A sloppy game
Duke Nukem Forever is totally out of place with modern games. The game is stuck in the past were first-person platforming and interacting with sinks are major gameplay mechanics. Duke Nukem Forever delivers tropes of games past and makes a poor attempt in crafting a modern game in virtually every way. Duke does, however, carry two guns and has regenerating health. Those are the only aspects of the game keeping me from believing the development team haven’t played a shooter since 2002.
Duke Nukem is still all about testosterone and spitting out corny one-liners that would even make Bruce Campbell cringe. Objectifying women and generally being as offensive as possible, being as 90’s as possible, and being the cornucopia of what a 12 year-old thinks is awesome is the name of the game. Crude humor is a crutch that isn’t even thrown out as parody, but instead all the characters in the game’s universe sees Duke as “the king”. Every man wants to be him and all the women want to be with him. You know, the guy that says, “It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of gum”.
It’s rare to hear a line of dialog without profanity. The opening scene of the game is the only kind of funny part, sharing similarities with Scream 4’s opening. Only, Scream 4 was actually kind of cleaver and humorous. And unlike Duke, the Scream franchise is actually in on its joke. Duke Nukem Forever suffers from thinking players will laugh with the game, but instead we’re all laughing at it. The only way to make Duke an acceptable character is to break the fourth-wall and craft him into a parody. But Matt Hazard already did that, and that wasn’t a very great game either.
Aside from poorly executed humor, Duke Nukem Forever is also a badly designed game that at its peak moments only achieves mediocrity. There are significant portions of the game with no action, which is odd considering the linear design through environments that have no style to them. Some moments just seem utterly pointless. One segment had me shrink to the size of a doll to traverse the environment by driving an RC car. Once I returned to normal size, I had to literally backtrack through the route I just drove through. No plot point occurred, nor did I encounter any action aside from first-person platforming. The combat is dull. None of the weapons feel particularly important and aren’t fun to use either.
Aside from a sloppy campaign, Duke Nukem Forever also has a multiplayer component. Expect the standard game types, DeathMatch, Team DeathMatch, CTF and so on. Instead of a flag in CTF, it’s a lady you spank and carry back to your base. Just in case you forgot you were playing Duke Nukem. Like the rest of the game, the multiplayer seems dated in the worst ways possible. Jump pads and crazy Shrink Rays are great, but the game doesn't supply the old-school formula in a high-quality package.
Duke Nukem Forever has been in development for 14 years. It’s unrealistic to expect much out of this game. However, I surly didn’t expect to play one of the most boring games, ever. I don’t know if there was ever a time in which this game could have released and been considered good. I don’t like Duke Nukem for the same reason I don’t like Family Guy, it’s lazy humor. There’s a segment were an Officer says you have to go “save America”. Duke simply replies “America, fuck yeah!”. How old is that!? It isn’t cleaver and is more the game saying “hey, you remember this thing that was funny!?”.
It’s an accomplishment that Duke Nukem Forever is on store shelves. Ultimately, the game is a $60 retail product that has no business setting itself on the same level of other games of this genre. Duke is an old dog that needs to be taken behind the shed and put to sleep. Even if you stripped all the lowest-common-denominator humor, the game is boring and probably won’t satisfy anyone. It’s obvious a lot of people have gotten their hands on this game during the course of development. The game is a disjointed mess with elements that feel totally out of place by today’s standards. I’m glad I played it just to see the end chapter of a historic piece of videogame history. But unless you’re in that boat, don’t go into Duke Nukem Forever actually expecting to have fun.