Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever: A Brief Public Service Announcement

This is not a review. I'm only able to tolerate playing Duke Nukem Forever for about an hour at a time, and then I have to take a shower to wash away the stench of the thing and maybe go to my Quiet Place and turn out the lights and listen to soothing music. Or perhaps play a little Portal 2 to remind me that games don't have to be this grotesquely awful, and that there is goodness and decency left in the world of PC gaming.

It's not that the game is vulgar, gross, sexist, crass, and stupid. It's certainly all those things, and deliberately so. It would be pointless to rail against the misogyny, omnipresent scatological references, juvenile sexuality, outrageous gore, or profanity. Those were always going to be signature elements in any Duke Nukem sequel. Complaining about them would be like going to Hooters "for the food" and complaining about the way the waitresses dress.

The only real point to be made about these elements is this: while the original Duke Nukem managed to be somewhat tasteless while still being a decent game, Duke Nukem Forever is grindingly, insultingly, nihilistically tasteless while simultaneously being one of the worst shooters I've played since Corridor 7. What was a send-up of 1980s action stereotypes in the original is now just self-referential, tired, and joyless.

The gameplay is ghastly. The level design is horrible and the game itself is boring, repetitive, and pointless. At one point Duke is shrunk down and tools around in a tiny car, and you wonder: did anybody even play this game after they made it? Did they enjoy the tiny-Duke level? Did they finish it and say, "Yes, by golly, this is something people will want to pay to experience!" Because if they did, then they really should be looking for work in some business more in line with their skill set; perhaps slop boy at a hog processing plant.

If this game was a person, he would be a paunchy middle-aged man with a bad combover and a silk shirt open to the waist to reveal the cornicello tangled in his matted, graying chest hair. It is so desperate to be Super-Alpha-Male-Plus-With-Extra-Testosterone-On-Top that it winds up merely sad and sickening.

And did I mention how bad it plays? Really, really bad. I have not finished it, but I've invested about 3 hours so far, and hated every single moment. I felt like someone was grinding my face into the gunk you find under a fridge. I didn't crack a smile once: not at the pee jokes, the cliched movie quotes, the quips, or the parade of bimbos. Everything about it was dreary and hateful. The graphics are just bad. The action is the worst possible blend of trite early-FPS shoot-n-scoot and modern pop-up shooter styles. Duke has to hide like a little girl when he's wounded, in order to have time to heal. Yet--bizarrely--the monster behavior and level design favors old-skool run-n-gun action. It's all a hot mess.

I will put more time into the game because I have to. It's my job. However, even with only a few hours under my belt, I can tell you without hesitation that you do not want to buy this game, download the demo, or look at the box. This isn't "bad in a good sort of way." It's bad in a soul-killing, suck-all-the-sunlight-from-your life sorta way.

UPDATE: I've been asked why I didn't write in detail about some of the game's most notorious elements in this post. I just didn't think I could even describe them on a site that tries to stay family friendly. I know there are kids who read this site, and I couldn't think of any language that could describe the content and still remain kid-safe. For that, I'll refer you to the review at Ars Technica, which explains just how bad it gets. 


Neoglitch said...

Well... I knew that if Duke Nukem Forever would EVER be finished, it would fall completely short to our expectations. But who knows, maybe in 2022 they will release a GOOD Duke Nukem game... let's wait shall we? xD

Thanks for sharing this post... and dude, don't play the game if it's that painful to you; just link to another review or something :)

Kanji Master

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