Reviews// Duke Nukem Forever

Posted 15 Jun 2011 14:48 by
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.

Resale Value
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 Nukemyou 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
DNF 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.

Graphic Violence
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.

Conclusion
Take the Xbox 360 version back Gearbox. Do it again. It stinks

SPOnG Score: 25%

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Comments

config 15 Jun 2011 16:19
1/13
A truly outstanding review. The loathing for this game is almost tangible in the photons oozing from each pixel in my screen.

I played DNF for about 15 minutes. The gameplay ... I can summarize as this;

1. Enter a new room. Door closes behind.
2. Waves of melee hogs appear (from nowhere, it seemed). Kill them.
3. Waves of armoured hogs with guns appear. Kill them.
4. Waves of flying hogs with lasers appear. Kill them.
5. Exit door glows. Run to it.
6. Batter the A button to "lift" the door for no good reason other than some other game did it before (and it wasn't clever then)
7. Go to #1

I left out the numerous loading screens after each (inevitable, given the laggy controls and poor frame rate) death.

That was all I could stand. I swore and left the game.

I don't expect Spong will be getting any more future review code from Take Two
Andrew 'forgotten password' M. 15 Jun 2011 21:47
2/13
Someone I work with told me about this review and offered no spoilers. I heard bad things about DNF ('Did Not Finish' in horse racing terms, BTW - how apt) and saw a little bit for meself when I visited SPOnG's underwater castle yesterday, but serious props to Tim for this. The 'Resale Value' para made me really lol. It's good to lol.
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cr0wn3r 16 Jun 2011 07:38
3/13
Not everyone agrees with you. I loved it, as did many others. That "run in to room, door closes, kill baddy, door opens" could aptly describe most fps's these days, not least the virtually on-rails COD crap which gives most games journalists wet dreams these days.

I'm not saying Duke is anywhere near as good as COD, obviously, and I'm not saying it doesn't have it's faults, but I fail to understand the review-hate it's getting.

Admittedly I'm playing (actually, re-playing, I had such a blast the first time) on a PC and it does sound like the console releases had a lot more technical issues.

But still. The games fun. A welcome break from the "realistic" shooters of the day.

Re the toilet humor, what I don't understand is how it has such a negative effect on reviewers. I mean, there was absolutely no way Duke wasn't going to be full of it. And I don't see how it can be any more intelligent without just removing it. And then it wouldn't be Duke. What were you expecting? Tea with Mary Whitehouse? (And if you have to look her up then case in point that you're not old enough to be reviewing this game.)
Cfan 16 Jun 2011 07:50
4/13
Get someone who's played Duke3D to review the PS3/PC version. Not hating on this review or saying it's invalid as I respect a review without the rose coloured glasses.

If they wanted to recreate games of yore, then they should of dumped the health regen and two gun limit (wtf) two reasons I won't be picking this up.
miacid 16 Jun 2011 08:07
5/13
What were you expecting? Tea with Mary Whitehouse? (And if you have to look her up then case in point that you're not old enough to be reviewing this game.)


@cr0wn3r You don't want to be arguing age with Tim, I think he'll win ...... or lose depending on how you look at it!
Tim Smith 16 Jun 2011 10:35
6/13
miacid wrote:
What were you expecting? Tea with Mary Whitehouse? (And if you have to look her up then case in point that you're not old enough to be reviewing this game.)


@cr0wn3r You don't want to be arguing age with Tim, I think he'll win ...... or lose depending on how you look at it!


Erm... thanks?

:-)

Cheers

Tim
Tim Smith 16 Jun 2011 10:38
7/13
Cfan wrote:
Get someone who's played Duke3D to review the PS3/PC version. Not hating on this review or saying it's invalid as I respect a review without the rose coloured glasses.


Cheers Cfan. My point in reviewing the title with no thought to the previous titles is that it's been reviewed as a new title to new gamers. The whole "nostalgia-sell" marketing seemed cynical at best. Frankly, I can't see why they didn't knock it out as an HD PSN and XBLA title.

That said, for fans of the old Duke, I'd be pleased to have some old school fan review the PC/PS3 or even re-review the 360 title. Any takers?

Cheers

Tim
Tim Smith 16 Jun 2011 10:43
8/13
cr0wn3r wrote:
Not everyone agrees with you. I loved it, as did many others. That "run in to room, door closes, kill baddy, door opens" could aptly describe most fps's these days, not least the virtually on-rails COD crap which gives most games journalists wet dreams these days.


Hi cr0wn3r,

True on many points, particularly that people won't always agree with my reviews. Also, I agree with the on-rails crap statement.

cr0wn3r wrote:
Admittedly I'm playing (actually, re-playing, I had such a blast the first time) on a PC and it does sound like the console releases had a lot more technical issues.


Yup, I was just reviewing the 360 version as that's the one that 2K sent me for review.

cr0wn3r wrote:
Re the toilet humor, what I don't understand is how it has such a negative effect on reviewers. I mean, there was absolutely no way Duke wasn't going to be full of it. ...(And if you have to look her up then case in point that you're not old enough to be reviewing this game.)


As I think I made plain, it's tedious, laboured toilet humour a la late period Carry Ons (see, I am old enough). If it was quality toilet humour then I've not got a problem with it.

Anyway, thanks for commenting and, as I say, I'm with you all the way on On-Rails Crap FPSs.

Cheers

Tim
Cfan 16 Jun 2011 10:59
9/13
@Tim, glad you didn't take that comment the wrong way. I'd love to review it for you but I'm not picking it up till bargin bin prices hit (which shouldn't be too long, seeing as it's #1 at the moment in the charts, give it a month or two and Game will be flooded with them)

Has Config played the old Duke?
Tim Smith 16 Jun 2011 11:20
10/13
Cfan wrote:
@Tim, glad you didn't take that comment the wrong way. I'd love to review it for you but I'm not picking it up till bargin bin prices hit


Of course I didn't. Good to have you commenting.

I may also have to keep you to your reviewing word :)

Cheers

Tim
Tim Smith 16 Jun 2011 12:16
11/13
Cfan wrote:
I'd love to review it for you...


Well, just been off the email with 2K and they're sending over PS3 and PC versions tonight. You still up for it?

Cheers

Tim
Cfan 16 Jun 2011 12:38
12/13
Yes, Yes I am. (only if you don't quote my spelling mistakes *bargain)

Cept my console of choice is 360...sorry Tim :(
Cfan 22 Jun 2011 13:54
13/13
Demo impressions.

It's really good to have the Duke back, but it doesn't make up for what seems half a Duke game. kept wishing while playing for the old style of FPS (health packs, secret areas, walking ammo dump...)
Even the interactivity seemed off, I could throw a turd but not punch the lights out of a sarky EDF soldier?

And please keep driving sections out of FPS that didn't have it to start with.
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