Guest Post: Review & Analysis of Duke Nukem

[The following is a guest post by Willow Palacek, gamer extraordinaire and indie game designer. You can visit her blog at Willow Rants. A few weeks ago, Willow asked me if she could do a guest review of Duke Nukem Forever. Seeing as how I intended to never played the game myself, I was quite happy to have someone offer to suffer through the game for me. As such, I owe a debt of gratitude to Willow for playing such an awful game so I don’t have to. Thanks, Willow!]

Like many gamers, I fondly remember Duke Nukem 3D, blowing up aliens, exploring (and blowing up) colorful environments pulled from life, and laughing at Duke’s one-liners. By the time I first became aware of Duke Nukem Forever, it was already a joke, a game no one really expected would ever be released.

So, I was pretty impressed by any design company that has the development chops and guts to pick up Duke Nukem Forever and actually release it. I was sold as a day one purchase.

In retrospect, this was a mistake.

I am a girl gamer. This qualifies me to write a review of Duke Nukem Forever. The girl part qualifies me to call it out for being horribly sexist (which it is.) The gamer part qualifies me to call it out for not really being that good of a game.

“But,” I hear you saying, “girls aren’t real gamers.”

As of the time of writing this article, my Xbox Live Gamer Score was 38,370. Chances are very good that my gaming e-peen is bigger than yours.

Part I, or Why Duke Nukem Forever Isn’t That Good of a Game

Let’s talk first about what made Duke Nukem 3D a great game. Mechanically, it’s essentially the same game as DOOM (although with a more advanced engine, making 3D environments possible). Go around an area, collect weapons and keycards, fight bad guys, get beat up, find medkits, find the exit.

What seperates Duke Nukem 3D is both the game’s unique voice and unique polish on the FPS formula. Wise cracking Duke taunts his enemies, remarks on the environment, and yes, even tips strippers. Our DOOM protagonist is largely silent, occasionally grunting. The levels in Duke Nukem often depict, very clearly, real life locations, such as movie theaters, adult video stores, a burger joint, a supermarket, but retain a fiendish level design that rewards searching every nook and cranny for alternate routes and power-ups. Secrets are tantalizingly hidden everywhere.

To me, the most iconic feature of Duke Nukem 3D is the creative weapon selection: instead of just the standard pistol/shotgun/machine gun/grenades/rocket launcher, the grenades are remote activated pipe bombs, one has access to laser tripwires to lay traps for enemies, and there’s the ridiculous shrink ray and freeze rays, and the absurdly powerful Devastator.

Now let’s talk about Duke Nukem Forever.

In a 90s shooter, you lived by your wits and your reflexes. Health and ammo were regularly hard to come by. In most modern shooters, health is regenerative. (See Halo, Gears of War, and too many others to count.) Get hit, your screen goes red, and you need to take cover for it to recharge. I remember many fights against a nasty monster in Duke Nukem 3D where I frantically pulled out all the stops, burning through Devastator ammo, then Rockets, then using the Chaingun, finally plugging it with pistol rounds until it was dead.

Most battles in Duke Nukem Forever are repetitive. Fight the monsters, duck behind cover, heal, take ammo off their body. You can only carry two weapons at a time instead of the whole arsenal. (The classic array returns, plus the Rail Gun, which is a nice variant on the Sniper Rifle.) Ammo is plentiful. Most boss fights are boring: figure out the weakness, duck in and out of cover, and fire rockets. Rockets are the only thing that damage the bosses, and there’s no ammo scarcity: ammo crates are everywhere in boss fights. (The exception is the final boss, which has rocket wielding enemies spawn into the area you must dispatch to take their ammo. That’s actually an interesting fight.)

What about the level design? We have a few theme levels: Duke Nukem’s casino, and the Duke Burger restaurant, but most of the game is generic industria. The levels are also almost exclusively linear in scope. There is little imagination or passion to the level design. (The Duke Burger is a strong exception, featuring a shrunken Duke and enemies, and gun battles in the stock room and a flooded kitchen. It’s still linear, but at least it takes advantage of the environment to create some interesting gameplay.)

