Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

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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Highest Rated Comment

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

User Comments

ganzi321's Avatar


what a usless game!
Posted 23:00 on 16 June 2011
Bloodstorm's Avatar


It's looking pretty good for an unreal engine game......
Posted 14:08 on 16 June 2011
oksftw's Avatar


its UT99 engine what do you expect lol
Posted 10:57 on 16 June 2011
BcR-Paul's Avatar


4/10 is probably the fairest score for this game I've seen so far
Posted 14:50 on 14 June 2011
draytone's Avatar


I was gonna say, me and you are the same here, we're titans from another era, when games didn't take themselves seriously and when they were created by people who actually enjoy making games for the people.

Now, as you said, it just caters to the "ZOMG! ULTRA REALISTIC!!" crowd and thus, the shooters we like are pretty extinct.

Isn't that a really easy way of defending the obvious flaws of DNF? Not all shooters are ultra realistic. Bioshock is an example of a FPS that is different but is still an excellent game. I'm pretty sure the guys who sit in studios, working 14 hour days, still try to makes games for the people.
Posted 11:29 on 14 June 2011
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ Clockpunk

You said that on something before, under this cold, evil exterior you'll find i'm quite the gentleman.

Me and my brother were wondering that too Clock, makes me wonder if we'll ever see him again.
Posted 01:26 on 14 June 2011
mark8264's Avatar


It wasn't a bad game, I wouldn't give it an 8, but a 4 is too harsh. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and this is coming from someone that has never played the earlier Duke Nukem's. The gameplay is good enough, graphics are decent, I didn't have any issues with load times on the PC version (5 seconds on my 600$ laptop, but it might be different on consoles), the humor was pretty good; it made me laugh a couple of times (and facepalm a couple of other times). It'd be better value for money at 30-40$ and I'd advice people to wait until the game is in the bargain bin to purchase it, but I had fun playing it
Posted 00:15 on 14 June 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ Bloodstorm

@Bloodstorm - I think this may well be the first time we agree! ;)

I wonder what has happened to the rights for Shadow Warrior... if there's one thing this release has created, it is a desire amongst a certain section of gamers for a new title in that series. I wonder if Gearbox got that as well from 3D Realms...
Posted 23:40 on 13 June 2011
p0rtalthinker's Avatar

p0rtalthinker@ crowx

It's not just all the bad reviews and wide differences of opinions the games getting; if anything that's a semi good sign there are still lots of people that love the series! It's mostly just that I feel like like its not my type of game I like to play. It's crude and certified old school. I've never played a duke nukem game before though so I dunno perhaps if I came in with no expectations (I know lots of the people reviewing the game are big fans of the series and have literally waited for this game for over a decade at least) then perhaps I would enjoy it quit e bit, not sure.

Reviews partially dictate which games I play right away, or wait for it to hit the bargain bin (or maybe perhaps not even get at all), but its also my personal preference of which types of games I like and don't.
Posted 21:33 on 13 June 2011


Surely, though, when "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." there IS an issue?

Would the game not be better with better graphics? I'm not talking about realistic graphics here, but just better frame-rates, better textures etc?

So if we take this to extremes, would you expect a game with 8-bit graphics and movement to get a high score or be as enjoyable for £39.99? Surely the notion and attitude and even the feel of the game can sit side by side with a better physics system or better graphics. Serious Sam seems to have managed it to some extent.

I have just the same pedigree of gaming heritage, growing up with early home PCs all the way from the 2D Duke Nukem and Commander Keen to games like Descent, Rise of the Triads and Quake, so I understand the love for the era and style of game. I just think that you can keep the same style and still use the current hardware to improve the engine so that it runs smoothly and the AI is balanced etc.

All speculation based on a game I haven't played, but just playing devil's advocate. I will be renting this, though, to see for myself.
Posted 21:30 on 13 June 2011
munkee's Avatar


@Clockpunk & Bloodstorm

I would rather take an id shooter over a COD game any day. Doom on the college computers, HalfLife on a voodoo GFX card [in a work laptop], Quake and Unreal Tournament LAN parties, Sitting in a bush for 40 minutes waiting for somebody to come over the hill in Ghost Recon, Counter Strike over the internet, Monolith's reign over FPS, FEAR & Far Cry at max spec and a Battlefield addiction.. FPS was always a nerdy past time. Nerds hunched over PC's in dark rooms.

Now the FPS run's solidly on a games console. The casual and console gamers have caught the bug that millions of PC gamers once had. To them a Call of Duty game, or maybe Medal of Honor, is the birth of a fascinating genre and a beautiful relationship. We may not see the fascination in the realism of modern warfare, but these guys are a very privileged bunch.
Posted 21:05 on 13 June 2011
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ Clockpunk

I was gonna say, me and you are the same here, we're titans from another era, when games didn't take themselves seriously and when they were created by people who actually enjoy making games for the people.

Now, as you said, it just caters to the "ZOMG! ULTRA REALISTIC!!" crowd and thus, the shooters we like are pretty extinct.
Posted 20:48 on 13 June 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ pblive

I'm not sure where I saw it, pb, but someone described the game as 'Half-Life 2 with a Balls-to-the-Wall' Attitude'. I'd say there is more than a pinch of that game in the engine, but I'd say that the setting (starting in the Lady Killer casino, through to Duke Burger and the Club) all play a part in showing off the lifestyle of the character.

The nostalgic touch of the weapons, such as the freezegun and shrinker certainly add to the experience. But it is the over the top B-movie style that really appeals. I'm not a big fan of FPS games now, but was before and during the Quake and Unreal 1 days. I lost interest when they started trying to become 'realistic'. DNF doesn't care about this, and I like it for that.
Posted 20:38 on 13 June 2011


@Clockpunk - Interesting you say gameplay is solid. Would you agree with any of Martin's points about graphics/physics etc at all? Is it a case of liking it 'despite' these things?

I'm interested because, while opinion can be divided on entertainment factor, it's rare that the physical elements of a game can be so hotly debated.
Posted 20:08 on 13 June 2011
crowx's Avatar

crowx@ p0rtalthinker

If strongly worded differences of opinion are all it takes to scare you off then I suggest you avoid video games in general!
Posted 19:14 on 13 June 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Duke Nukem Forever
Out of 10
Duke Nukem Forever
  • It finally came out
  • Poor script
  • Inexcusable loading screens
  • Boring levels
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 10/06/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 1,448 67
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