Duke Nukem Forever game review: After 14-years Duke returns, none the worse for wear, kinda

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Fourteen years, man, Fourteen years! This is it, after waiting 14 very long years of enduring false promises and having my Duke Nukem Forever gaming hopes kicked down and crushed into vaporware, the game is finally in my clammy little hands, errr, hard drive.

I was a little hesitant to actually boot the game up on my computer due to fears of generating flying pigs and hell freezing over, as many gamers have quipped over the years about having an actual shipping version of the game.

So is Duke Nukem Forever worth it? If your a fan like me… almost! It does a decent job of bringing back the old kick-ass attitude along with a few updates here and there to make it a viable successor to the Duke Nukem series. If you’re new to Duke Nukem you may be surprised to learn Duke Nukem 3D is considered one of the pioneer first-person shooters, and was on the forefront of creating video game controversy using raunchy themes and humor way back in the nineties.

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But does Duke Nukem Forever bring anything new to the table for todays gaming crowd? In one word, no. If you’re a gamer looking for cutting-edge graphics and gameplay you will be sadly disappointed. If, however, you’re a gamer with a few years under your belt and memories of playing the first, first-person shooters, you can appreciate the retro feel of the game and relive a little raunchiness too.

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Duke Nukem Forever takes place 12 years after the events of Duke Nukem 3D. The title character begins the game as  world renowned media icon who gets his ego stroked at every turn. Players navigate Duke through a series of levels that allow them to interact with various objects in the game. Actions include driving remote controlled vehicles, drawing on white boards and even flushing toilets.  These interactions let players increase Duke’s “ego” bar, which replaces the old health bar system. Players can also increase Duke’s “ego” by killing bosses, drinking energy drinks from a vending machine and by even simply looking into a mirror and admiring all that is Duke.

Players’ main objective is the same as before – killing a multitude of aliens invading earth, while trying to save people who mostly end up being skimpily clad young women. There are many cut scenes between levels, and while some are funny, others seem a little too familiar “old” Duke humor. Save states of the game come in the form of checkpoints which seems a little annoying, but work nonetheless.

Most of the weapons and items in the game are familiar and include steroids, handguns, alien weaponry, shotguns, pipe bombs, and laser tripwires. One drawback I noticed is you can only hold two weapons at any one time and end up dropping one when more than two are acquired. The levels I played I didn’t come across any jetpacks – sad panda face – but I hear they exist in the multiplayer version of the game which I haven’t played yet.

While the graphics have been updated to today’s standards, there is nothing ground breaking to see. Some may argue that although the visuals have been much upgraded 15-year-old standards, there are hints of retro patterns and backgrounds in certain levels. Some ambient graphic features are welcome, such as getting to close to a shower and water drops splash onto and run down your screen.

The sound is decent enough, but nothing much new to report here. The familiar Duke one liners wear a little thin sometimes, but are funny as expected. The metal rock music themes covers background well and helps transitions levels in various parts of the game.

At the conclusion of more than 12 years of game development, players would expect a lot more from Duke Nukem Forever. To be fair, however, though most of that time development of the game was fraught with legal battles, bankruptcies and buy-outs.

If you want to relive some retro Duke Nukem gaming with his familiar attitude, updated graphics and maps then Duke Nukem Forever might be worth it for you. But if you’re a gamer demanding and looking for the next “thing,” you will most likely be disappointed.

The game lives up to my memories, but also falls somewhat short of bringing anything really new to the Duke Nukem series. That’s fine by me. Sometimes after a hard days work and all the political correctness being thrown around, I just want to come home, sit down and have some mindless fun blasting aliens, ruffing up bad guys and saving scantiliy-clad girls.

On a side note I may have been one of the last few people to get a PR
copy of the game before the PR firm representing GearBox Software, The
Redner Group, was fired for allegedly posting a rant online directed at
some game reviewers for giving bad reviews of the game.

I give Duke Nukem Forever a 3.5 out of a 5 rating, ‘Hail to the King Baby,’ finally!


Duke Nukem Forever

Gearbox Software/Take-Two Interactive

PC, PlayStation 3, XBox 360 (Reviewed on PC)

Rated M for Mature


PC Minimum Specifications 

Windows XP/Vista/7 

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.0 Ghz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 @ 2.0 Ghz 

Memory: 1 Gb 

Hard Drive: 10 Gb free 

Video Memory: 256 MB 

Video Card: nVidia GeForce 7600 / ATI Radeon HD 2600 

Sound Card: DirectX Compatible

PC Recommended Specifications 

Windows XP/Vista/7 

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4 Ghz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 @ 2.6 Ghz 

Memory: 2 Gb 

Hard Drive: 10 Gb free 

Video Memory: 512 MB 

Video Card: nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS / ATI Radeon HD 3850 

Sound Card: DirectX Compatible