Duke Nukem Forever has received quite a beating in the press. Some of it just and some of it I personally believe is just both press and gamers stumbling over one and other to see who can kick it to the ground the hardest. I myself finished the game yesterday and I won't defend it's weak spots. The loading times are horrible on the 360, the level design is weak at points, the boss design sometimes downright retarded, etc. I don't think I need to list the things wrong here any further. The 14 years in development show... we know.
But it's not all bad. In fact I think one often mentioned 'bad point' is actually a good point. A lot of reviews raise the issue that the game design is not relevant anymore. Outdated game play that games like Halo and Call of Duty moved beyond. And while I really enjoy games like Halo and CoD I have to object to this line of thinking. The style of FPS that Duke Nukem Forever represents is old yes. The slower moving FPS, more focused on just blasting away and navigating the environment. Often with a big dose of humor thrown in. A FPS that simply does not take itself serious.
This used to be a huge part of the FPS genre. Not just Duke, but also games like Red Neck Rampage and Shadow Warrior are prime examples. While the path is linear you have slightly more freedom. Your not being pushed forward from big set-piece to big set-piece. A lot of modern FPS are either 'highly intellectual'. The art-house variants of shooters. Like Bioshock. Or they are the huge big summer block busters. Like Halo or Call of Duty. But the simple fun to shoot some pixels in the face shooters seem to have disappeared. With only Serious Sam holding the fort. A bit more the b titles, the grind house movies if you want to continue to draw the comparison to movies.
While Duke's latest adventure was poor perhaps in technical execution, the type of gameplay it represents is something somebody like me has been missing. I don't always want to consume all big explosions or feel all art noir. Sometimes I just want to have a wee bit of fun. Just messing about. And this type of FPS or even video game is hardly being made anymore. Publishers are a freight it won't sell, to niche market for the big development budgets is my guess. DNF could be like this now and still sell because of the name alone. But I fear it actually also ends this type of game play for good now. Which is a shame, because DNF wasn't replacing anybodys diet, it was adding a little variation to it. Like forgotten vegetables. One could argue that it was probably forgotten for a reason. But not everything newer is always better. And like with forgotten vegetables there is still a market for it as people's tastes differ.
Given the huge number of greytoned 'modern warfares', I would love for a higher quality Duke game. And then I don't mean becoming a modern game in the terms of emulating CoD. A highly scripted roller coaster. No, just simply better graphic's, normal loading times, tighter level design (but still old school style) and fun old school shootouts. Because without the Duke those of us who like those types of games need to rely again on Serious Sam. And Serious Sam often suffers from a lot of the problems that DNF also does. And is less funny to boot. It represents the Doom style shooter more then the Duke Nukem 3D type shooter. Spice up our shooter experience a bit going retro, but doing it well. Not seeing it as retro. But just another way to give us the shooter experience. Because all the ghost-recons of the world are just going to fail anyway I fear.
[This is my first blog item here. Be gentle. Also I am not a native English speaker, so forgive any mistakes please]