They finally did it. After many long years of waiting, Duke Nukem Forever has been released. I’ve had a play through of it, and have to say, not bad. not bad at all. I’d say four out of five. [rating=4] I’ve seen lower scores, but a lot of them seem to be marking it down for how long it spent in development hell. Which is hardly fair.
This isn’t a game for the easily offended;or young. Though I suspect teenage boys are hardly going to be warped by it. There’s far more on the net. Duke Nukem’s always been a stronghold of the unrepentant chauvinist. Expect bad jokes, mostly naked women, too many guns, and lots of references to old action films. On the other hand…. Come get some 😀 You’ve got a wise cracking tough guy from the same mould as every 80’s action movie star. The game isn’t self consious when there’s swearing. It just fits in context. And to be honest, it’s nice to have a protagonist who isn’t silent. Sure, it ‘spoils immersion’, but this game was never supposed to be immersive. It’s just an old fashioned First person shooter.
That’s where it’s dropping its score however. There were parts of it that felt just too much like the old school FPS, giving it a somewhat dated feel. And those bits were the boss battles. Don’t get me wrong, they were pretty inventive in how they did them, but too often they broke down into ‘Hide behind cover, till the boss stops shooting, then unload your rocket launcher into them. wait for the next pause to run to the ammo crate. Repeat until almost dead. Finish with a button hit at close range.’ Don’t get me wrong, each battle was individual, just repetitive within that battle. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time dying 😉 My reflexes aren’t what they used to be. I guess I did make my life harder by going for the achievement for carrying your initial pistol all through the game. With only two weapon slots, it’s kinda limiting. There were no random ‘alien jumps out behind you, when you’d cleared a section’, which is always annoying when it happens. It was scripted a couple of times, but always with something bursting through a door, or something similar. There were a few bits that felt a little random, which mostly lead to me dying a half-dozen times, but I got past them in the end.
There were some nice ‘mini-game’ bits to it. Nicely tied in, too, unlike the hacking games you get in some *cough*Bioshock*cough*. Other than those, like an extended driving bit, the game was pretty much a run and shoot. Low on the puzzles.
The plot was just an excuse for action, but then again, I really didn’t expect anything else. It really is the game equivalent of a big dumb summer action movie. Which works for me, as I like big dumb summer action movies.
The engine used was up to the job they threw at it. The surroundings were nicely detailed, and there was a good variety in the actual game play. The load screens between levels felt a bit clunky, but the checkpointing was almost perfect. There were a few places I’d have put the checkpoint just a little later, so I could skip exposition after dying, but not too many. Nice selection of weapons, two powerups that did a little too much to my screen for my liking, and a decent night vision mode, which had bits of maps designed to need it. And the underwater sections were pretty good, with enough breath to get where you needed, but not so much that you didn’t feel some tension. Movement speed felt pretty good. Nice and fast, and that’s without the sprint option; no shooting when sprinting.
Total hours of gameplay: About 10 to complete it. One of the developers said 16, but I suspect that’s for people who explore every nook and cranny, looking for the ‘ego boost’ bonuses; they’re basically max health increases. 10 wasn’t trying for a speed run or anything (good thing too. it’d suck for a speed run), it’s just me sitting down and playing it on normal.
Replay value: Not high for single player, unless you want to try on a higher difficulty level. Can’t say how the multiplayer is yet.
I played it on the PC, having bought it through Steam. Plenty of achievements, with just the right number of ‘did it for the achievement’ achievements. No multiplayer only achievements, which I prefer. Always annoys me when I won’t get half of them, as I play single player only.
After you complete the single player campaign, it unlocks a few bonus features, like development artwork, screenshots, and a timeline. The last feels just a trifle apologetic 😉