Duke Nukem Forever Review

Platform: PS3/360/PC
Originally Reviewed: 2011

Duke Nukem Forever is a game that’s taken 12 years to complete and it’s evident from playing it that Gearbox, having taken over development from 3D Realms, have succeeded in making the game that was always intended. The game that was intended to come out 12 years ago, that is. DNF is not a game that sits happily in the current generation. It’s old and it stinks.

The game desperately tries to hark back to the classic Duke Nukem 3D of 1996 that many current gamers enjoyed as somewhat of a taboo back in their youth, but someone should have told the various developers along the way that they didn’t have to make DNF so similar.

Duke still spews the same catchphrases as he did 15 years ago and the humour is still the same childish potty humour (the very first thing you do in the game is ‘Press RT to piss’) and girls with their tits out. In ’96 it was obnoxiously in your face and didn’t care what anyone thought. In 2011 where we’ve seen many games with much more truly adult – as opposed to boorishly adolescent – themes, it comes off more as pathetic and desperate for attention.

It seems that 12 years and several developers does not a pretty game make. This game is damned ugly. Fugly, even. The character models are appalling, with jagged blurry edges and jerky animation, the backdrops are drab and colourless, the lighting and shadows almost non-existent, the textures are pixelated and disgusting, and there are even sections with horrendous pop-up. It’s no exaggeration to state that DNF barely looks better than a PS2 game.

It can often be said that a great game can shine even with poor graphics, but DNF is not one of these stories. The game suffers because it desperately tries to copy everything about DN3D. The settings are the same (hell, the start of the game is just the stadium fight from the original), the weapons are all the same, the enemies are the same and unfortunately the gameplay is too. That’s right, Duke Nukem Forever has failed to improve even slightly on the gameplay of a 1996 title.

The shooting is fiddly at the best of times, despite the weapons still packing a hefty punch, but the action is not helped by a real lack of imagination. It quickly becomes evident that most gunfights aren’t the fast-paced spectacular action set pieces we’re used to today, but instead are simply several waves of enemies in a small enclosed area. For example, Duke will be trapped on the roof of a building and after a wave of enemies is killed, an alien drop ship will fly in some more…and then again…and again for another round of strafing and shooting.

The pacing, too, is terrible and completely all over the place. One minute you’ll be shooting Pigcops in a casino, the next you’ll be lazily walking round a strip club looking for a dildo. After more shooting Pigcops again, you’ll then be slowly jumping on some shelves in a burger restaurant. These jumping sections are totally unnecessary, incredibly frustrating and completely boring.

If you die (which, due to the poor mechanics is incredibly easy to do) during one of these tedious and enemy free jumping sections, then you’ll also have to sit through almost an entire minute of loading. The loading screens are an utter disgrace and sometimes feel like an eternity when they are simply breaking up the EXACT same section of scenery.

It’s difficult to name anything that actually makes Duke Nukem Forever a worthwhile purchase because, frankly, it’s far from it. The fact that the game mimics the original so much does provide a nice nostalgic trip down memory lane, and no one can argue that the game doesn’t stay true to its roots and provide plenty of fan service. But this could easily be achieved by downloading the original for 400 MS points.

Duke’s badass lines do occasionally give rise to the odd chuckle and when the game actually tries to add more subtle pop culture references to the likes of Inception, Halo and the infamous Christian Bale Terminator rant, they can be reasonably funny. The combat is pretty lacklustre, but the weapons are still cool and shrinking enemies and stepping on them can raise the odd smile.

Duke Nukem Forever is like the class clown at a high school reunion who still hasn’t grown up. Self-referential nods to previous games in a successful series are all well and good, but looking and playing like a 15 year old game is nothing to be proud of. My initial feeling of nostalgia has been kicked in the balls and, unlike Duke Nukem, mine aren’t made of steel. It hurts.

Alex Aldridge 


Heinous. In places, some textures are no better than the original ’96 game. Character models are blurry, backgrounds are drab and there’s a tonne of pop up and poor lighting. The Wii has better looking games.



The guns still pack a punch and if you really love the original then this game plays exactly the same. Just with longer loading times and more sections spent doing NOTHING.



Aliens attack earth again. Duke Nukem shoots them again. NPCs (especially the females ones) spout some of the most despicably unfunny bullshit ever heard in a game.



The game has achievements, you could try and get all those. Completion opens up, wait for it, a harder difficulty level!



£10 is probably still too much when the original and better title is available for next to nothing on XBLA/PSN. Nothing about the game makes it essential.



Good things come to those who wait. Unless you waited for this piece of childish, ugly, boring garbage. Despite being the oldest game to be released in this generation, Duke Nukem Forever seriously needs to grow up.






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