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Review: Duke Nukem Forever

The infamous and storied piece of crap game that took half a lifetime to make.

It's not awful, it's just really bad. There's a reason this game wasn't ever released and that is that it was never in a state to be released. When Gearbox bought whatever they bought, they seem to have just scraped up all the guts off the floor and tried to squish them into a sausage casing. What comes out isn't quite meat.

Loading zones for different levels are joined together with load screens instead of seamless loads, levels that have no apparent story purpose (maybe they're dream sequences?) just show up in the middle of nowhere. Duke is knocked out, Duke falls over, the screen fades to black, Duke turns tiny, Duke turns big again. Gearbox literally wasn't even interested in bringing in John St. John to record some new dialogue to make the whole thing make sense, they just wanted it done to get it out the door, so they got someone to make a mashup script and delivered the minimum necessary exposition through other characters (marines, a breakaway general, a selfish turncoat president).

It's as if people were working on multiple Duke games without even greyboxing/orangeboxing a full experience or ever writing a script or a plot or a framing story or a premise. Four basic enemy types, but four or five bosses. A minecart level, an underwater level, sewers, truck driving, a burger joint, a strip club, Duke's mansion, a casino that looks a lot like the casinos from Rainbow Six Vegas, but not as visually interesting.

There are multiple vertical slices here just stitched together, and a bunch of areas that just aren't complete. Zones that are POCs for different puzzles all stolen from Half Life 2 (truck rolls over, flip it back up, runs out of gas, fuel it up; weigh down a lever with some heavy barrels; turn a wheel to open a sluice-gate), with nearly no enemies at all in some areas, like, uh, they aren't finished.

It's clear that Gearbox was interested in the IP, not in the game. This game was released to get back what they paid in cash to the owners who had flushed their careers down the toilet working on the ultimate Duke Nukem experience. The real Duke game is unannounced, running third string to Gearbox's main franchise Borderlands and whatever junk they're half farming out to some other developer who is way in over their head for SEGA.

Pass. Really not worth your time even if you get it on a Steam sale.

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