In my time of playing, and reading about videogames, i’ve seen my fair share of games get a complete and total reviews ass pounding. There are games that deserved to get a complete shoeing in the review stakes (yet oddly, didn’t, like when MGS4 finally cast off any last vestiges of interactivity and become the worlds longest most boring and horribly acted film). But then you have a game like Duke Nukem Forever, a game which it seems its not just popular to hate, but almost cool to hate. And not just to hate it, but to wish physical harm on those involved with the game. Duke Nukem Forever, does not deserve this much hate.

Poor Duke Nukem Forever. At this stage i dont need to have to explain its troubled development to you, you already know it. It’s the game that was scrapped, redeveloped, redesigned, and went through more reinventions than Madonnas haggard face.
The signs are all over it that it’s a game whos development was like that of a troubled child, passed from foster home to foster home in an attempt to stop him from setting fire to bins and pissing his bed. There’s levels where you can clearly see 3D Realms had been playing Half Life 2, or how they mustv’e fired up a game or two of Halo and (retardedly) thought theyd’ ‘borrow’ that games 2 weapon limit and recharging health system.
Then there’s the graphics. Jesus Christ. How Gearbox thought they could get away with charging full price for a game that is literally more offensive to look at than watching a Bernard Manning stand up routine is beyond me. It looks ugly. And despite having graphics that wouldve shamed it had it been released in 2006, it performs as well as a freshly coked up Amy Winehouse.
Then theres the ‘controversy’. And i’ll freely admit that i found the alien abortion whack a mole game to be quite tasteless. However people crying a river of rage filled tears over the fact that you can (if you want) shoot women who are for all intents and purposes, zombified, need to actually check between their legs and see if they still have testicles, or if they’ve shrivelled to prunes and poofed out of existence in a wisp of pot pourri fragrance.

People have accused Duke of losing touch with what made Duke Duke, way back in Duke 3D in 1996. For these people (and for people, read: retards) i’ve compiled this handy list of things Duke does in Duke 3d, and things he does in DNF, which are apparently totally out of character with Duke.

In Duke Nukem 3d, Duke does the following:

  • Pays Strippers to strip
  • Kills women who have been cocooned by Aliens
  • Rips an aliens head off and shits down its neck
  • Kicks a field goal with a giant Alien Eye

Yet despite this, most reviewers seem to have concocted a mental image of Duke Nukem over the last 13 years as being some sort of loveable scamp

Duke Nukem circa 1996

Which is why they’re crying their eyes out over how grossly offensive it is that in DNF, Duke:

  • Hangs out in a strip club (with strippers!)
  • Kills women who have been cocooned by Aliens
  • Rip’s an Aliens eye out and pisses in the hole
  • Kicks a field goal with an Aliens eye

Yes, completely out of character and so very Un-Duke.

Now lets take a look at some of the absolute bullshit the reviewers are saying. We’ll start with this gem from Destructoid:

For a game that prides itself on being a big, dumb shooter, you’ll be surprised to note that the game features comparatively little shooting.

Now, i’m not saying Jim Sterling is full of shit, but i will say if this is what he actually thinks, he’s a fucking retard. Who is full of shit. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he played the game by looking at the box and imagining what the game is like, because in the 7 hours it took me to finish DNF, most of my time was spent either shooting shit, or driving a monster truck.

After the rehash of the Duke Nukem 3D boss fight at the start of the game, it’ll take thirty minutes before you’re even given a gun.

Erm, yeah Jim, that’s called an introductory sequence. Sadly not all games can be Modern Warfare, and start off by letting you Nuke a continent or force some ethnic minorities to eat glass or some shit. What Jim fails to mention is that while your’e running around Gunless, obviously having the completely miserable time that being gunless infers, youre actually wandering around Duke’s hotel & casino, interacting with a ton of enjoyable little distractions, signing autographs for starstruck kids, playing pool, beating up a Christan Bale impersonator having an on set freak out, driving remote controlled cars around obstable courses, etc etc.

One level in particular takes place in an alien nest where Earth’s women are being inseminated by giant penises. The women writhe and moan in a fairly humiliating fashion, and they regularly sob with no small amount of implied misery. In essence, the women look like they’re getting raped. In fact, they are. That’s the big joke of the level. The aliens are raping the women to create babies. Now, I’m a fan of offensive humor, but the “joke” in this level is so morbidly presented, so dark and downright unsettling, that I simply do not know if Gearbox intends for us to laugh or to throw up. I certainly found I was in danger of doing the latter over the former.