There’s some environmental puzzles, but they mostly involve finding heavy barrels and stacking them to create a weight, and are more tedious than puzzling. There’s also less variety to the power-ups available. Duke Nukem Forever has Beer (toughness), Steroids (melee power up), Duke Vision (night vision, only used in a few places), and the Holoduke (a fun way to distract your enemy, but extremely scarce.) Duke Nukem 3D also had a portable medkit and an underwater rebreather, but the best powerup was the Jetpack, allowing Duke to fly around the level and bypass many obstacles. The lack of even a single Jetpack level is a waste. Also, the controls seem a little sluggish. This is completely subjective, but it’s my damn review.

What’s not subjective is the completely glacial load times. Without the Duke Nukem brand, this game would be completely off the radar, a laughable failure. (As is, it’s a laughable embarrassment.)

Let’s sum up. In a shooter game, the shooting sections are forgetable. The level design is completely generic. During a loading sequence, I literally have enough time to go make a sandwich. I’m taking my copy of Duke Nukem to gamestop today to turn it in for credit. I always keep my games, even the ones I have scored 1000/1000 and know I’ll never play again.

Part II, or Why Duke Nukem is Horribly Sexist

There’s sexism, and then there’s sexism.

I was able to find the humor in the elevator sequence, where a woman says “I’ll go down with you anytime, Duke.” I’ve been known to have a crude sense of humor, and I’ll laugh at a good sexual innuendo (or even a mediocre one.)
Is the fact that Duke is desired by all women in the game sexist? Probably. Is the fact that, in a dig against Halo, Duke says that “Power armor is for pussies” sexist? (Absolutely- although also funny.) But I’m not going to get my panties in a knot about either.

Then there’s Capture the Babe. Where instead of flags, you have ditzy “babes” you hoist over your shoulder, have to occasionally spank (because otherwise they cloud your field of vision), and call out sexual innuendos. (“Did we just score?”)

Capture the Babe is sexist. It’s not endearingly sexist though, or offensively sexist. It’s just stupidly sexist. My response to Capture the Babe was largely the same as Gabe’s.

No, what’s really sexist about Duke Nukem Forever is how it glamorizes violence towards women and fetishizes rape.

Think I’m overreacting? In the level the Hive, we find the women who have been kidnapped by the aliens, and transformed into some sort of (topless) human/alien hybrid breeder. What does Duke do to these women? He kills them. (“Even I can’t save you now,” he says, or even worse, “Sorry babe, it’s better this way.”)

I lack a vocabulary to convey how wrong this is, but I’m going to give it a shot anyways.

No, fuck it. If you don’t understand why that’s twisted and wrong, you’re not worth my time.

As fate would have it, my boyfriend chose that level to sit down and watch me play Duke Nukem Forever. And he was made uncomfortable. (I think he’s a keeper.)

Soon after, you fight an alien queen with three disgusting withered bare breasts.

Then there’s the strip club dream sequence level, Duke Nukem’s Titty City. In this level, you are first confronted with a stripper (naked except for a tiny thong) who gives you a quest to find a bag of potato chips, a vibrator, and a condom. Then you get an unskippable lap dance cut scene.

You know what’s worse than unskippable cut scenes? An unskippable cut scene that’s uncomfortably sexual. (I don’t know of any game that waves a giant dick in your face. If that was the case in Dragon Age 2, maybe that one guy would have had a point.)

Oh, you know what’s even worse than that? In said strip club dream sequence, there’s a number of mini-games to increase your ego. (Health). Air hockey, pinball, a basketball hoop, and the Whack-a-Mole game. Except they completely ruined Whack-a-Mole by making it sexist tripe. Called Alien Abortion. Where the game-space is a naked woman’s body. With aliens popping out of it.

In all of this, I wonder how in hell this game slipped through without an Adults Only rating.

Part III, or Why the Multiplayer is Terrible

Most of the controversy surrounding Duke Nukem Forever is about Capture the Babe (not the single player campaign, which really deserves more scrutiny.) So I knew I had to play multiplayer for my review experience to be complete.

