No longer the King, Duke returns
How long has it been? Well, 2 generations of consoles, we finished the fight(or so we thought), we traveled throughout the Fallout wastelands of Washington D.C., and New Vegas, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft has helped expand psychiatric wards, and Zelda is in 3D without glasses, but don’t look now Duke Nukem has returned.
It’s been 12 long years since Duke Nukem Forever was first announced. Its numerous delays, rumors, and constant question of when has made release dates a yearly gaming community joke. That joke can now be laid to rest as Gearbox has finally completed the ultimate game, getting DKF to a store near you. The biggest question still remains, has it all been worth the wait.
First of all I never played any of the previous Duke titles. The hype I guess got me somewhat excited for the game, but my expectations are not what they are for say a title like Bioshock Infinite, or Skyrim. That being said I can say DKF delivers a nostalgic looking fun title with a lengthy campaign, solid controls, good level design, a variety of game play, bastardly enemy AI, multiple environments, and the voice work of Jon St. John as Duke. However, age has not been kind to Duke and while some will be glad to reminisce of gaming’s past, it’s the present and future that is missing from DNF.
The story of DNF is pretty straightforward, more to the point it doesn’t matter. The story is so absent that I constantly kept asking myself, what am I am doing here, what am I looking for? There is no map, or mission objective to review so while the game is pretty linear pay close attention if you want some clarity to what the hell you are doing.
The best parts of DNF for me were basically the variety of game play offered. There are challenging gun and boss battles, RC car and monster truck driving levels, platforming, puzzle solving, and a simple R&R chapter in a strip club. In the club you can play parlor games such as pinball, ice hockey, and others all while enjoying the sights of the strip club itself. All of these moments are broken into lengthy chapters that help maintain an overall good pace for the game.
The game also offers solid and responsive controls. To put it in perspective, without the controls offered this game could have been a complete disaster. One poor aspect I have to mention is the auto aim feature which unfortunately is horrible. This is not a game breaker but due to its lack of accuracy will cause you to die more often.
Another positive of the game includes the numerous environments you will be exploring. Gunfights inside and outside a Vegas Hotel, an alien hive, the Duke Dome, the Nevada desert, Hoover dam, sewers, and construction sites to name just a few. The different environments help keep the game play from being repetitive.
This could be the hardest game on normal difficulty I have played in a long time. I started the game on hard and had to turn it down at the first big boss encounter. I will just say the enemy AI is really good to where they are always moving, shooting or charging you. Rarely are they standing still, and while they do follow certain pre planned paths you are pretty much a bullet magnet which does not help your situation. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good and fair(sometimes) challenge, but odds are you will be over matched most of the time. The reason you are over matched is the developer’s decision to let you only carry two weapons at a time and cover is hard to find. The ability to carry an additional weapon could have balanced the difficulty more in the players favor to where its not frustrating at times.
Speaking of weapons, this is another disappointment. A game which IMO seems to promote guns as a major component is probably its weakest. I was expecting crazy, powerful weapons, but for the most part you will be carrying around a pistol, and shotgun. Other weapons are available usually for boss, or large group encounters, but ammo is not scattered around enough to carry them long term.
Another component which is poorly handled is the so called power ups. This includes steroids which makes you stronger, beer which makes you take less damage, and the holoduke. They are rarely available and difficult to find. The holoduke for example isn’t even introduced until late in the game.
Finally the most agonizing, eye gouging, pain staking part of the game is the loading screen times. Each time you start, or restart due to a death it will take 30-40 seconds of time to load. Now that doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you die, and you will die often, it begins to feel like minutes.
Overall I like DNF and would recommend to those who remember the good old days of playing a long, solid FPS on the PC. I wouldn’t pay $60, but it’s a solid $30-40 title. It may look and lack the newer standard game play elements, and graphical power found in today’s FPS but don’t let that deter you from the fact it offers a glimpse back to the past, but just doesn’t present anything for the future.
Good level design, multiple environments
Variety of game play
Challenging but a whole lot of fun
Looks and feels like an semi update version of Half-Life
Story is non existent
Guns feel weak
Auto aim is horrible
Load times may be the worst ever
Reviewed on Samsung 57” DLP with Xbox 360
Played the 1 6 chapters on hard and the rest on Normal difficulty for a total time of 18 hours.