That’s because youre a fucking pussy, Jim.
Now, if you read that paragraph and thought, “my god, this game has women being raped? And thats supposed to be funny??”, you’d be justified in thinking that DNF is the most offensive game of all time. Because thats what Jim wants you to think. But if you’d actually played that level, you’d know that this statement is a complete fucking fabrication. There are no giant penises inseminating women, unless Jim unlocked some horriffic easter egg that  i missed. The women look like theyre getting raped? Again, pure bullshit. Im beginning to think Jim doesn’t actually know what rape is. The women are wrapped up Aliens-style in a cocoon, and yes they sob and moan, as you might expect someone to do if they were about to have an alien burst through your fucking chest. I guess they all shouldve been singing a musical number from the sound of fucking music to denote how happy and un-rapey they feel at that point. They definitely shouldnt have been sobbing and moaning, cause obviously, that implies theyre getting the shit raped out of them. My outstanding memory of that level was not “god damn, this is awful. These women are being raped. By giant penises!“. It was “I should shoot that woman before she explodes in a shower of alien enemies”. Im guessing again, that Jim forgot that this all happened in Duke 3D, in 1996, albeit in less impressive graphics.

Another, somewhat baffling, criticism comes from Gamespot:

there are frequent stretches in whichnothing is happening. The game slows to a crawl constantly. Take, for example, a series of levels in which you drive Duke’s four-wheeler. In these sequences, you drive over aliens and use ramps to jump across chasms. You see a lot of the same brown canyons and cliffs in these sections, and on scripted occasions, the rover stalls and you have to get out and search for gas cans.

This is literally the equivalent of complaining that in  Halo, you have to drive a warthog occasionally, and look at the same green hills, and occasionally stop to shoot stuff, and it somehow equates to ‘nothing happening’. This makes it sound like the truck drives itself while you do nothing more than watch and wait for it to stop. Its a fucking driving section. Where you drive a monster truck. It’s not ‘nothing happening’.

Duke Nukem, doing nothing. Just some boring shit like killing a giant alien on a football field. Run of the mill shit. Nothing much happening.

While i think it’s a bit of a cop out to say “you cant review DNF the same way you would a modern game”, it’s somewhat true. You really cant compare this to Modern Warfare, or Battlefield. Because in essence, its a game from 1998, wrapped up, rather sloppily, in a modern day engine. You may as well review a copy of Doom running a high resolution texture mod and compare it to CoD. Of course it’s going to come out worse off. Yet it seems like most reviews out there actually seem to expect a game that was rewritten more times than the line “hands in the air/just dont care” has on a Will Smith album, to somehow come out and wow us with gameplay and graphics comparable to any of its modern day peers.

Duke Nukem has a raft of issues, from its shonky performance, to its outdated humour (although the rabid Commando fan in me grinned like a lunatic when i heard Duke rip off the “remember when i promised to kill you last? I LIED!” line from that film. It’s also worth noting that Dukes most famous line about kicking ass and chewing bubblegum was taken from ‘They Live’, a film released almost a decade before Duke 3D, so even that games humour was old). But Duke Nukem is not a game that deserves scores of 3/10 (Eurogamer) or 2/10 (destructoid), much in the same way it doesn’t deserve a score of anything higher than a 6, 7 tops. (and a 7 would be generous). Consider this, Homefront, a game that most players would be hard pressed to describe as anything other than ‘a load of complete bollocks’, and containing barely any gameplay other than walking in a straight line, scored a 6/10 from Eurogamer. Duke may have its problems, but there’s more imagination on display, more interactivity, and more fun to be had in the first half hour of Duke than in the entirety of something as insipid as Homefront.

It’s a painfully average game, and had the name Duke Nukem not been attached to it, i’m almost certain the game would’ve reviewed slightly better and been forgotten about a week later. For some reason, criticisms of Duke have been harsher than any other title i can remember recently, wether it’s a reaction to 2K games holding back on review copies as they knew the game wasn’t up to scratch, or maybe it’s reviewers seeing who can give the lowest score and most scathing review in an attempt to attract readers, i dont know.
What i do know is, that having played and completed DNF, it’s far from being the worst FPS iv’e ever played, and far from being the best. And at least 3 points higher than a 3/10.