Most of the multiplayer is ripped directly from Dukematch from Duke Nukem 3D, which is to say, it’s the same exact levels, only the gameplay is worse because the servers are terrible and there’s rampant lag. Capture the Babe is the same, only with a veneer of sexism drenched over the awkwardly implemented capture the flag mechanics.

Also, you can only play as Duke. I would have gotten a bit of a chuckle if I could go around blowing people up with one of the babes as my avatar. That would have almost made multiplayer enjoyable for me.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Gamestop.

36 thoughts on “Guest Post: Review & Analysis of Duke Nukem

  1. Well Willow did a proper review of the game listing game mechanics she picked up on and things that were right and wrong with the game. So thank you and well done Willow.

    Now just one question: do you think that scene your boyfriend walked in on could be used as a litmus test for whether or not a guy is boyfriend material?

  2. The funny* thing is that the demo for DNF contains none of the horrifying or (majorly) sexist elements, its almost as if they knew this shit would put off a large part of their fan base, as if the gameplay were not bad enough.

    One of my mates made the mistake of buying after the demo (in his words, yeah its crap but its duke, it’ll be funny) and he more or less paralysed my arm with a blow for selling him this “sociopathic piece of shit” , the mood whiplash from “ha ha, sort of funny old school shooter with poor wit” to ” what the fucking hell guys?” was unbelievable and we are both, um, not easily offended or upset by such things (15 years of internet use and gaming may not cause violence but I think it deadens the soul).

    *Funny ‘WTF’ not funny ‘Ha ha’

  3. It saddens me that this game is going to sell over a million copies and I’m only taking the gameplay into account. I pirated it since I knew it would be bad just to check it out but I couldn’t even get past the casino level since the game was sooooooo boring.

    • If its any consolation, the reviews for this game have been utterly shit. And the developer Randy Pitchford (who said “life isn’t worth living if Duke isn’t in it”) has gone mysteriously quiet after all the negative response from fans the the media.

      • And yet they are reluctant (or seem to be) to do Borderlands 2, yeah that game only shifted about 4 million copies, got critical and fan acclaim….

    • I think that was already referred to in the review with the dragon age 2 quip.

  4. “I am a girl gamer. This qualifies me to write a review of Duke Nukem Forever. The girl part qualifies me to call it out for being horribly sexist (which it is.) The gamer part qualifies me to call it out for not really being that good of a game.

    “But,” I hear you saying, “girls aren’t real gamers.”

    As of the time of writing this article, my Xbox Live Gamer Score was 38,370. Chances are very good that my gaming e-peen is bigger than yours.”

    This does not qualify you to review Duke Nukem. Do you know what does qualify you? Being a good writer, and having journalistic integrity (Not so much praise directed towards you, more a listing of the requirements needed). If you keep making the distinction “girl gamer” you will keep being catagorised and attacked for being such by the ignorant masses, so just lose the first half of the description.

    Also, using phrases like “e-peen” is wildly unprofessional, and more than that, is reflective of double standards. You can’t take offence to the horrible portrayal of women in this game right after you use childish and sexist phraseology regarding the male anatomy, being humorous (And that’s meeting you more than half way, there.) or otherwise.

    And in reference to the “But,” I hear you saying, “girls aren’t real gamers.” part; coming into the situation expecting a fight (Although in this case it’s more like aggressively vilifying.) isn’t the most persuasive argument either.

    Your review is perfectly accurate, this is an awful game for awful people and should never have seen the light of day, but your execution is lacking, and it’s that misconception that being female is a requirement to call things out for being “horribly sexist” that perpetuates this ongoing disagreement between male and female members of the gaming population.

    Guest posters is a cool idea on this website. Although getting a male writer in would be a nice way to improve credibility and objectivity. I’d love to see that happen but it probably won’t, will it?

    • Although getting a male writer in would be a nice way to improve credibility and objectivity.

      Just a note: when someone says that, it sounds an awful lot like “I won’t believe any of this unless a man says it.” Not your intent, perhaps, but it’s a common enough sentiment that hearing it raises hackles. Also, you’ve got the entire rest of the Internet to read male writers writing about games. If you don’t think wundergeek is credible enough, go somewhere else.

