Duke Nukem Forever review
Duke Nukem Forever was once the punch line to one of the longest running jokes in the games industry; stuck in development hell for over eleven years and with no fixed release date, it looked unlikely to ever see the light of day. With the odds stacked against it following the collapse of original development studio 3D Realms, the seemingly impossible has happened and Duke has finally made his return to the PC. Unfortunately, it isn’t exactly the triumphant comeback new developer Gearbox Software was hoping for.
Following on directly from Duke Nukem 3D, originally released in 1996, it’s immediately clear that little has been done to bring the franchise into the 21st century. After saving the world twelve years ago, Duke is now an international celebrity, living the high life in a Las Vegas penthouse with his identical twin pop star girlfriends. Unsurprisingly, however, players don’t spend much time enjoying the life of luxury before trouble inevitably reappears. The defeated aliens haven’t taken their loss lightly and return en masse to hit Duke where it hurts – by kidnapping the world’s women.
This incredibly thin plot sees Duke set off on an explosive trip through Las Vegas to hunt down the alien overlord and prevent a full-scale invasion. Locations vary from casinos, open highways, deserted ghost towns and alien hives, but the basic gameplay mechanics struggle to make the journey an exciting one. Monotonous driving and on-rails shooting sections separate the action set-pieces, which are let down by the simple opponent AI that rarely creates much of a challenge, even on the harder difficulty settings. None of the levels are particularly memorable due to the limited number of generic enemies that rarely require players to change their tactics mid-battle.
Gunplay itself is decent enough, if a little repetitive, but we struggled to understand why Duke is limited to carrying just two guns at a time; one of the most enjoyable parts of the older games was the huge arsenal of weaponry to choose from at any point, but throughout DNF the player is continually forced to switch between guns. However, with so many ammunition creates scattered throughout the game, there’s little reason to abandon the more powerful weapons when you run out of bullets. The only exception is during a boss fight, as explosives are the only weapons that can cause damage; luckily, every single fight has an RPG and ammunition crate conveniently placed close by, so you’ll be able to defend yourself regardless of what you were carrying to begin with.
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