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  •   Duke Nukem Forever Review

    13/06/11 - 17:28

    Firstly, let me preface this by saying I am a massive Duke Nukem fanboy – even shelling out for the Balls of Steel collectors edition, and then repeatedly hitting F5 on the amazon ordering screen to see when it would be dispatched. Also, I won’t be sticking any screenshots on this review – as I had to turn everything to low because my gaming rig is older than Stonehenge.

    Well where to begin? Everyone knows that DNF has been stuck in development hell forever. The hype surrounding it has grown to almost epic proportions – there was no way any game would ever live up to the amount of hype that it has generated over such a long time. However, I feel it did pretty well overall. I played the game with keyboard and mouse, as using a gamepad to play Duke seemed almost sacrilegious giving its cult pc background. Sometimes this felt a little sluggish, this was very apparent with mouse turning speeds. Battering spacebar in quicktime events also annoyed me somewhat – its a nice idea but when you fail for the fifth time on a boss because your space bar hitting skills are lacking, it strikes me as a bit silly. That and quicktime events just annoy me in general.

    So aside from the control issue, how was it? A lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even playing with ugly ugly graphics. It had a very retro Duke feeling through out; the one liners, awesome music and the wonderful feeling of playing with familiar weapons. I’ll add my voice to the others complaining about the two weapon system – there were times I wished I had weapon X as it would be better than weapon Y1 and Y2 I had stocked. Having said that, weapons and ammo are plentiful – I never found myself short of things to shoot people with. The action definitely seems to be more of a duck and cover exercise than the twitch fest of the original – but Duke Nukem Forever isn’t a remake of Duke3d – it is an entirely different game. Though I will admit, comparisons to Duke Nukem Forever and Duke3d are hard not to make, as they FPS that feature the iconic Duke.

    The story is typical Duke, and seeing his own branding on the locations present in the game was a nice touch – the world seems as obsessed with Duke as he is with himself, which is exactly how it should be in the Duke-iverse. Though he is a character that I wouldn’t really want to describe as a role model, he sticks to his guns ( *ahem* ) and is believable throughout.

    The action does feel more similar to modern FPS, long corridors with lots of enemies – though this is present mostly in the end of the game – the earlier levels feel a lot more Duke. The world is nicely interactive, and there are some cool toys to play with, pinball machines, remote control cars, etc; When I got to the mini puzzle of the remote control car it was a definite “Duke is cool” moment.

    I think my biggest criticism with the game is the level themselves. Though Duke3d wasn’t exactly an open world, Duke Nukem Forever is most definitely a linear game. I didn’t have the same feeling of exploration or secrets I did with Duke3d. I still fondly remember discovering the secret apartments in the first level of Duke3d – now maybe age is kicking in here, but the feeling of exploration never hit me as much with DNF – maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough 🙂 The city levels of the original felt a lot more real to me than the environments within DNF – again maybe I am looking at the past through rose coloured glasses. I’ll try to keep that as the last comprision of the two games 🙂

    Now I am a very average gamer, the single player last about 15 hours for me – I couldn’t help but feel it was to short – the worry of DLC as full game experience is quite high at the moment. MOD/map tools haven’t been released yet and though the multiplayer is fun, currently I can’t see it having a large community for very long.

    I will keep on playing single player however, the achievements are all pretty do-able for my skill level, and an additional game difficulty setting is unlocked on completion. That and the game is actually fun – in a world full of serious FPS games, it is enjoyable to take one which doesn’t take itself to seriously. I remember completing Halo: Reach, and thinking, well, that was depressing. Not so with Duke – though the ending of the game was very abrupt – again adding to the worry of DLC as full game.

    Now onto the multiplayer – I’ve had very bad experiences with the game browser – I either can’t connect to a game, or the game is so laggy I give up after a while. However, the quick match button works fine, and though slightly laggy at times ( which, to be fair, could be my aging gaming rig ) the games are most definitely playable. The offering is nothing special, normal type game modes, with an interesting variation with the flag being a scantily clad woman. This makes defending the base a much more interesting duty 😉 The gameplay is very much more twitchy than the single player – it reminds me a lot of Quake. Can’t really hide behind cover, as someone will just leap over it to finish you off. If you can find a lag free game, you are going to have a great time with it. I’m hoping once dedicated servers catch on that the more laggy games will vanish.

    Multiplayer has slightly more to it than just random fragfests. There is an EXP system, which as you perform certain tasks ( fall a set distance, commit suicide, kill someone with a shot gun etc;) will unlock different avatar customizations, as well as titles and EXP bonuses. Your level determines the amount of unlocked content within your ‘Digs’ – an apartment full of boxes which become things as you gain more levels. It’s a nice touch.

    Now, once again, this has turned into a pretty large wall of text, so I will sum it up now. Duke Nukem Forever is a pretty good game – I’d definitely score it around the 80% mark – it is great fun and very cool. However, without the Duke Nukem IP, it would be decidedly average in nature. There is nothing amazingly ground breaking in it but in my mind it is a very solid ( and most importantly fun ) FPS.


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