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June 14, 2011



- It's finally here so all those "forever" jokes will stop
- Playing as a shrunken Duke



- Maybe it should have just been left as a historical curiosity
- Unable to decipher if satire and parody was the goal, rather than simple "EXTREME!" offensiveness
- Horrible load times
- Corridor gunplay from point to point



Action Figure Review: Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem 3D)

Review: Bulletstorm (PC)

Review: Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (PC)



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Duke Nukem: Forever

Score: 4.0 / 10


duke nukem forever          duke nukem forever


M: You don't like me, Bond. You don't like my methods. You think I'm an accountant, a bean counter more interested in my numbers than your instincts.
James Bond: The thought had occurred to me.
M: Good, because I think you're a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War...
        - GoldenEye (1995)


Duke Nukem is a bit of relic -- a character completely out of step -- and is a complete misogynist dinosaur. Everything about Duke Nukem Forever is about feeding Duke's galaxy-sized ego, rapacious sex drive, and his cinefile tendencies.

Everything and everyone in Duke Nukem Forever exists as an extension of Duke's self-centered personality. Even from the very beginning, which commences with a




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"flashback" of the ending of Duke Nukem 3D (1996) while Duke is fellated by twin sisters, around every corner is some ode to Duke's inflated personality. Besides the massive Duke statues and paintings, nameless EDF soldiers and strippers pine for Duke either to "Kick ass!" or bed them. After about 15 minutes of this outlandish wandering through Duke's id, there's the understandable tendency


to start thinking of Duke Nukem Forever as some kind of protracted exercise in satire or parody/homage at the very least.

Appreciating Duke Nukem Forever as satire hits a wall pretty quickly. For example, an underground lair reminiscent of "Aliens" features alien/necrotic boobs affixed to the wall. Duke can slap them and produce sprays of fluid. His observation: Got milk? Then he gets an ego boost, which increases his maximum health. On a thematic level, it makes sense; this is Duke's wonderland. Helpless (and topless) females tied to giant, slimy phallic tentacles fits right alongside "wall breasts" but it seems more like "Hey, look how EXTREME! this game is!" than any kind of Swiftian attempt at satire. Or even humor.

Hey, Duke can throw poop! Funny, right? Extreme, right?


duke nukem forever          duke nukem forever


The game is such a muddle. One can only guess that this might have something to do with the protracted and storied 14-year development of Duke Nukem Forever. It never feels cohesive.

Duke spins referential one-liners like a handspinner out of control. Everything from Total Recall (1990) to more contemporary references like Dead Space and Halo. But for every hit, there are a dozen misses; lines that would have been limp back in the mid 1990s. But keeping an ear out for these nuggets is likely the only way to maintain any interest in Duke Nukem Forever.

Except for one or two moments -- the shrunken Duke sections are enjoyable -- Duke Nukem Forever isn't interesting; in fact, it's boring. The gunplay is wrote, the weapons are holdovers from 1996, and the levels aren't interesting or open enough to validate any kind of exploration.


duke nukem forever          duke nukem forever


Even extending the action into the multiplayer realm can't pull Duke out of the quagmire. It's done better by dozens of other games and the "Capture the Flag" mode where the "flag" is a woman will likely offend a lot of people (just in case the content in the campaign doesn't). There's some interesting shrunken Duke options, but that's about it.

Duke Nukem Forever likely should have been left as a historical curiosity. Just tell the gaming public all that the code was lost in a Library of Alexandria-like calamity. In resurrecting Duke in this way, dropping him from 1996 into 2011, with uninteresting levels tethered together in a loose way, middling gunplay, and offensiveness trying to hide behind parody and satire, even the thickest rose-colored glasses of nostalgia won't hide the fact the game's not good or even fun to play.

- Aaron Simmer

(June 20, 2011)


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