Duke Nukem: Forever Preview Review
|REVIEWS - VIDEOGAME REVIEWS|
A whirlwind of swearing, blowjobs, and things blowing up; but yet still disappointing...
As we entered a large tent in the in the middle of gadget show live, NEC Arena, we were promptly asked for identification, and then greeted by two young girls in schoolgirl outfits as they handed out little flyers with all the enthusiasm of a dying snail. In contrast to the seemingly bored eye candy on parade, the Duke Nukem area was very brightly decorated, from tongue in cheek wall paintings to a life size model of the Duke himself. An everlasting earful of Prodigy rang round on a loop, giving the place a bit of a gym atmosphere. And fair play for looking so busy when sandwiched between the latest Mortal Kombat and Gears of War titles, but this could be somewhat expected when you consider the wait for this game spans well over a decade. It was certainly a pleasant surprise for all of the Shadowlocked team when we noticed the Duke had made the effort to come down, and had even brought some nice badges and smiling PR folk with him to keep spirits soaring.
Now, there has been a lot of cynicism from various directions in relation to Duke Nukem: Forever, be it fans of the ‘Duke’ or just those intrigued by the games seemingly endless development. And my own anxiety about how this game will turn out was inflated, pretty surprisingly, by the main PR guy for the game at the event; the ‘head duke’ if you will. He refused to give me any opinion or useful information about the games development, instead telling me to expect ‘lots of fun’, an answer he possibly borrowed from his schoolgirl colleagues. Basically, if the guy employed to create a buzz about the game doesn’t want to tell you anything it isn’t a great sign...is it?
Luckily for me, however, one of the Duke Nukem promo minions seemed to have a clue what was going on. In diplomatic fashion he told me: ‘Well after 12-14 years of development it was always going to be tough for the game to meet absolutely everyone’s expectations.’ It was refreshing to speak to someone aware of the anxiety with which many held this upcoming release, instead of trying to fob me off with a code for a free demo. Yet, despite his enthusiasm, I couldn't shake the feeling that his answer was further shaping the game for disappointment.
I was also able to find out that the rumours of the removal of ‘capture the babe’ after some controversy are untrue. Capture the babe is essentially capture the flag, where the flag has been replaced with a naked woman that you grab, and essentially rough up a little throughout the whole process. I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would this be controversial in the modern world we all reside in? But nevertheless it remains.
To top it off, I managed to secure a good play of the game. A close critique of the backdrop and storyline isn’t really needed for a game like Duke Nukem - we’re not dealing with a game that has tried to venture down the road of say Alan Wake, with its intense, film-esque storyline; but to summarise, aliens have come to earth to take the women and,wouldn’t you know it, it’s the ‘hot ones’ they’re going for, of course spiralling Duke into a tornado of rage. Beginning in nostalgic Duke fashion, he casually urinates in the locker room of a football stadium before running out onto the pitch to take down a 30 to 40 foot alien, and after doing so rips off his head to kick a glorious field goal.
What's more bizarre is the fact that, at this stage, the game actually looks at its best; with the night time graphics and featured thunderstorms a joy to encounter. Furthermore, it lifted my spirits, filtering out former ominous thoughts and replacing them with a general ‘I can't see what everyone was so worried about' sort of vibe.
Unfortunately this feeling doesn't last long, and when the first real level arrives, set in day time, the game’s lack of quality and sub-standard graphics shine through (literally...thanks to the artificial sunlight). The visuals of the desert terrain and the surrounding trees are of a very poor, disappointing standard for a 2011 game - a year that has already given us such visual splendours as Cyrsis 2 and Killzone 3 - and it did little to appease my trepidation.
On the whole, I found myself supplementing my rage by angrily killing some pig-looking things and then becoming bored, right there on the first part of the first level. For a game with an 18+ rating, Nukem's gameplay is worryingly childish, consisting of killing pig aliens before enjoying some form of odd, Charlie Sheen style scripting where Duke Nukem is ironically treating his ‘hot women’ with a degree of respect that even their alien abductors would probably cringe at.
While the graphics have been (not brilliantly) improved, the character of Duke Nukem himself is exposed as one dimensional and, more importantly, dated. In an age where successful shooting games become more realistic and tactical, this is the polar opposite. Like a lot of franchises been resurrected in the past few years, this title seems like it will follow suit with its underlying message; 'if you loved Duke Nukem in years gone by, then this title will probably appeal to you'.
The problem for me though - and I'm sure a number of other Duke Nukem fans - is that while I have grown up and moved on, Duke Nukem has not. Years ago he set a precedent, sticking two fingers up to the rules and showing a level of conformity that would make goths proud. Unfortunately, his revival is similar now to that of an aging rockstar - a penniless has been who has forgotten his morals and become just another cash-cow...and to think I wanted to be this guy when I was 13.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.