Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360PS3

The long awaited follow up to Duke Nukem 3D.

Review Verdict Read Review
4Out of 10
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Duke Nukem Forever screenshot
Duke Nukem Forever screenshot

So, after 14 years in development, Duke Nukem Forever actually happened. I was a virginal, bespotted 11-year-old when the game was originally announced in 1997, desperately eager for a continuation of the off-colour humour and explorative design I adored in Duke Nukem 3D. With the complete product finally in my 24-year-old hands, a celebratory occasion in itself after such a tumultuous development, I can safety say that such anticipation was completely and entirely undeserved.

Duke Nukem Forever should have never been released. It is one of the most lacking, uninspired, and outright inadequate games of our times, unsuccessfully attempting to cover its staid construction with nostalgia afforded by the series' former glories. It would have been utterly disappointing in 1997, let alone 2011.

In spite of the extensive time spent in development, Duke Nukem Forever feels painfully unfinished and shockingly uninspired. Its fatal flaw is that it tries, unsuccessfully, to blend the modern style of shooter with retro sensibilities. So, despite Duke asserting that "power armour is for pussies", you've got recharging health and a two-weapon inventory system mixed with an entire genre's worth of linear paths.

Duke Nukem Forever's protracted development clearly smacks of a foggy, uncertain vision, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the game's basic mechanics. It baffles me that the bulk of Forever's arsenal has been entirely carbon copied from Duke Nukem 3D (14 years and not even a single idea for an inventive new weapon?) but it makes even less sense to use most of these powerful guns in a game that's trying to be a cover-oriented shooter that doesn't really have any cover.

Massive swathes of the game is simply rote corridor blasting, which is particularly damning when considering how eager fans were championing this as some kind of intrinsic and glorious opposite to modern shooter tendencies in the run-up to Duke Nukem Forever's release. The game not only concedes on its heritage in a desperate rush to gobble up every single trope of modern shooter design, it incorporates them in a particularly dreadful manner.

While it certainly isn't a challenging game (on Normal, at least) the game is prone to odd difficulty spikes. Enemies move fast, their clunky frames of animation still looking positively balletic next to our protagonist's wheezing movement, and dish out plenty of damage, occasionally blindsiding you before you have a chance to properly react.

Boss battles also hit a sour note, dropping you into a tiny clump of land and forcing you to do little more than exchange rockets while you hope the flimsy bit of cover you're standing behind manages to endure the duration of the fight.

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User Comments

p0rtalthinker's Avatar


Wow...this was quite..unsettling to say the least. All this hatred's made me question if I really want to buy the game at all.
Posted 19:07 on 13 June 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ munkee

You seem to be taking this just as personally, munkee. For me, in MY opinion, the game with all its Ego, the setting, the style of characterisation, fits in with precisely what was created with Duke 3D. I did not defend those other games, because, quite simple, I didn't enjoy them. I am enjoying DNF very much, which is why we are having this discussion here. Its not about 'drawing cocks' as you so eloquently put - I have never done such a thing, and never will, but the spirit, akin to the genius loci of a site, is the important element.

I hope games will follow Duke's lead, and incorporate the Ego raising mechanics, albeit in a manner atuned to their own stylistic choices. In that sense, it is a big thing.

The DNF gameplay is solid, multiplay is solid, the weapons are bizarre, and fun, and - for ME - the game is well worth the price tag. Of course I'm going to defend it from naysayers who haven't tried it but feel justified in slagging it and/or the developers off.
Posted 18:54 on 13 June 2011
atheistium's Avatar


Finished Duke this morning and can't help but echo Martin's statements.

The glory hole was a particularly low point in the game for me. It might be because I'm female but there were a few moments in DNF that I thought crossed the line in terms of sexism. Glad they got rid of the "Bitch n' Clean" bottles that were in the preview builds.
Posted 18:34 on 13 June 2011
crowx's Avatar


I dont think I can remember the last time I even CONSIDERED marking anything with a willy - I dont think I even made one with the Spore character creator, and not a lot of people can say that!

Most of what you've said judges it from an assumption that it's a diabolical piece of software. Which obviously isn't something everyone who has played the game agrees with. For it to be an ethical issue it has to be about more than your own dislike of a title.

I've had a shed load more fun playing it than I did the latest ADHD COD Black-ops DLC. Theres a repetitive, un-innovative cash-in, right there.

Someone else above (or maybe in the DNF Chart thread) said they traded in LA Noir for DNF and are pleased they did.

So yeah. No problems with paying full price for it. I think it's great.
Posted 18:26 on 13 June 2011
munkee's Avatar

munkee@ Clockpunk

Firstly, I personally haven't said that it shouldn't have been made. I just said that it hasn't been made very well.

The reason that I am so against this game has nothing to do with it being silly, rude, or childish. If thats what makes you laugh, great! I'm pissed off that developers think they can strap an established brand name to a diabolical piece of software and expect the consumer to pay £40 for it. This game has been backed by a huge marketing campaign [as I mentioned in a previous thread] which is luring consumers into a purchase. We, as avid videogame fans, are educated enough to make our own decisions based on developers, publishers, previous entries, gameplay videos and trusted reviewers. Joe average isn't so in-tune to this amount of information. If the TV, Magazines and videogame stores are selling Duke Nukem as the next big thing [which they are] then there is an ethical issue here. I work in a VERY busy corporate videogame store and I have seen first-hand how this game has been treated. So, I think its good that people on the internet, and people with blogging power, have the bollocks to stand up and tell it like it is.

