Even admiring yourself in front of the mirror, which hearkens back to that classic moment in Duke Nukem 3D, comes across as an unsightly relic: so ancient is the underlying technology powering the game that watching Duke's reflection jumping is like watching him being inexplicably picked up and put down by an invisible claw.
There's also a lacking multiplayer mode, spread across 12 multiplayer maps lifted mostly from the single-player campaign. The maps, which are of interesting construction, are blighted by laggy netcode and the same old deathmatch, king of the hill, and capture the flag modes - though the latter swaps out the flag with a woman who needs to be calmed down with the occasional slap on the bottom. Don't get me started. There's a persistent XP system in place, but there's absolutely nothing here to encourage you back after your first game.
The argument is that its voluminous array of negatives can be excused because the game is just a harmless bit of fun and that it doesn't take itself seriously. It isn't fun. It's miserable. Duke Nukem Forever might not embroil itself with the kind of po-faced sincerity of its shooter brethren, but an irreverent shooter still needs some kind of effective foundations to work from. Since stepping off his throne, the King simply doesn't have the energy or the talent to get back on it.
I will admit that there is some kind of curious interest in watching this train wreck of a game unfold, and that I was compelled to play through all of Duke Nukem Forever's excruciating levels in order to observe the painful descent of the series from an innovative genre-leader to clumsy copycat. If you're also the type who might take an interest in this, you'll be more than able to do so in three months when the game is lining the discount shelves of every store in the country.
The nicest thing Gearbox and 2K Games could have done to Duke Nukem Forever would have been to spend their marketing budget on a cannon powerful enough to fire the source code into the sun. Instead they've decided to make it a full-priced release and have it go toe-to-toe with bigger, better games in our modern times; an action tantamount to forcing Gelsey Kirkland into dancing in a music video alongside Rihanna and Beyonce. All things considered, The Human Centipede was less cruel than this.
As a bizarre curio of video game history, Duke Nukem Forever's appeal cannot be denied, and there is some entertainment derived from overlooking the end product of one of history's most troubled productions. The main thing we can learn looking backwards, however, is that no game should be like this going forward.