Please note Duke Nukem Forever is classified as an 18+ age rated game
Today I’m going to be taking a look at Duke Nukem Forever on the PC. If you've never played this type of game before it can be incredibly offensive, contain nudity and humour all mixed together to give a high octane adventure. Starring the good old Duke in his war against the Aliens invading Earth who come and take away his babes in a funny kind of way. :)
So let's get started...
It starts off that Duke has been inactive for too long and that the aliens are back to take away his babes and run havoc on the world but Duke is here to make them pay! It's not like your typical Duke Nukem game in that you can find health in secret areas, lying around on maps or on the walls. The Developers have gone down the route to give you a health bar which regenerates itself after you've stayed out of action a few seconds. You can also increase the health bar by boosting your ego by lifting weights, looking at explicit material on a computer and posing in a mirror and even playing and beating the pinball game. I'm not a big fan of the regenerating health but it seems to work okay with the added humour.
For the most part the levels can become increasingly frustrating with the same design over and over, for example you will have a corridor and there will be numerous doors which you think you can enter, but no. The Developers seem to have made a game where you must follow their way of thinking and dictate how YOU play the game. There's one level which has no action in it what so ever. Later Duke manages to stand is a green pile of alien faeces (or that's what it looks like) making Duke shrink to the size of a rat! He then goes on to drive a toy RC car. The fun wears off rapidly. After driving around the same god damn level for over 5 minutes not seeing any enemies, or being able to go into another room to explore, I almost un-installed the game in frustration. Thankfully this is the only level in the game for this scenario.
Level design in 1998 and 2011 - backwards progress?
Back in 1996 when Duke3D was released, it was different; you could go back & forth through just one level and keep finding new routes, secret weapons, more ammo and babes - the list goes on. You could play the game how you wanted however DNF doesn't allow this at all. The level design is weak and I get the feeling The Developers couldn't be bothered putting more effort into the game, they wanted to finish it regardless and have it shipped through the door. This is a big let-down for me but doesn't entirely ruin the game. Take a look at the picture comparing a level back in 1998 and one from 2011.
The graphics aren't too bad, they're not the best but not the worst, it comes across that The Developers wanted to retain some of that D3D feeling by keeping the graphics simple and retro.
In the settings menu you've got your standard options to choose from. If you've played other FPS in the past couple of years (which I’m sure most of you have) you'll see there's not a right lot to change unfortunately! However; if you're like me and wish to play a FPS on your monitor and not sat in your grandmothers armchair watching from the other side of the room, you'll more than likely become motion sick. The Developers have gone down the console route of forcing the FOV (field of view) to 55 meaning, everything is bunched up in your face squeezed into the screen pretty much blocking any field of view. See below two comparisons: The one on the left is 55 FOV whereas on the right its 90, ideal for a 22” or 24” monitors.
Difference in Field of View in Duke Nukem Forever
Which would you rather have? In your face, I can only play DNF for a few minutes and be sick all over my monitor or, get the full beauty of the surrounds of the level. I know which I’d choose.
This is not a realistic game where a person can only carry a limited amount of weapons, why on earth have The Developers only allowed at any one time 2 weapons to be carried? They say Duke can lift 600lbs but can only carry 2 guns at a time.
There are two other choices that you're able to use as weapons. Your foot-stamp, which can turn an enemy into minced meat and your fists. Unfortunately, you can only use your fists when you're out of ammo, so any plans you had to save ammo by using your knuckles has being thrown out of the window.
The weapons can feel clunky and accuracy is not brilliant. Melee can work... sometimes! Others it feels like I'm shelving a brick into a sponge.
The general gameplay of DNF can be viewed as either tasteless or damn right disturbing. I won’t go into too much detail but if you play the game a couple of levels spring to mind, I will leave you to discover these!
One big rather disappointing part of the gameplay is invisible walls. You can't walk past when a cut-scene is on. You have to sit and wait for it to end and then when it does you're like okay, so what did that have to do with the games story? Absolutely bugger all.
One of the core problems to the game is that it’s not always funny; the jokes are bland and over-used time and time again. Duke sounds depressed. If I was him and had all his babes, money etc. I would be over the moon. It seems that Duke came too late with nothing to pack.
Unfortunately, I seem to have a lot of negative things to say about this game, I'm not deliberately bashing at the developers as such but they could have put more effort into the level design, weapon carry limit and general gameplay aspect.
Generally my overall feelings to the game can be summed up in a few paragraphs:
Mini Duke in dated Unreal Engine glory
The game performs as you'd expect for a title which uses a modified version of the Unreal 2.5 engine. It's dated tech. Still can be colourful and has some good fire and lightning affects but don't expect anything like Crysis.
Linear maps can work if you give the player some freedom to move. Unfortunately, DNF fails on this section. I feel like I’m being dictated i.e. you must go here, here and here. Level design is bland and mostly lacks any incentive. There are some puzzle levels too which for a good few minutes got me scratching my head.
Is any game worth the initial price? That's up to the individual to decide. Personally, I wish I had waited and bought this in the bargain bucket.
Overall I am happy the game finally came out after some 14 years. It's not like your average shooter; it does feel like I’m playing a game that was made in the 90's. Actually I positively believe this was the whole point however; they’ve tried to bring back the old duke to a generation who don't know who duke is and I feel from this, a large percentage of the players think it's mindless antics, which is what makes Duke... Duke!