Having received the review game - on Xbox 360 - on the day of release, and with Gearbox's Duke Nukem Forever sitting at Number 1 in the UK video game charts a question comes to mind: What is the point?
I don't mean what is the point of writing the review, the point of that is to ensure that our readers are well informed. I mean, what is the point of playing video games if what we're going to get doled out to us is this: a marketing campaign driven by tedious in-jokes, misplaced nostalgia and an apparent disregard for elegance, efficiency and organisation in programming an Xbox 360.
Here are two admissions:
First, I never bothered with the first Duke Nukems
. I'd loved Wolfenstein
and then the Dooms
when I was reviewing games on PC magazines and I was largely over FPSs even then. It's the little hands sticking out. They make me want to create shadow puppets or maybe whip up a decent omelette. That said, I was looking forward to and then playing Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss
for my kicks. This means that I'm not weighed down with love or a yearning for a youthful age that really never existed.
Secondly, I've not finished Duke Nukem Forever
. Yes, I'm reviewing a game that I've not finished. There is one very good reason for this. In my opinion, with the Xbox 360 version you have either got to be unemployed and on barbiturates or you've got to be so utterly and completely in-tune with the game that you are forgiving of its many, many faults, in the same way you would be of an idiot child no matter how many times it accidently found itself in gaol for setting fire to its own school while it was in it.
So, I don?t intend to make you sit through this review in the same way as I don?t expect me have to sit through the game. Therefore, here?s the skinny. I?m going to give it 25% out of 100%.
The reason I?m not giving it 0% is:
10% as a penalty for myself for breaking down and almost sobbing at the thought of having to play more than 10 hours of this dross. Yes, that?s 10% for my own cowardice.
10% for the fact that Gearbox managed to get audio and visuals onto one disc and get the game out of the door. Yes, that?s 10% for doing the basic job.
5% for resale value. If you?re given this game by a well-intentioned pal who hasn?t read this review, you should be able to trade it in for a copy of Traffic Manager
from Excalibur Publishing.
Humour Ha Ha Lol
It appears to me that when talking about Duke Nukem
you have to take the route of ?The humour was of its time. Sure it was adolescent, misogynist, puerile and weaker than a late period Carry On
movie, but if it doesn?t make you smile then you?ve got a stick up your ass.?
I?ve heard this in terms of Duke and Leisure Suit Larry
(I was forced to review the fifth of those on the Amiga if I remember correctly) back ?in the day?. It?s nonsense. It?s the kind of reasoning that was given about Andrew Dice Clay before everybody realised that yelling ?Fucking motherfucker fuck? was something that filled the gap made by a lack of humour rather than being humour itself.
I recently reviewed inFamous 2
, in which there?s a scene featuring two of the main characters: Zeke and Cole sitting on a couch, drinking beer and waiting for Cole to power-up. That scene was an in-joke, it was funny, it ended with a little slapstick; it didn?t coerce the player into feeling as if they should laugh or they?d be called a humourless pussy with a stick up their ass. inFamous 2
is a new game. It?s a good game. It doesn?t rely on nostalgia or the word ?Motherfucker? or the trope of the triumph of the stupid.
Apologies All Round
I admit that it?s on the PS3 and I?m reviewing the Xbox 360 version of DNF
. I apologise for that. It appears, in fact, that DNF
is making me apologise for a lot of things; mostly for the industry really.
Because if 2K Games, which brought us BioShock
remember, feels that this game is worth the marketing spend, the development time and potential to turn gamers against it then someone needs to apologise for it.
Loads of Money
is almost unplayable. The response time from pressing triggers or buttons to actual action is execrably slow. The targeting system is sporadic. Movement is strangely akin to being aboard a boat skippered by a newborn foal. There was actually a moment where, while crouching, I saw my on-screen little pair of hands sliding to the right as if the entire screen was held on a massive swell.
The only thing that is truly laughable about this game is the gameplay, in fact. Laughable in the same way as the realisation that after a show trial in the former eastern bloc you are going to be executed for making a joke about the great leader to your own mother who then shopped you to the head of the local Stasi office.
As for the structure and the load times... as for those? the structure is that you stand around waggling your little hands listening to some interminable cutscene that basically says, ?Go there, see babes, blow shit up, kill some motherfucking motherfuckers? fuck.? Then there?s a loading screen. Then you go and get killed because your weapon response and targeting are all over the place. Then there?s a load screen. Then you ?Go there, see babes, blow shit up, kill some motherfucking motherfuckers? fuck,? and you don?t get killed.
Then there?s a load screen.
Then there?s some more tedious cutscenery.
Then you get killed.
Then there?s a load screen.
Then you realise that you?ve been playing for two hours and you?re two scenes in and the majority of your time was spent waiting for the game to load.
Then there?s a load screen.
It?s all so incredibly depressingly dull.
Then there?s another load screen.
All of this is displayed in the kind of graphic detail that makes you wonder if Gearbox forgot to buy the anti-aliasing module? and the texture mapping module.
The game looks dreadful. So dreadful that you might expect after a few hours for the real joke to be revealed, and I hope it is. I hope that if you are given this, and you do lose your job and you do buy a vast amount of tramadol, that you make it to the part that must surely be there where it is revealed that the first ten hours were tutorial.
I hope that a point is reached at which the real skill of Gearbox (Borderlands
) is exposed to those loyal enough and courageous enough to have made it there. I hope that DNF
suddenly explodes into a well made, well thought out, brilliantly imagined, cleverly mechanised video game instead of the cynical mess it seems to be right now.
Now, I feel I've got to go and buy a PC version and PS3 version. I'll get back to you on those.
Take the Xbox 360 version back Gearbox. Do it again. It stinks
SPOnG Score: 25%