Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox, 3D Realms
by: Nicholas "BAPenguin" Puleo
It may have been the longest running joke in the videogame industry, but Duke Nukem Forever has finally arrived thanks to the helpful hand of Gearbox Software. The studio’s president, Randy Pitchford, told the press before the release that the game was as 3D Realms intended, their job was only to finish it. Twelve years is a long time for anything to be in development, whether it’s a movie, book, or a videogame - the culture in which that content was built on changes during that time. Duke Nukem Forever clearly suffers from its long development.
I’m pretty sure the second level may be one of the only things Gearbox actually helped create, as almost the entire thing is a bit of fan service as you walk Duke through a museum of himself admiring his past achievements and cracking jokes about past games. It's one of the few parts that have actual jokes about things within the past few years. But the jarring reality of what Duke Nukem Forever is occurs 3 seconds in, as the first action you actually do is piss in a urinal. While you jump right into the action with a boss fight, It’s a good 25 minutes afterwards till you actually shoot something - though in typical Duke 3D fashion there’s plenty to mess around with - pool tables, faucets, televisions. The problem here is, while these gimmicky things were amazing at one point in videogames, now they are just the norm.
I do commend Duke Forever to some degree on its level design, something most FPS games don’t seem to do well anymore. There’s a whole puzzle element to getting from point a to point b -and while you may see your path almost immediately, there’s never a clear cut way to get there. Some sections of the game are almost entirely too long in this manner though, and so it falters. Others you simply become lost in a repeated maze of similar geometry, unsure if you went this way or that.
The bottom line for Duke Nukem Forever is the game is down right offensive at times. It takes things too far and touches subjects that a videogame probably shouldn’t try to touch. There’s more intelligent ways to make a joke in a game about numerous adult subjects, but the blatant crudeness of some of the jokes are cringeworthy. For the most part, I was unable to play the game with my wife in the room, not for fear of offending her, but because I was embarrassed to play the game.
When all is said and done, Duke Nukem Forever really never had hope to be a great game. Twelve years takes its toll on things, and while I did get some enjoyment out of what I played and felt a tiny bit of nostalgia, I’d rather just go back and play Duke Nukem 3D in co-op to get my fix.