-Error reading from ESRB datastream-
The environments throughout the game are varied to the pouring rain in the dark of the ball park, through to an extravagant casino and a glimpse of the streets of L.A the visuals are nothing particularly special and do seem to loose quite how sharp they are when played on large screens. However, for the most part the graphics are very good and fairly impressive unless you are fortunate enough to own a copiously sized screen in the 47” region.
Women are a key part of Dukes life and rather important to him especially the hot ones which is where we begin to have a problem with the alien visitors. The problem is that they seem intent on taking away all the hot women and Mr Nukem will not settle for that any more than he did the last time they tried it.
From the very beginning we see that despite the delays and countless rewrites and reproductions that Duke Nukem Forever has been through Duke himself has been very busy with pictures of himself after a successful shark fishing trip, another of the king atop Everest and ten there is the multiple franchises such as the Duke Dome, Duke Burger as well as his own Casino to explore throughout just to name a few.
Once you start to get into the game you’ll probably notice what I noticed and no I’m not just talking about the very lengthy load screens despite installing the game to hard drive. This doesn’t feel like a shooter. I don’t know whether or not it’s the nostalgia or the sarcastic humour throughout but the whole thing feels like an arcade game. Not as though you’re sat at home on your super powerful console but like you’re using an old cabinet style machine. This feel is helped along by not only the gameplay and the fact you’re playing Duke Nukem it’s also the old school end of level boss style which features on multiple occasions and also features a new addition to the line-up in the form of The Energy Leech.
There is however one fault to the nostalgia for those of you that hate underwater levels. In my opinion underwater levels are just unnecessary and unwelcome on my console whether or not you are Duke Nukem. But aside from this minor setback even a level with a layout that I hated still didn’t make me want to put down my controller and call it a day.
All the classic Duke enemies are present and accounted for but look just a tad more evil as sin. You’ll get to meet the Cycloid, Pig Cops and Octabrains all of who are intent on making your life a misery and ultimately trying to end The King. The game has Four Difficulty settings only unlocking insane after you’re done the first time round. Once on the higher levels and further into the game the enemies become far more powerful and menacing to an insane point at times but who wants a walk in the park?
In the years gone by Duke certainly hasn’t lost his sense of humour which has been integrated into the game throughout. During his inception Duke was a means of poking fun at all the of the day action heroes such as Arnie and Bruce Willis so how did this carry over to 21st century Nukem? Other video games of course. With mocking references to Halo, Portal and Gears of War just to name a few some are blatant and some rather subtle but my favourite still remains “power armour is for pussies” when Duke is offered some that very closely resembles that of Master Chief. The game also pokes a little fun at itself as well with Dukes response to being asked for a red key card being along the lines of ‘go f**k yourself’.
Duke has also acquired himself a nice set of wheels known as The Mighty Foot which is rather useful not only for getting from one place to another but also for wasting aliens. Although driving doesn’t feature heavily in the game here will be times where Duke has to drive his own vehicle and also borrow a radio controlled car from a young fan whilst slightly smaller than he should be.
Weapons are easy enough to find and most enemies will drop theirs for you to carry off and waste some more of their brethren with. By the far the more entertaining are the freeze and shrink rays which, as you can probably guess, do exactly what they say on the tin. Once frozen you execute however you feel like it by shot, the execution feature or by just beating them down. When shrunk you can watch as you’re enemies cower in fear at your feet before squishing them. Be wary though as at points throughout the game you yourself will be shrunk and your once mighty weaponry reduced to nothing more than a mere pea shooter.
On top of the gratuitous amount of weapons that are kicking around in Duke Nukem Forever there is also plenty of other odds and ends to help you on your way. Explosives are represented by the trap mine and classic pipe bomb complete with car key fob detonator. There’s also the Holoduke which works great for distracting enemies giving you the freedom to take some cover or sneak round and catch them off guard. Beer and steroids are of course available on several occasions with beer increasing your “ego”, duke equivalent to a shield, and steroids which increase the strength of melee attacks massively although both will cause you a pretty distracting effect on the screen as a kind of payback system.
Now there’s one elephant in the room which this game bought to the party which is multiplayer. The online multiplayer for this game is absolutely atrocious and really has no refining features. Whilst keeping the old styles of finding a game by hosting or locating a specific game type instead of a newer matchmaking system this nostalgia can’t save it. This is a shame really because the campaign is excellent and everything that you would want and expect but the multiplayer sucks and I am happy to just pretend that it doesn’t exist helped by the fact that there isn’t an Xbox Live logo on the front cover.
With the game being as good as it is let’s just pretend the multiplayer never happened because it would be unfair to score such a fantastic overall single player experience lower because of a dire multiplayer feature.
8.5 out of 10
How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!
This game is truly epic and although a shame that it took twelve years this has to be ignores to an extent because it was never going to be perfect no game is. But Duke Nukem Forever comes damn close. Its funny, relaxed and exciting as well as a nice break from games that take themselves seriously. It is a fun game but the loading screens taking as long as they do and that useless multiplayer feature are a constant nagging problem but had they been improved or even not as bad then this game would, in theory, warrant an even higher score.
Duke Nukem Forever is out now in the UK and will be released in America on the 14th of June.