Duke Nukem Forever Review (Windows PC)

Posted by Jim Cook, Jun 27, 2011 06:57

Those who were into PC gaming back in the mid to late 1990s know exactly how much hype Duke Nukem Forever built up when it first started development. We were all told the successor to Duke Nukem 3D would be one of the most amazing games ever; if not in those exact words then in the sheer pre-release buzz generated for it. Years passed, and we continued to hear more hype but no release nor much evidence that it was even getting close to release, for that matter. Yet roughly fifteen years later, with multiple project restarts on different engines, Duke Nukem Forever is finally here. Was it worth the wait? If you go in with realistic expectations, it can be. This isn’t the genre-redefining title that we were told it would be all those years ago, but it’s also nowhere near being awful; it’s a generally decent, playable first person shooter that presently costs a little too much compared to its competitors.

Set some time after the final stage of Duke Nukem 3D, players control Duke through your choice of a full single-player campaign or online play though this review is primarily concerned with the former. As a single-player FPS experience, Duke Nukem Forever is unusual in that it blends a little bit of genre classics such as Doom and Duke Nukem 3D alongside a far greater influence by modern shooters such as Halo. While some familiar weapons return, Duke isn’t capable of carrying as many of them as before; where he used to run through hordes of enemies and fire away, he can now only carry two weapons (plus pipe-bombs and laser trip-wire mines) at a time plus a close-combat attack. This reduction in weaponry is joined by having a ’recharging shield’ style health meter in the vein of most modern shooters, requiring Duke to seek cover whenever he takes too many hits. None of this is specifically a bad thing, though it is quite the departure from the series’ norm.

While the majority of the stages involve a cycle of finding weapons, killing basic enemies, exploring, and sometimes confronting a large boss (usually one that requires a rocket launcher or similar explosive weapon to damage), there are some that expressly encourage you to play around. Duke’s world is full of random objects like chalkboards, basketball hoops, remote-control cars, pinball machines, and more... and most of them are fully functional. They not only represent fun little distractions from the usual action, you’re also rewarded for using them since Duke’s health/ego meter will gain a permanent increase. Using these as brief breaks from the action that also reward you for exploring is both a great idea and one of Duke Nukem Forever’s strongest assets.

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Our Rating for Duke Nukem Forever Review (Windows PC)
5.5 Replay
A fairly linear and average experience, most of the replay value comes from experimenting with random items in each stage. To the game’s credit, playing with these items is indeed fun but rather brief.
6.5 Graphics
Clearly outdated graphics clash with impressive detail in the world design, leading to something that is both a bit ugly to look at and interesting to explore.
8.0 Sound
Jon St. John turns in his typically iconic performance as Duke’s voice, backed by great music and weapon sound effects that have plenty of ’power.’
6.5 Gameplay
A merely adequate mix of modern FPS play with limited weapons and regenerating health benefits significantly from how interactive many stages are; there is a lot to see and do, plus you’re well rewarded for it.
6.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
An acceptable set of online play modes are held back by a low player population and few servers. Most of those seem to be of the player-as-host, ’listen’ variety that introduces significant lag. However, it is pretty fun when everything works right and the ’virtual apartment’ is a neat idea.
6.5 Overall
Purely a decent game that is neither fantastic nor awful, FPS fans and those who still like the Duke Nukem character will be well served when the price comes down.

Rating: 1.5, votes: 4

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