14 years after its announcement, Duke Nukem Forever is finally here. But don’t play it. Well, at least that seems to be the consensus of the reviews. Joystiq puts it best, “Fail to the king, baby.” Ouch.
Reviews started hitting a few days back, post E3 of course, and now that the dust has settled, let’s dive in and see what everyone has to say about the vaporware turned game. Spoiler: People don’t have nice things to say.
PC Gamer — 80/100
Pop culture references are similarly out-of-date—even growing moldy. Considering that the freshest ones I caught date back all the way to 2004’s Team America: World Police (excluding reenactment of Christian Bale’s 2009 meltdown in the opening and a crack at Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare tacked on at the end), most of Duke’s one-liners were probably recorded in the early half of last decade. Though Duke still delivers several chuckles per level by quoting ’90s films like Pulp Fiction and Starship Troopers and jabbing at Halo, it’s noticeable that he’s been living under a rock for quite some time.
Joystiq — 2/5
It might not seem fair to hold DNF up to Epic’s foul-mouthed shooter, but the truth of the matter is that they’re both games released in modern times, priced at $60 and targeted at the same players. Any aspect of the game that might have been impressive in 1998 just seems practically laughable now – in all the wrong ways. There are problems with laggy aiming, dumb-as-doornails enemies, weak level design and even weaker presentation. There are puzzles that might have seemed “cool” way back when with their simple seesaw physics, but today they mainly feel like ways to artificially extend the game’s length, which comes in at just about 10-12 hours on normal difficulty.
IGN — 5.5/10
That Duke Nukem Forever looks dated, has framerate issues and long load times on Xbox 360 maybe shouldn’t be surprising, and though the grinding guitar music is entirely appropriate considering the subject matter, it’s not catchy enough to stick in your head. Aside from serving as an end point to an overlong development cycle, there’s nothing remarkable about Duke Nukem’s return.
Eurogamer — 3/10
(Note: This is the most complete review I could find)
<blockquoteAnd it's here that the game plays its solitary trump card. It's Duke Nukem, silly. He's supposed to be cheesy and dumb and shallow. Stop thinking about it. It's justabirrovfun.
Except it isn't. It's not fun at all. It's depressing. Duke's long-awaited comeback has turned him from genre innovator to wheezing has-been. In the time since his last outing, the likes of Halo, Battlefield, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have all gone from nothing to world-conquering, genre-defining juggernauts. Even within his own narrow niche, Bulletstorm and Gearbox's own Borderlands have taken Duke's irreverent shooter crown and made it their own, and it seems that after a decade and a half on the shelf, the self-proclaimed king no longer has the muscle to claim it back. Duke Nukem Forever attempts to turn back the clock, but can't even get that right.
Destructoid — 2/10
If you’re expecting a non-stop rollercoaster of violence, then prepare to be disappointed. Instead, look forward to making Duke jump around with horrible controls that see him sliding off and bouncing from surfaces more often than not. Look forward to mind-numbing sections in which you find barrels to weigh down cranes. Look forward to an entire level where you have no weapons or combat, and instead need to find three random items to give to somebody for no good reason whatsoever, before being rewarded with ten seconds of unnervingly animated lap dancing.
Videogamer — 4/10
uke Nukem is resolute and steadfast in its desire to be seen as risqué, yet its humour is virtually non-existent and the delivery is so desperate the game pains the player every time another flat line is delivered. Whereas Duke Nukem 3D was a fairly successful parody of the then-waning Stallone/Schwarzenegger action hero, Forever simply does its utmost to force you into a ceaseless parade of blunt profanity and dull toilet humour. One of the game’s notable features (2K Games even went as far as to produce a trailer for it) is that Duke can pick up a bit of poo from the odd toilet and throw it about, and that’s honestly about as funny as the game gets.