      • Certainly not my intent. What I was referring to is more a male perspective from the same side of the argument. There are certainly men who agree with many of Wundergeek’s views, but a guest writer being a woman with a very similar viewpoint to Wundergeek sort of negates the need for a guest at all, doesn’t it? A male perspective on these same issues is just one of many ways to mix things up and provide objectivity (perhaps credibility was the wrong word to use without explanation.)

        It’s her personal blog, it’s definitely her place to choose who writes what, and she isn’t obliged to convey any particular viewpoint other than her own, but these comments are here for comments, and that’s merely what I was making. I really respect the fact that she has allowed comments, but it feels like every time one is made that is from a male reader it’s met with just a sprinkle of hostility.

        Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt though, anison.

        • You know what? The rest of the internet is a space where men can speak. I’m not going to tell men they CAN’T speak here, but I’m not going to make this a privileged male space because some people perceive men talking about video games as “more credible”. Fuck those people. If some people think this blog isn’t credible because it has chicks talking about games, then this blog isn’t for them. Period.

          • In a way maybe this blog is something for them, sort a sledgehammer of reality to the face.

            The thing that gave me pause reading the whole review/analysis was the implication (to me) that my being male somehow disqualifies me from seeing and calling out sexism…then I realised I was probably reading too much into it and moved on to hating the phrase E-peen (in general)

          • You know, maybe you should get a guest reviewer who’s a man.

            Oh, not a white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgender man, no. A non-white man. A transgender man. A poor man. A abnormal gender representational man. A gay man. A man with any combination of the above or any traits I missed. I’m sure they have their own grievances about this game they’d like to share and I don’t think any of your readers would really mind.

            • Like I said, I’m not going to tell men they can’t speak here. If someone who happens to be male proposes a guest post and I like the idea and the content then I’d probably go ahead with it. Heck, I happen to know some white het cismen who would have lots of interesting stuff to say on these topics.

              I can remain open to that, tho, and say that I’m not going to ACTIVELY SEEK OUT men to write here.

              • Honestly, I assumed that. I don’t think you have any obligation to seek out a reviewer of the opposite gender and sex (god knows most reviewers don’t; why should you?).

        • “a guest writer being a woman with a very similar viewpoint to Wundergeek sort of negates the need for a guest at all, doesn’t it?”
          _
          Not at all. People are different people with their own nuanced opinions, regardless of their sex.
          And as anison quite rightly points out, there is always the rest of the internet.

          I’m with you on the ‘expecting a fight’ bit though – anyone who thinks you need ‘the right credentials’ to write about video games on the internet is an idiot.
          _
          “it feels like every time one is made that is from a male reader it’s met with just a sprinkle of hostility.”
          _
          At the risk of speaking wrongly on anyone elses’ behalf, any ‘hostility’ isn’t because you identify yourself as male, but normally because most of us have been over these things before, or because these things are the reality of many womens’ daily existence.
          It’s a wonderful thing that you’re engaging with these issues, but like it or not, your sex means that your perspective on a feminist issue is not necessarily a particularly enlightening one.
          It is a privilege to be listened to on any topic, and one that comes easily to men in our society. The bar is set a bit higher in feminist spaces – this isn’t misandry, this is a matter of experience and knowledge – if you’re not at the level of the discussion we’re not obligated to take a handicap so you can keep up.

          Imagine entering a conversation between two talented guitarists by saying ‘Hey, I play a little bit of guitar!’ and strumming out Smoke on the Water – would they bother to have a conversation with you?

          One must also be aware that they may be projecting a double standard – it is expected that women will always be patient and nice when speaking to men. There is no expectation that men must always be nice to other men, so they are not generally accused of ‘hostility’ in the same way when they merely don’t have any patience for someone who was way behind the conversation everyone else was having.

          This may be interpreted as hostile, but please look up the meaning of objectivity! A ‘spread’ of subjective perspectives does not create an objective perspective. As anison said, it sounds like you’re saying that ‘only men can be objective’.

