Review by WonderCaliban
Bad graphics + bad gameplay + decent jokes = reasonable fun
I read an interview a while back which described why Duke Nukem Forever had fallen into Development Hell. It described how the guy in charge at 3D Realms (forget his name) just kept coming up with new ideas he wanted to include and kept switching to better graphics engines to make it the most amazing game ever. But with PC graphics and processing constantly improving there were always some major improvements they felt that could be made. In the end they'd spent alot of money but never finalized anything and so it never happened. Others tried to resurrect the project, but fell into similar problems.
Finally after 15 years DNF is finally released. Is it the best game ever?.... No. Is it a good game?....Not really. Does it at least have the humor and interactive touches that made Duke 3D such fun?....Yes.
The game uses the Unreal 3 engine. The trouble with the U3 engine is that pretty much half the games around nowadays use it. When it's used well, the games look amazing. When used badly the games look ugly, clumsy, lifeless and chunky. Whilst I have seen it used worse than here (Leisure Suit Larry), the game does not look good at all. Best example is the shadows made by the dropships in the desert sections, the shadows jerk across the sand rather than move smoothly. The character models also look awful. The uncanny valley has never been deeper than with the human models here.
The shooting mechanics are dreadful and the weapon handling feels really off. With only few enemy types the whole experience gets quite repetitive by the end of the game. The loading times are extremely long and on the harder difficulties where you die easily, you can spend alot of time looking at the loading screen.
So, after that is there actually anything to like about he game? Well, the jokes are quite funny, with lots of obvious (and less) obvious references to other games and popular culture. Duke is a great main protagonist whose ego, arrogance and demi-god reverence from the general public will provide some laughs. The game is full of nice small touches, such as interactive pinball machines and air hockey. There is also quite a bit of nudity if that interests you. There are, especially in the early sections of the game some novel game design set pieces, controlling an RC car to get a plot item, being shrunk to mini-Duke and navigating the Casino and Duke Burger.
Overall this is a below average FPS but if you like Duke Nukem you will have some fun playing through it and will get some laughs out of it. The Extras section has some of the gameplay video of previous Duke Nukem Forever versions that never were, its a little sad that they never saw the light of day, they look better than this one, and in the case of the 2000-2006 era ones, the graphics look better as well.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Duke Nukem Forever (EU, 06/10/11)
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