by wildcard zen
Blog

How Duke Nukem was dethroned

Twelve years, Duke fans waited for a sequel to bring the king back.  They almost got it. 

Despite what many reviewers say, the game is not an epic failure.  It does pay homage to the original Duke and does a great job re-skinning and updating "Total Meltdown," from interacting with strippers to the shrink ray puzzles.  The game is loaded with LOL pokes at Halo, Portal, and even a few jabs at Call of Duty.  But it's loaded with flaws and missed oppurtunities.

The first big problem with this game - the industry is almost burned out on first person shooters.  We are looking for the "Call of Duty Killer.  So, a good FPS needs something to stand out in the hordes of shooters.

For Duke, it was beer, strippers, pissing for health boosts, and lots of action movie one-liners mixed with cheap jabs at other popular games.  After the success of "Borderlands," this should be right up Gearbox's alley.  With standard "Call of Duty" style controls, experience with open sandbox enviornments, and smooth cinematics blended in with the action, the formula for success was ready.

So, what happened?

  The one-liners and action movie cliches became way too repetitive by the half-way point.  The strippers and skin interactive scenes were antiquated after "God of War," "Mass Effect," "Heavy Rain," and "Dante's Inferno" elevated the bar for interactive nudity in games, and the gameplay became as linear as a late 1990's "Doom" shooter clone.

Oh, and not since "Tomb Raider" had underwater puzzle chapters become hair pulling.

But as I played the campaign, I could not help but see several instances where I saw blown oppurtunities.

Let's start with boss battles!  The "humiliations" were on the right track, but why repeat the "Ball boxing?"  A game striving to be as over-the-top politically incorrect, why not more options in finishing moves?  After all, was there not a scene in the video promos of Duke ripping the head off of an alien, then grabbing a newspaper to read while he took a crap on its neck?  Why not more boss battles?  More humiliations?  Here was a chance to create five different ways to humiliate a fallen boss (even make some achievements for performing them all!)

The chapters! There were definite places with a lot of wide open areas, but the developers managed to take these areas and make them linear! And why would anyone want ot try and explore?  Oh, those interactive "Ego" items and mini-games.  Spend an hour searching the desert and maybe you'll find a pin-up calendar that rewards you with 1 point of "Ego!"

Really?  Is this the same company that gave us millions of guns to find on Borderlands?  Major missed chance here for - oh, I dunno!  maybe some more weapons?  bigger Ego boosts?  Customizations for multiplayer maybe?

And now for the biggest criticism I have for Duke.  DOES HE EVER SAVE ANYONE?  What is with all the mercy killing the naked women?  Could they have not made a great chapter of Duke escorting a horde of naked women out of the alien vessel?  Could they have not made a great achievement challenge - kill the Pregnators before they hatch and infect the victims?  Or maybe "Escort 100 naked women to safety?"  No!  We watch every single woman in the game explode in gooey alien parts - OR we hit them so they die before it happens.  Oh, not to mention how many of the EDF guys that always die helping you.  When it comes to being a hero - Duke sucks!

All the beer does is make you stronger, but blurs your vision?  So - why bother with the steroids?  Oh, beer is funnier.

Speaking of the beer, I wonder if I'm the only one thinking that Grayson Hunt of Bulletstorm has dethroned the King.  Sure!  Grayson is a screw-up, got his ship crashed and most of his crew killed - but he DID save the hot chick's life! And he does shoot while drunk!  Here's two points where the new guy surpassed the King with flying colors!  So, Duke nukes a dam.  Grayson fried an entire planet!

So, am I the only that sees Grayson Hunt drinking Duke under the table?

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