          I will just stress that it is great that you’re trying, and that Rome wasn’t built in a day – nobody was born the Perfect Feminist, and probably nobody is perfect.
          Start here: https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/
          http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

          • I really do appreciate you responding in a respectful and thought out manner, it’s a shame that it’s a novelty here.

            I just want to bring up some parallels you may not have noticed in your response:

            “It’s a wonderful thing that you’re engaging with these issues, but like it or not, your sex means that your perspective on a feminist issue is not necessarily a particularly enlightening one.”

            This one is particularly interesting because while it’s very much true, I don’t intimately know the idiosyncrasies of the female psyche, the same could be said of your understanding of the male psyche. This isn’t a childish rebuttal, however, but more the very purpose for my comments. Men and women don’t always understand each other, and this is part of what makes life beautiful and at times, frustrating. But to essentially discount what I’m saying because I am male commenting on feminist topics is to brazenly fly in the face of progress and understanding. The only way sexism will be addressed is through inter-gender communication. Hate and misinterpretation come from a lack of understanding, not a difference in values.

            Furthermore, one could project this same statement onto this website discussing games design and commercial releases with less than the required experience in the field. It’s a wonderful thing that you’re engaging with these issues, but like it or not, your lack of industry experience and perspective as a consumer means yours is not necessarily a particularly enlightened one.

            Indie RPGs, which I am told Willow creates, are a completely different thing to commercial releases and don’t follow the same rules, so that doesn’t necessarily count either.

            For example the silhouette of in game characters is very important, without a strong silhouette character models tend to be unrecognisable from afar. In the case of female characters, one way (not the only way!) to tackle this problem is to accentuate breast and hip ratios.

            That Team Fortress 2 image is a good example of a company who intimately knows their trade, ensuring silhouette recognition between characters is relatively easy. Many game developers strive to achieve this and while it’s not always done in the classiest way, it is done for an in game purpose.

            Now this is something Wundergeek may very well have not come across in her Art Major qualifications because it is simply not something that is prioritised in fine art creation. It’s just one example of how these images are just thrown up with no contextual clarification.

            And that double standard you refer to is not one I uphold. I request respect from those who I talk to, period. Gender, age, race, any signifier really, has absolutely no bearing on my expectation that if anyone is calmly and sensibly trying to express their opinions, they should receive the same in kind. It’s all about showing that you think before you speak and that you’re coming into it with an open mind I guess.

            I fail to see how I am “behind” the conversation. I agree with all of her points regarding Duke Nukem, one does not have to be a woman or even a games expert to see that it is a hateful and irresponsible concept for a game. One does not have to be a woman to understand feminism either. Feminism in a nutshell is the desire for gender equality in all things, I am firmly a supporter of this.

            I am not stressing that only men can be objective, I responded to Wundergeek further down with this:

            “That male guest writers remarks keeps getting focused on and completely misread. I’m not saying men would add credibility, I’m saying another viewpoint on the same topic, whether that’s agreeing with you or disagreeing with you, would add credibility. In the same way that a science experiment becomes more accurate the more test subjects and variables are used. Forget the word male writer, the suggestion was to consider someone who, in your words, doesn’t tick so many of your own boxes, and instead gives a different vibe from you. I mean hell, if you didn’t tell me it was a guest writer I would have assumed it was you writing this wundergeek.”

            That one keeps getting misread and the word MALE becomes the entire focus. Male writers is just one way you can achieve a more evenhanded opinion. Another way to do so is gamers from different cultures and countries writing in. Perhaps it was my mistake to mention male contribution on a feminist website without easing into the topic, but at the same time, these are VERY hostile reactions to an offhand comment taken the wrong way.

            As for that derailing for dummies page, reading it gives the very clear impression that anything anyone says who is not part of your “group” is not only wrong, it’s hate-filled. Even when it’s agreeing with you, especially when it’s not. That first point, especially, is phrased in such a way, that even responding to it incriminates sympathetic people not within the marginalised group further! That page is the ultimate derail!