I think that you are taking this a little too personally because you are a fan of the Duke. Did you defend Rogue Warrior, or Quantum Theory so strongly when they got critically slammed? Perhaps if you could have drawn a cock on the pavement, then you would have enjoyed it.

Just a bit of perspective:
Serious Sam - £24.99
Minecraft - £free
Zelda Ocarina of Time 3DS - £29.99
A Rockstar, or Valve game gets released at £39.99. Are you genuinely telling me that DNF is at that standard and worth the same amount of money?
Posted 17:17 on 13 June 2011
draytone's Avatar


It seems to me that the whole point of reviews is being called into question here. Reviews are opinion pieces that let gamers decide if they want to splash £35 on a game, this in my opinion carries quite a lot of responsibility.

I guess that what reviewers have to do is look at the game, after playing it, and decide wether or not they would have felt disappointed with their choice of purchase.
Posted 17:16 on 13 June 2011
Bloodstorm's Avatar


Actually play it for yourself, it's not as bad as reviewers are making it out to be.

I wish they'd make a new Shadow Warrior, the world needs some Wang.
Posted 17:06 on 13 June 2011
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar


Definitely did not see this one coming! But if people are playing it and enjoying it then that's all that matters.
Posted 17:05 on 13 June 2011
crowx's Avatar


100% agree with Clockpunk there. The reviews have been SO disparaging it makes no sense.

It's clearly not going to win any innovation awards, but I've been having a huge amount of fun with it. The very first thing I did in the game was draw a huge **** on the whiteboard and pee myself laughing when the marine said "Gosh, great plan Duke!". Thats the spirit of Duke Nukem. In no other game would that seem appropriate!

Feels like most people who reviewed the game would have been more likely to use the whiteboard in that scene to draw out a score table for their review and then wander round the room taking texture samples before filling in the scores , mostly with 1's and 0's out of 10 for not being photographic / realistic enough. Sorry. But you're all missing the point!

By and large from reading comments on the bottom of a number of reviews, people seem to fall in to 4 categories on this one.

#1 Reviewers. Who all hated it.
#2 People who played the demo and thought it was boring.
#3 People who havent payed it at all but are happy to say "Yeah thought so" after reading the review, and weigh in with an argument about it being crap based on zero experience.
#4 People who actually bought it and played it and the majority of whom really enjoyed it.

Obviously there are exceptions. Especially the XBox version obviously had some graphics and loading issues. But by and large thats what it looks like to me.
Posted 17:05 on 13 June 2011
SexyJams's Avatar


I never would have expected such a poor score for this game. PCGamer are giving it like 8's? (the various counties of PCGamer)
Maybe I won't bother after all.
Posted 17:03 on 13 June 2011
draytone's Avatar


It's hard to call it 'selfishness' it was Martins opinion and it differs from yours. It was also quite witty and made me laugh, which as a strapline did it's job. Would you rather he choose a strapline that sat on the fence even though he didn't agree with it?
Posted 17:01 on 13 June 2011
SteakPieHarry's Avatar


This review mirrors Dan Whitehead's thoughts entirely.That's good enough for me. Avoiding like the plague.
Posted 16:58 on 13 June 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ munkee

But many are, munkee. Why shouldn't OTT 'silyy' games that cater to my tastes, such as DNF and Serious Sam, see release? Why are they more likely to be picked apart than 'Terrorist Attack Clone Force Alpha 372, Part 7 Chapter 14 - Multilicious Desert Combat (With Obligatory Snow Scene)'? I want to see games like Duke, Shadow Warrior, Blood, Redneck Rampage, Hexen, Heretic, and the likes. I will support games that try and possess this same spirit that inhabited these older OTT releases, just for sheer bloody-minded, action-packed fun, rather than just the crawl-snipe-run-slowly-slowly games that are at the foregront of these past couple of console generations.

I do not go around claiming 'Oh, they should never release this crap, no one in their right mind will like it. We should encourage all devs to step away from making such games'.

I want it noted that I know Martin, whose argued opinions I respect, is not making this point. But it appears to be the general consensus of many 'reviewers', both for publication and amateur comments, many of whom haven't even tried the full game.

Going by the strapline for this review, though, it adheres to one of of my prinicpal complaints in other threads, some of which are scattered throughout the vg.com forums. Many reviewers express their desire that the game was just cancelled, which would thus have deprived those of us who ARE getting dozens of hours of enjoyment. And THAT is the selfishness that makes my blood boil.
Posted 16:44 on 13 June 2011
draytone's Avatar


Hells, I remember having to phone between a group of strangers, to see who had the best connection to host Duke 3D multiplayer matches, back in the day, for the least amount of lag. At the risk of sounding like an old sod, the only rewards from multiplayer was the experience itself. Given your comments regading little incentive to continue, we shouldn't need anything OTHER than fun-factor, surely, otherwise it could be defined as a chore, no...?

This was relevant during the days of Duke 3D and when MP was something entirely different, nowadays MP is so crucial to the success of a game that just having it doesn't necessarily make it worthwhile.
Posted 16:41 on 13 June 2011
munkee's Avatar

munkee@ Clockpunk

Not everybody is finding it 'fun' though. I think this is the problem.
Posted 16:37 on 13 June 2011

Game Stats

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Duke Nukem Forever
Out of 10
Duke Nukem Forever
  • It finally came out
  • Poor script
  • Boring levels
  • Inexcusable loading screens
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 10/06/2011
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 3,473 30
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