Announced in 1997 by 3D Realms, Duke Nukem Forever was finally released in 2011. When Gearbox Software acquired the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise, Gearbox Software helped finish the game, but now that it’s out, was it worth the 14 year wait?
Duke Nukem Forever’s development started all the way back in 1997, and now that the game is out, it feels like it should have been released in the 90’s because Duke Nukem Forever still uses shooter mechanics from 1997, thus making the game outdated by today’s standards. Duke Nukem Forever makes fun of today’s shooters, but still uses the standards set by modern games. Early in the game, players encounter a soldier that offers Duke Power Armor, and Duke explicitly replies “Power Armor is for p***ies, which would be okay, but instead Duke Nukem Forever’s uses a game mechanic that resembles armor. In Duke Nukem, Duke has an “Ego” bar. The “Ego” bar acts as a shield for Duke, and when the bar runs low, Duke has to rely on health. DNF suffers from an identity crisis. The game seems like it doesn’t want to let go of Duke Nukem’s glory days by making fun of today’s shooters, but DNF also turns around and uses the very mechanics it makes fun of.
The level design in DNF suffers the same problem as the gameplay, it is outdated. The level design is very simple; kill enemies, solve a simple puzzle, move on to next room, rinse and repeat. Even though many of the levels designs in DNF are outdated, I have to applaud the team at 3D Realms to keep the game fresh. DNF will change things up for the players every one and a while, instead of relying on the same mechanic for the whole game. Early on in DNF, the Duke gets shrunken down, and has to drive around in a RC car. Later Duke drives around in his Monster Truck, running over aliens. These driving sections of the game help keep the regular portions of DNF seem a bit less repetitive that they already are.
One thing that really bothered me in DNF were the loading screens. After every part or chapter in DNF, the game would have to load. Normally this wouldn’t bother me at all, but when you’re sitting there for 10-15 seconds staring at a loading screen, it starts to get annoying, and when they happen often, it really takes you out of the experience.
When players are done with the single player, they can tackle on DNF’s multiplayer component. The multiplayer includes 3 game modes; Team Deathmatch, Deatchmatch and Capture the Babe. Capture the Babe is basically the like Capture the Flag, but instead of a flag, it’s a women, which again is another sign of the game’s age. A game mode like that has no place in todays world. Games are still being played and the multiplayer is a fun distraction, but it won’t hold you for long.
Overall I’m not exactly sure what to think of this game. I had fun playing the game. The shooting is smooth, and I only saw one drop in framerate during my entire playthrough. On the other hand, while there is some variety in missions, the level design sometimes feels uninspired and repetitive. For anyone that has pre-ordered the game when it was announced in 1997, buying Duke Nukem Forever was all but guaranteed, but for this generation of gamers, 60 dollars is just too much for this game. The only way I can recommend buying this game is if you can find Duke Nukem Forever for super cheap, and if you’re looking for a diversion while waiting for the big games coming out this fall.