    • Hell I could write something, I’m the Brother who’s sent her stuff in the past and I generally agree with her on a lot of this stuff anyways. Don’t assume that she’d never let that sort of thing happen. But more importantly it’s not about being a Man or a Woman in which gives credibility the credibility comes from the fact that the guest poster is a gamer that plays a lot of games. she did a pretty good job of doing the review and has obvious experience with the Duke Nukem franchise. So being a girl gamer with a high gamer score doesn’t qualify her for the job but she’s qualified for other reasons I don’t see what your problem is here. What you refer to as unprofessional is just off the cuff humor; yes her style is different than wundergeek’s but it’s not a huge stretch from what you see here on a day to day basis. Part of the reason for a guest poster is to show a different perspective and expose the readers to different writing styles.

      So let’s analyze this for a moment:
      Game review- check
      Well organized and written well- check
      Addressed the major issues of the blog- check
      Sarcastic humor- check

      Seems like that covers most of the posting standards of the blog to me.

    • Alex: Willow isn’t a professional game journalist, so how about you chill? She’s a gamer and designer of indie RPGs and someone who played the game, and also a female. Also, given my prolific use of hyperbolic sarcasm on this site, I had no objections to Willow referencing her “gaming e-peen”. It’s funny, and while it’s not a joke I would have made, that’s cool because Willow’s not me. Different perspective and all that.

      Also, re: getting a male writer in would be a nice way to improve credibility and objectivity.

      …srsly? The fact that this awesome review was written by a woman makes it LESS CREDIBLE? Are you seriously saying that I need to intentionally seek out MORE MALE WRITERS to write on this blog? OH NO! THE POOR MENZ! A WOMAN IS SPEAKING AND THEREFORE PEOPLE ARE NOT LISTENING TO THE MENZ!

      Yeah, you’re right that I’m not going to go out of my way to find MALE WRITERS to write about games on this blog. Because you know what? The gaming world is FULL of male writers. Gaming men are in NO danger of underrepresentation. That’s not to say that I’m going to forbid all guest posts by men ever, because this was the first and I honestly haven’t thought about it. But if I’m going to seek out people of a specific gender to “lend credibility” to this blog, they sure as fuck won’t be men.

      • That male guest writers remarks keeps getting focused on and completely misread. I’m not saying men would add credibility, I’m saying another viewpoint on the same topic, whether that’s agreeing with you or disagreeing with you, would add credibility. In the same way that a science experiment becomes more accurate the more test subjects and variables are used. Forget the word male writer, the suggestion was to consider someone who, in your words, doesn’t tick so many of your own boxes, and instead gives a different vibe from you. I mean hell, if you didn’t tell me it was a guest writer I would have assumed it was you writing this wundergeek.

        But no, the main point is, and you all proved it perfectly, is that I took offence to the phrase she used, considering it disrespectful and even sexist, and you know what you all
        did? You told me to get over it, It’s funny, etc. What does that remind you of? Perhaps the way some close-minded men react to your own concerns about sexism in society?

        • If your point was to get someone with a different perspective, it was completely lost in your choice of words. You said: getting a male writer in would be a nice way to improve credibility and objectivity. To me, that didn’t read as gee different perspectives would be nice. It read as only men can be credible when talking about video games on the internet. Given how much women get told to STFU ONLY MEN GET TO TALK ABOUT GAMEZ, I really hope you can see how “different perspectives plz” was not at all apparent in what you were saying.

          And you know what? The stated purpose of this blog is catharsis. It’s right there in the sidebar. I blog from an emotional venting kind of place, not a logical diplomacy kind of place. I reserve the right to get pissed off, because I’m not going to be one of those feminists who always has to be nice to men because omg someone might call me hostile. If that makes me come off as a hypocrite, then too bad. I have been SO VERY OPEN that these issues are hugely emotional for me. This blog came from my refusal not to give voice to my anger anymore. If that makes me “crazy” or “bitchy” or “hostile”, whatever. I’m so unbelievably beyond caring about that.

          So, that said, it’s nice to know that it was a case of talking past each other on the internet. “ONLY MEN GET TO TALK ABOUT GAMES” is a thing that gets said a lot on the internet and it’ce nice to know you weren’t actually saying that.

          • I dont think you’ve ever been overly* crazy, bitchy or hostile to anyone on this blog.

