Duke Nukem Forever

The real scandal about DNF isn’t the graphics (more about that later) or autoheal, no – it’s the fact, that there are only 2 scenes with (partially) nude women in the game! What the hell Duke?!? How could you let us down like that!
All the talk about the game’s graphics just shows what spoiled bitches some gamers are nowadays™. At the game’s beginning I thought they were plain mad, because the first scene in the bathroom portrays a really nice looking game, that doesn’t cover new ground, but is on par with most other current titles. It’s when the game progresses, that I realized, that the graphics are determined by the age of the levels. Meaning: The levels done/finished last, look the best and later on there are enough textures that aren’t that detailed anymore. But who cares, right?
What really WAS some sort of letdown in DNF, was the fact (yeah everyone already heard it), that Duke can carry only 2 weapons at once. Of course the person responsible needs to be beaten until he/she autoheals… And there is the issue with the missing mighty boot – that’s especially weird, since there is an alternative melee attack. Who puts in a weapon melee attack, but removes the mighty boot? Does that make sense to you? It’s like they don’t know the Duke at all (no jetpack either). Thus it appears to be a consolation, that Duke still auto-smashes enemies with his boot, who were shrunk. Yes, the shrink gun is back and so is the freezer. The freezer I never really used, actually I succeeded only once, in turning a pig into an icecube. That means the freezer really isn’t a practical weapon at all, since more often than not, many enemies have to be dispatched fast. Given the circumstances, that only 2 weapons can be carried and that EDF (Earth Defense Force) ammo crates reload all weapons, I ignored most weapons (after trying them out once). Let’s face it, some of them don’t seem very well balanced (same goes for some attacks that can damage the Duke). The ripper (they renamed the chain gun, no idea why), the pistol and the shotgun were the most useful, IMHO. Some boss fights required the rocket launcher, but every time it truly became necessary, it was lying around somewhere in the vicinity, so it was superfluous to carry it around, just in case a boss would appear.
I guess now I can deal with the last negative part, that I feel needs to be addressed, which would be the duration of the game. The last level is actually named “final bossfight” or something, that spoils without ambiguity, that this is it. I was “shocked” and hoped for it to be just a joke. I played like 5-6 hours (as always, I forgot to measure), which is way too short IMHO. And I’m usually one of those guys, who played a game 7-8 hours, when “everyone else” says it took them 5 hours. I don’t rush (not deliberately, at least). I’m good with playing games over several sessions until I eventually finish them. Especially when the game is good, that’s what I hope for, actually. [Update: Many people tell how they played 10 hours, I guess the reason for this is how “easy” the levels are designed, so that I could always run straight to the exit, without further ado.]
The rest of the game is okay or good enough – at least it’s more or less what I expected. Noteworthy is, that the environment is quite interactive again, leading up to actual mini-games like flipper. Exploring is further rewarded, by sometimes giving permanent ego/health boosts.
There are several ideas in it, that I never saw realized in a game before; there’s this scene in which the Duke was shrunk and the player has to fight through a kitchen (and even jump over hamburgers, so he won’t be burned by the oven), the ground level is flooded and… the electricity is on. A woman is trapped in the middle of the room on a crate and she has to be saved on top of it all. Many objects can be destroyed (as I would expect of a Duke game) and the kitchen shelfs are full with items such a place would have. When this stuff breaks during firefights, the vision can get blurred not by blood, but this time by ketchup and/or mustard. :) DNF thankfully doesn’t have an arrow pointing in which direction the player has to go (after autoheal/2 guns etc. I would have expected everything) and the level design is well enough to guide the player, even though it isn’t always obvious at the first glance (still, some interactive objects glow). That’s how such games should be, although it’s possible to argue about the right balance forever. I judged DNF while keeping in mind many shooters of the last 2-3 years, that are barely more than just a straight corridor, where it’s impossible to go astray. It didn’t seem fair to me, to overly criticize a lack of a bigger, explorable game world, when this has become the standard (this standard is what I would deem negative first). I got stuck only once in the game, when Duke has to jump through a hole in the wall (after being shrunk), once the electricity was turned off. But even that piece was well hinted at, because there were sparks at the exit, I just didn’t get it.
The game plays equally smooth in other regards, the sole thing I encountered, that could be categorized as glitch/bug, was when I managed to get stuck with my truck™ (yes, the game has several vehicle sections). Normally, the truck can be flipped when it lands on its back, but that didn’t work and I still couldn’t drive in any direction. The checkpoints (no classic save/load system) however, are so numerous and after short time intervals, that I only had to replay 30 seconds to progress the game beyond that point.
So that’s it for DNF then

Actually I didn’t laugh a lot (or maybe not at all?). The Duke (Nukem 3D) formula, for me, was always lots of action and the hero would make a few remarks every now and then. That concept wasn’t really transported over to DNF in the same way. I may have fully realized this just now, but it was really primarily the action (and interactivity of the game world) that drew me to DN3D. DNF looks at this a little different, demonstrated by starting the game with a really long part, before Duke even gets his first weapon. 3D dropped the Duke on top of a building with an explosion and the first thing players see is him loading his gun. What worked more for me than all the supposed humor (at times I felt a little alienated; e.g. the part with the Holsom twins “exploding” was just cruel – and yeah, I get it, you can’t properly discuss “fun”, you either have it or not), were the many references to other franchises. So for any sequel, I would like to see a shift back to a focus on the action with the catchphrases only tagging along, as they should.

Oh and to people, who said 12 years (since the prequel/development of DNF) is official/canon instead of 14, because they said so in the game itself: Did it ever occur to you, that they didn’t record the audio just now? Great Scott!

PS: One of the premises of the game is, that Duke Nukem almost goes on this quest to save “our chicks”. But that’s not what happens in the game. Not only does he save, at best, two women in total (one in the elevator and the other one in the kitchen and he merely does so by accident, because he’s in the elevator/kitchen himself/he would do nothing different if they weren’t there), he quite obviously doesn’t give a shit, when they die. When the Holsom twins are killed off, he isn’t even angry about this (and he knew those two “quite well”). So it’s very different from Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, where he doesn’t just save babes in every level, they are also with him in the end, so it’s clear they survived.

PPS: If I’d known, that trashing the game would give me more publicity, I would have tried harder. :P

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