First Impressions: Duke Nukem Forever

Posted: June 3, 2011 in PC, PS3
Tags: , , , , , ,

Who Wants to Wait Forever?

Well, I ended up in the First Access Club as a result of buying the Borderlands Game of the Year edition. I was actually surprised by it: at that point I had completely written off Duke Nukem Forever, perhaps believing it existed in one of the Area 51 bunkers or in the belly of the Loch Ness monster. Oh, Chad of little faith.

Today I downloaded the demo. I looked from my November 1997 Issue of PC Gamer to the screen; indeed, Duke was finally back.

Of course, on start up, the game tried to give me a heart attack: For some reason, in full screen mode, the game won’t play (this game uses the Unreal 3 Engine – I have Mass Effect, BioShock, and Daggerdale all running the same engine full screen at maxed settings: fix this crap ASAP, Gearbox!) so I had to complete the game in windowed mode. Seriously, I thought Gearbox was pulling the most sadistic and least funny joke ever.

But on to the game. The demo begins with a reenactment of the final moments of Duke Nukem 3D (not its official expansion for whatever reason) with Duke up against the Cycloid Emperor. The game gives you the Devastator weapon and lets you go to town before kicking a field goal with the Emperor’s eyeball. This was a satisfying start, but the demo allowed further play in a later level, which starts you out in a monster truck. This stage was much meatier, letting you fight it out with Duke’s old pig cop enemies and experiment with more weapons (my favorite of which is still the Ripper chaingun). However, it also features some driving with incredibly iffy controls, and other than the first area it’s pretty bereft of enemies. I think it gives a pretty good feel for what to expect, and this is probably not a good thing.

It's time to kick ass and...draw pictures!

Good, Bad…He’s the Guy with the Gun

First off, the interactivity that made Duke Nukem 3D stand out from the rest of the FPS games of the mid-’90s is still in full force. You can relieve yourself at a toilet, drink from a water fountain, and even doodle on a dry-erase board. The action is solid(when it’s there, I spent more time running corridors in the demo than shooting anyone) but the guns don’t feel or sound meaty (the shotgun does almost no damage outside of point-blank range). You also get to ride a mine cart around, which is a fun way to see the scenery.

The Shrink Ray is back!

On the other hand, it’s unfortunately a lot more modern than I was expecting. You can only carry two weapons at a time along with a complement of pipe bombs, and the “quick kick” with the Mighty Foot is conspicuously absent. I admit that I was hoping you’d be able to carry a ridiculous complement of weapons as you could in the original, and I’m a bit disappointed by that. Also, there are quick-time-events requiring mashing of the spacebar. It seems, too, that the aliens from Duke3D are the enemies here; I thought Duke’s old nemesis Dr. Proton was supposed to be returning? Oh well, it was a short demo.

So I admit that for me, the demo is a mixed bag. Overall, my biggest complaint is that it doesn’t feel so much like a sequel to Duke Nukem 3D as it does a modern revamp. It’s distinctly underwhelming and unpolished, and I’m guessing this reflects on the game as a whole. It doesn’t give me a good reason to plunk down $60 bucks for a copy. While I’m disappointed with its modern trappings, it’s pretty cool to actually see Duke Nukem Forever existing, even if it does kinda suck…it’s just setting in how long it’s been since it was announced. Whoa. I feel old now. Thanks for that, Gearbox.

  1. Shishimo says:

    To confirm I also can not run the game at full screen and i have run all the games you listed that use Unreal Engine at their fullest i also found that no matter what video settings i changed the games appearance didn’t really change at all. So i think there is currently a major video issue with this demo.

    As for your review you hit it dead on i was disappointed at only carrying 2 weapons but it still felt like Duke (mostly because of audio and the over the top everything) and to think I have waited 13ish years for this it’s crazy… but it’s DUKE!

    Hopefully they fix the video issues for comparison sake, because maybe its a driver issue or card issue;

    I’m running a 2.5ghz AMD Athlonx2 (Dual Core), 5GB Ram, Nvidia Geforce GTX 460 1GB VRAM and I have the latest (released June 1st) video drivers.

  2. Duke Nukem says:

    I’m running it with a measly NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M with an i7 740QM processor and 6GB RAM. How can it not work for you? It does lag with anti-aliasing, but I can max out everything else and it looks good enough to me. Anyhoo, yup, carrying 2 weapons was disappointing as is the length of the demo’, but I guess it leaves you wanting more so I guess it is a success in that respect. The lack of a kicking action is a very good point. I picked up those things straight away when I played it. The shrink ray is designed with the kick in mind so I was surprised that you can’t kick. Hopefully these are demo-only limitations. ALSO, Duke doesn’t say “where is it” when you click ‘E’ on the keyboard. That line is classic. Why did they remove it? In addition, the into’ video looks too dated. I hope they freshen up the visuals and make it look better in the full game. Overall, it is a fun game and has promise.

  3. Unless they’re going to patch things within a week of release (or another ridiculously short timeframe), I think we’re pretty much looking at a finished product.

  4. Duke Nukem says:

    Yeah, you’re probably right. I can understand a tactical aspect being introduced the 2 gun thing, but Duke is all about sheer over-the-top extravagance. I dunno, it’s kind of a letdown, but by no means a game killer. I just think they could have raised the difficulty other more creative ways or simply by improving the AI without sacrificing a key attribute of the series. The demo’ was short and sweet though and I’m confident that I’ll enjoy the game, however, perhaps my expectations were a bit too high. This is one of those rare instances where that can be justified!

  5. Duke Nukem says:

    Aim-assist = lame

    You can’t throw the pipe-bombs far enough

    Visuals are disappointing, but acceptable [14 years damn it!]

    Shotgun is too weak

    No boot kick – fun sucked out of shrink ray as boot kick is a automatic thing now if you go close to a ‘tinyfied’ alien = lame

    You can only carry two guns at a time = lame. If they wanted to up the difficulty this was a bad choice. Better AI would have been more suitable.

    Regenerative health a.k.a EGO = lame

    Apart from that it’s the Duke Nukem we all know and love and I’ll still be getting it. Pretty basic, inexplicable mistakes though by Gearbox though.

  6. Duke Nukem says:

    Oh, I’ve commented here. Anyways, those are my latest thoughts.

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