua S-H  Jun. 13, 2011 at 17:56

Honestly the cover system complaint is unjustified.

The aiming is awful? what? The aiming seemed fine to mean, you need to re-evaluate the weapons they aren't exactly designed to be sniper rifles, or even modern rifles.

Load times? Serves you right for playing a PC born FPS on a console... My load times have been around 5 seconds at most. In some cases (new level) 10 or so.

You would prefer a modern warfare over this? At least this gives me a ludicrous amount of variety. One minute I'm remote controlling an RC car to bring me an energy cell, another time I'm escaping shrunk down in one. While 10 minutes later I'm manning a gunship shooting other things out the air.

A decent amount of deliberately offensive/slapstick comedy brings a great feel to the game and ultimately to give this 5 out of 10 is absolutely ridiculous. If you want a generic shooter game with bells and whistles and "non-dated" feel then why the heck would you by a game which is a dedication to a game from over 10 years ago? Of course it will feel dated, ITS MEANT TO.

Shocked by this review. It's no 10/10, but it's easily 7/8.

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