Duke Nukem Forever
Duke of Hurl
I pre-ordered this on the idea that I loved Duke Nukem the last time around (you know, 14 years ago) and I also loved Gearbox Software's Borderlands. When the reviews came out, and they were, you know, pretty terrible, I was worried. Now that I finally got around to it, I must say the review are justified and I'm feeling the buyers remorse.
If this is what 14 years of development looks like, I'm sorry, but it should have stayed there. Aside from the juvenile humor and sad attempts to sex things up, this screams "generic shooter" at every turn. Everything is pedestrian, from weapons to level design. Only the portions where Duke is shrunk and the Monster Truck level save this from being dull as dishwater. Duke's quips get really old, really fast and the humor was more grating than anything else.
If the designers were going for a retro look - congratulations! Because for this generation of games, things look decidedly underwhelming: dull, uninspiring and just not up to snuff in today's market. Be it character or level design, it just doesn't impress. The enemies blur together: pigcops, bigger pigcops, berserk pigcops and teleporting armored enemies. Sure you have the floating brains and occasional big, floating guy - but overall, there's not much to differentiate one generic monster from another. Even the bosses are pretty lame.
The only thing saving this from being a disaster are the Monster Truck level - which, when you're actually in the truck is quite fun and the incredible shrinking Duke - a pint-sized hero who must shoot rats and navigate like a platformer instead of a shooter. You could say the underwater level is different too, but I hated them because navigating was a nightmare. There are few times you control turrets as well, but it's just a slightly bigger gun.
Likewise, the weapons, while varied, don't offer enough of an incentive to play. You could probably finish the entire game (sans boss fights) using just the pistol. I preferred the shotgun myself - secondary weapon whatever was available. You have RPGs, a railgun - the sniper rifle for the game, shrink ray and freeze ray - but the novelty wears off after just a short time. Plus, hit detection is atrocious - even with the shotgun at close range I was missing for no apparent reason.
If boring level and enemy design wasn't enough, Duke Nukem Forever suffers the bane of horrendous loading times. Starting a level? Load. Continuing to part 2 or 3 of a level? Load. Die and restart a level? Load. And don't expect anything quick - it takes nearly a minute to get up and running. When you die, and you will die, it's really annoying. I will, however, say some of the "hints" it gives during the loading screen are tongue-in-cheek - but like everything else in the game, they quickly wear thin.
I was hoping for a game that continued the Duke legacy; instead I got a generic shooter that just so happens to carry the Duke name. The only people this should apply to are hard-core Duke fans and bored teens who may be able to appreciate the crude attempts and humor... and the boobies. Otherwise, avoid at all costs.