There's also an odd and displeasing reliance on tedious jumping puzzles, which is made all the worse by the game's painful and unforgivable loading screens - each demise forces you to wait up to a minute before you can return to the action. It's dire.
Health is represented by the Ego meter, and is buffed up by performing various Duke-like actions within the game. Check out a jazz mag, lift some weights or knock off a boss, for instance, and your Ego meter will be permanently boosted. It's a nice touch, and using Duke's own inflated sense of self as a literal shield in the world is perhaps the sharpest and most intelligent gag in the entire game.
What Duke Nukem Forever lacks in quality it certainly makes up for in length. A 23 level campaign promises between 10-12 hours of gameplay, but very little of it exhibits the same kind of creative energy that made Duke Nukem 3D such a definitive and iconic game back in 1996. An indulgent and plodding introduction makes way for various monotonous locations, ending with a final and unsatisfying confrontation at the Hoover Dam.
Along the way you'll fritter your time away in places such as the Duke Cave and Duke Burger, the latter shrinking you down to micro size and having you navigate through the kitchen - one of the game's more creative and engaging sequences. Also of note is a mid-game interlude set in Duke Nukem's Titty City, which allows you a respite from shooting so you can stick our hero's virtual willy through a glory hole and then look for a condom so you can have sex with a stripper.
While they do exist, positive moments are rare and fleeting, and the overall package feels old, uninspired, and weary. Duke Nukem Forever feels like a product older than even its ridiculous development time, and the game works to its detriment to offset each tired set-piece and clunky corridor with another line of excruciating dialogue.
Duke Nukem is resolute and steadfast in its desire to be seen as risqué, yet its humour is virtually non-existent and the delivery is so desperate the game pains the player every time another flat line is delivered. Whereas Duke Nukem 3D was a fairly successful parody of the then-waning Stallone/Schwarzenegger action hero, Forever simply does its utmost to force you into a ceaseless parade of blunt profanity and dull toilet humour. One of the game's notable features (2K Games even went as far as to produce a trailer for it) is that Duke can pick up a bit of poo from the odd toilet and throw it about, and that's honestly about as funny as the game gets.
Duke Nukem Forever is also a startlingly hideous game. Geometry is lumpy and uninspired, models are generic and blocky, and the desaturated textures - once they've actually bothered to load - are coarse and bland. Then there's the framerate, which actually manages to slow to a noticeable crawl with frightening regularity.