Duke Nukem Forever Appears To Be A Full-Priced Mess

Duke Nukem Forever Appears To Be A Full-Priced Mess

Some time on Saturday, as I was playing Duke Nukem Forever on my Xbox 360, I realised that in all the conversations I’ve had with people from Gearbox Software—the company that heroically salvaged this game from it’s decade-plus sink toward oblivion—no one ever said this game would be wonderful.

They reveled in accomplishing the impossible task of bringing a presumably dead game back to life. They rejoiced in gaining control of the Duke character, of giving Duke what he deserves—namely freeing the character from the drag of gaming’s longest-running gag, the interminable development cycle of Duke Nukem Forever.

Not once did the Gearbox people promise me the game would great. Outrageous? Sure. A great game? Or even a good game? Nope.

They were content to confirm that the game was… a game. A real game that real people would be able to play in 2011. That was stunning enough information. Judging from the first few levels I’ve played of DNF, it also seems to be as far as honest hype could take them.

I was going to write about how unpleasant my time with Duke Nukem Forever has been so far—how primitive its technology appears to be, how clunky it animates, how crude it looks, how uninteresting its level design is, how forever-long its load times are—but I decided to simply show you with the video atop this story. (Note: If you’re a fan of the Duke character, you *might* like this game more than I did.)

The people who accomplished the task of bringing Duke Nukem Forever to life should be proud of doing what so many had failed to do for so long. But pending a dramatic improvement in the game’s latter levels, which will embarrass this initial impression into being the inverse of some unimaginably glowing Kotaku review, what we’ve got here is no magnificent resurrection. It’s more of reanimated corpse, a shambling, shivering thing of the past, thought dead but now brought back.

Apologies to any Dead Rising or Resident Evil games coming out later in 2011, but for its initial exhibition of something old and seemingly dead brought stumbling into the present—decayed parts still on its skeleton—Duke Nukem Forever is my early nominee for Zombie Game of the Year.

Duke Nukem Forever is out now in Europe and Australia. It will be released in North America on June 14.


  • Given I never had much fun with the original game and even less with its odd console sequels, and I found the whole Duke Nukem character more tiresome than hilarious, I’m pretty sure I can give this game a pass.

    Shame though, I was going to get this as a Gearbox game. Hopefully they get back to Borderlands 2.

    • DNF was finished by Gearbox, yes. But it’s basically a very old 3D Realms design for a game that somehow survived in cryosleep until the modern era… otherwise known as a decade later… So I wouldn’t call this a ‘Gearbox game’ per se.

      I would like to see a Gearbox Duke Nukem game… but I’m not sure it’ll happen after everyone hating on this game so much.

  • Quote from Randy Pitchford –

    “First of all it is great, it’s very, very entertaining, it’s very fun. It’s also Duke frickin’ Nukem frickin’ Forever. One could not be a gamer in this world without consuming that and having that experience. You’re just missing out on an entire, ginormous aspect of video games history if you fail to participate. This game’s gonna ship and we’re all going to be there, so it doesn’t matter what the score is.”

  • I think most people will buy this game. The only problem is everyone, myself included, will wait until it is $10 on Steam or on a bargain table somehwere.

  • I went into Duke with low expectations; everything we’ve learned about it throughout the extended development cycle has screamed ‘problematic’. As such, I’ve been finding it interesting from a historical/game design perspective (it’s a great example of just how far we’ve come in lighting and level design), but horrible as a game.

    Since I’m not sure how long my meta interest is going to sustain me, my hope is that it does improve as we get further into the game, as presumably we start to get into sections that were less and less complete on handover to Gearbox.

  • When you can’t find a single review online the day a game is released here, then you can pretty much guarantee that the developer/publisher is trying to hide something, and get as many release date sales as possible before the crappy reviews come in. That in itself was enough to ensure I wasn’t going to buy this game.

  • Don’t say it’s a bad game, its exactly what it should be. You can tell it’s a direct sequel to Duke Nukem it plays exactly the same as it did 12 years ago. The problem is that it’s a dated game. Doom 3 can’t say that it plays nearly identical to Doom 2. You’re an idiot to have thought it was going to be any better than what it is.

  • good enough review, i finished on pc and thought it wasnt very good either, too much hype for a shitty end product…

  • The worst thing about Duke Nukem Forever is it made Randy Pitchford look like a ginormous douche, for even hinting that this was gonna be special.

    Well, I guess he’s right, in a way.

  • I actually like it. I think it’s funny (albeit over the top toilet humour) and it plays well. It does feel unfinished and unpolished and the load times are terrible, but it is fun.

  • I’m gonna go ahead and guess you played it on the XBox, right?

    Seems fine so far on the PC. Or maybe I just have lower expectations graphically. Who knows

    • Doh. Read the article properly, dipshit.

      Yeah, heard some bad stuff about the XBox port that doesn’t seem to be present in the PC version. Might want to hit up some PC players and check that out before condemning the game

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