            In fact I think this blog is pretty much an open-ish space where yeah, you vent white hot rage but its generally not aimed at individuals and you’ve pretty calmly dealt with trolls and criticism. Of course for all I know you now spend 18 hours a day screaming at one of those man shaped training devices, beating the crap out of it with a wooden batleth and have to buy a new one every week.

            *I say overly because sometimes its cool to just snark at someone or mentally imagine setting them aflame with just your brain, though I sense someone might take issue with two of those words being used…

          • I think GMMaS is in the kind of position where it is sort of a ‘gateway drug’ to thinking about games in a sexism-aware way. Your comments sections run the gamut of opinions more than a lot of other sites’, at least.

    • I wrote a review that Anna liked enough to host on her blog. There’s only two requirements you need to review video games on the internet, a forum and an audience. Anna provided the former, and you’re providing the later.

      • Well technically you only need the forum, the audience is just gravy😉

        Really though, I enjoyed and liked your review and I found another blog to read…even if you do seem to think Halo:Reach has a better story than Mass Effect AND Planescape😉

        Madness indeed😛

  5. This review is nearly perfect, and I agree with the sentiment of all of it. Gearbox tried to duplicate a classic game, but they only had a shallow understanding of what made it great in the first place, which was crazy level design, odd-but-cool weapons, and run-and-gun tactics. They tried instead to play up the “memetic badass” angle, but that works if the game makes you feel like a badass, otherwise it’s just annoying. I can buy that sort of smug from say, Bayonetta, for example, because it doesn’t feel like hubris if a character that can outrun cars in high heels and bunch God into the sun is a bit cocky. DNF, however, plays exactly the same as Halo (despite what jokes Duke makes about power armour) so the character has no reason to be that narcissistic compared to the Master Chief. Past Duke didn’t have this problem, because jetpacks around while tossing pipebombs was, in fact, awesome, especially compared to what was out at the time.

    The thing with the alien impregnation didn’t originate in this game, it was in the series for a while so I didn’t expect to have much of an issue with it, but there’s a big difference between seeing it in cartoony 90’s graphics and seeing it in photo-realistic style true 3D. We’ve seen this exact same thing before, but it feels a lot worse now, and I’m not sure how Gearbox could’ve failed to notice it.

    • I wouldn’t really put most of the design and development decisions on Gearbox. This is a 3D Realms games that they tried to salvage mainly to secure the Duke Nukem licence. They mainly just took what was already there and stitched it together.

      “DNF, however, plays exactly the same as Halo”
      Have you even played Halo? If Halo played as poorly as this miserable game it wouldn’t be the series that it is.

      • Well, that’s unfortunate. Ah well, it’s not the first time a decent studio dropped the ball.

        And yeah, I don’t have a high opinion of Halo. Perhaps it’s the PC snob in me.

  6. Good review i enjoyed reading it. Interestingly, seeing DNF reception i would call it “moderately positive”.

  7. I’ll never understand why the developers didn’t make more fun of the fact that Duke was a 90s action hero in a 21 century world. He was always a bit of a parody figure- a mishmash of all the 80s and 90s action heroes of the past, complete with their one-liners. Duke was never supposed to be taken seriously.

    Then some ‘genius’ at 3d Realms thought “hey, why don’t we make Duke someone to laugh WITH instead of AT” and the game went downhill from there. Duke Nukem Forever wasn’t fun because (not counting the awful gameplay and level design) there was no humor in Duke’s dickish behavior. Women loved Duke, men loved Duke, kids loved Duke, Duke loved Duke….but there was no fun to it. There was no irony or parody to it. It was just one great, big Duke fest that the person playing wasn’t a part of. Nothing in the game showed me why Duke is this amazingly admired and desired character.
    I think the game would have been far funnier if Duke was the only person who loved Duke, and everyone else thought he was a bit of a stuck-in-the-80s loser. I would have gotten a laugh out of seeing characters roll their eyes whenever Duke walks into a room and say “who does this idiot think he is? 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger?”, as opposed to the “Wow, Duke! You’re the best! You’re so good at everything! Why can’t I be more like you?” attitude every character actually had.

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