Duke Nukem Forever: Duke Is Back

15 years in the making, Duke Nukem Forever brings back classic first person shooters and over the top sexism to the gaming world.

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In 1996, 3D Realms released Duke Nukem 3D – a first person shooter sequel to the sideways scrolling 2D Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem 2.

ID Software had released Doom in 1993 and taken the gaming world by storm. Where Doom was scary, dark and mysterious, Duke Nukem 3D took a different approach. It was a fun tongue-in-cheek take on the genre with more concentration on it being a shoot-everything-you-see game, and had interactive environments, cheesy dialogue and sexist attitude.

Duke Nukem 3D was a massive success. It spawned several expansion packs and was ported in various versions to different consoles and platforms.

Forever

A sequel had been in production for a long time. It became a running joke in the gaming world as development got pushed further and further back. Finally in 2011 – some 15 years later – Duke Nukem Forever was released to the gaming world.

It was available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, and ported to Mac OS X and is also now available on the Mac App Store.

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Never has a game garnered so much attention and anticipation by the gaming community – only to be met by such criticism once released. I remember reading review after review panning it for poor game play, bad controls, and offensive content.

I have been recently looking back at older FPS games – getting them to run on my modern Mac and buying games for my PlayStation 2. I downloaded the shareware version of Duke Nukem 3D for my Mac and had forgotten how great it was.

It made me want to take another look at Duke Nukem Forever. I found it for £3 on the PlayStation 3 and bought it. So I asked my daughter if I could use her console (as I don’t own one), and set about playing this highly criticised game.

Mac Version

It is available for the Mac – ported by Aspyr – which requires Mac OS X 10.7 on a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo Mac, 2 GB RAM, and 256 MB video RAM. As you can see, the requirements are quite high.

Updates

The first thing I had to do was sit through 20 minutes of PlayStation 3 updates – a feature I loath about modern gaming consoles. Gone are the days of inserting a cartridge or popping in a game disc and playing within seconds. Now it seems developers can push a game out and then release gigantic patches on a weekly basis to fix issues found later.

How Is It?

The moment you start Duke Nukem Forever, you get the feeling you are thrown back to the 90s. You start the game facing a urinal with the option to use it – which sets the attitude for the whole game.

Controls are pretty standard for a console. I prefer to play first person shooters with a mouse, but the PS3 controller does a good job. The controls are responsive and take very little time to get used to.

One thing to mention that seems to be across all platforms is slow loading times, which can be quite annoying at times – especially when you die.

Graphics – on the PS3 version at least – are sharp, especially in HD. This is a 2011 game on a seventh generation console. It doesn’t match to today’s high fliers, but the graphics are still superb, with amazing level design, enemies, and lighting effects.

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Windows version

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PlayStation 3 version

Game play is pretty much as you would expect in the 90s. Modern first person shooters rely too much on story line and working things out – plus a lot of them now have you playing as part of team so your AI compadres can help you out. Duke Nukem Forever sees you alone fighting a barrage of evil.

Along side the regular shooting there are neat twists on game play such as Duke shrinking and fitting in a radio control car, which you then race around levels on. The levels are interactive, so you can find yourself turning on hand driers and flushing toilets. You have a use button that opens doors, pulls panels off, or executes glory kills on enemies.

Power ups include steroids and beer, which makes you more powerful but blurs the screen like your are drunk. You also have a Holoduke, which confuses enemies, and a night goggle mode.

All this adds a little extra to the game play.

You are limited to holding only two weapons (four on the Windows version) at once, so you have to choose carefully, dropping others in favour of new or better ones. I found this a little odd, as I am used to cycling through eight weapons.

Health is now called Ego, which can be extended by finding certain items through levels, but also if you are close to death, simply hiding for a few seconds without taking any hits will have your levels return to full, so not reliant on finding health packs etc. – a great idea.

A Retro Feel

Duke Nukem Forever is a high intensity “shoot everything that shoots at you” game and then kill massive end of level bosses. Just like games used to be. It harks back to the good ol’ days of first person shooter games, but with modern looking graphics. It’s not dark or too thought provoking; it a fun killing spree game and reminds me of the Serious Sam series of games with its silliness and fairly simple approach.

Bad Press

Reviews on release slated it for repetitive game play, poor graphics, bad controls, and sexist content. I totally disagree on this – modern gamers just don’t get it. It’s a classic first person shooter, move and shoot through level after level, just with stunning looking graphics.

Duke Nukem 3D was always full of bikini clad women and sexist attitude; it’s what gave the series a uniqueness – Duke Nukem Forever just takes it up a notch with better rendered women and ramping up the testosterone. It’s a tongue-in-cheek series meant for fun, meant for men.

Conclusion

I am thoroughly enjoying Duke Nukem Forever. It is surprisingly one of the best modern games I have played – perhaps because of my love of older style gaming. It’s not perfect, but its a total blast.

Come get some!

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Windows version


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