Friday, June 17, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever, What A Meltdown

So Duke Nukem Forever is finally out.  UNBELIEVABLE!  Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V this which I said months ago:

...I remember saying more than a month ago a quote from my Split/Second; Blur; Hydro Thunder entry: 

"...For me, just wait it out for the big fish, like the AWESOME DAYTONA USA COMPILATION coming when Duke Nukem Forever is released."
Well, the game's released and I don't see any new Daytona game so that's a failed attempt at prophecy (Model3 emulator, perhaps???).

Anyway, I haven't played the game yet (I've played Duke Nukem 3D tho), but the initial reviews are rather bleak.  Gamespot: 3.0Giant Bomb: 2/5Eurogamer: 3.0.  PC version scored slightly higher than the console versions.  This game's only marginally better than that masterpiece, Hour of Victory.  And it doesn't help that a PR group is threatening to blacklist reviewers who give the game bad scores (in other words you trash our games, we won't provide you with demos/early releases/other goodies).

Duke Nukem Forever's abbreviation is DNF which is ironic because it also stands for "Did Not Finish."

An early poster by 3D Realms, the first of four devs who would work on DNF.

Now DNF was one of those games I really wanted to succeed.  Well, this is Duke Nukem we're talking about.  In a world full of generic soldiers, bishounen, and cartoon characters, the Duke is a breath of fresh air.  And I don't necessarily condone everything he is involved with (strippers, bathroom humor, etc.) but damn this dude is the man.

The problem with DNF is that it really should've been released some time around 2000-2004.  Coming out nearly a decade too late, you gotta ask whether or not people dislike the game because it is bad gameplay-wise or because they dislike the "old-school" gameplay.  I actually sat through Giant Bomb's Quick Play (all 52 minutes of it) and they just about ripped every single thing in the game.  Let me share what I've learned here.


The first thing that jumps out at me is that some of the retro mechanics are gone.  The only thing reminiscent from old Duke is that you don't have to look down the sights of your gun.  On the other hand, you can only hold two weapons at once, have regenerating health, and don't have infinite sprint.  Why is that?  They make Duke look incredibly gimped here--rather than run in and blast guys, you have to resort to the old CoD/Halo mechanic of peeking out every once in a while to get in bursts.

The only neat feature they added was the "Ego" bar which acts as your health.  By doing manly throughout the campaign like checking out strippers, lifting weights, winning at table hockey (yeah), your max health increases.

Damn, it just pisses me off that they ditched those mechanics.  They say that FPSes have "evolved" since then but usually the context of that word means it improves in quality (i.e. Mario's graphics evolved from the NES to the Wii).  But here, I want vintage run-and-gun gameplay.  What we have here is Duke trying to adapt.  Pathetic.

At least you're not looking through the friggin iron sights!  Thank God.

Okay, now about the campaign.  Well, like the old Duke Nukem, you're wandering through levels shooting bad guys.  The main complaint here is that there's not enough enemies to fight.  Sometimes it can get really awkward just walking around a desolate location holding some big-ass gun that you don't need to use.  In these sections, there's platforming, underwater, puzzle, hell, even driving sections.  For some of these sections, you've been shrunk down and Duke actually speaks in his helium voice.  There's also interactive objects like computers and urinals...these things can be interesting but even the reviewers find a way to complain about those too.

I don't know why there's so much disdain for these because they would've been perfect acceptable 10+ years ago (hell, it was accepted back in Half-Life 2!!), but now people would rather just be funneled down the same narrow path shooting bad guys like in Call of Duty.  While the campaign is actually quite similar to Duke Nukem 3D's, it's probably worse than before.  The non-combat sections drag on for too long.  Shooting bad guys isn't very fun here.  Stuff gets repetitive very quickly.  Long load times between levels and dying really hurt the fun too (think Sonic 2006 all over again).

Another major problem with the game is the graphics.  Yes, people are ready to lash out at this game because the graphics look like an Xbox game--I know, it doesn't bother me for that reason.  But the art design is abysmal in some places.  Incredibly dim and unsaturated hues just don't appeal in any generation of gaming.  Also, the textures have these really glossy and strange effects applied to them as if it was a last ditch effort by the devs to add zing to the visuals but all it does it make it worse.  And finally some jittery framerates on top of all of this.

TURRIBLE colors!

And probably the most disappointing thing about Duke is that he, as Jeff Gerstmann put it, is like your 40+ year old uncle who used to be "cool" back then but is just a lousy bum now.  Yeah, a lot of Duke's one-liners are Family Guy-ish (blurt out an obvious reference and it's supposed to be funny) or just plain weird (giggling when slapping these alien wall boobs...).  He also missed a few chances to zing some popular games--for instance, if he could hold more than two guns, he could say, "I'm not some p**** who carries two guns" or something like that.  Instead, it's too damn cop-outish like he sees Master Chief's helmet and says something like "I don't need that" and it's like ugggghhh...

But seriously, come on, it's the Duke.  Hearing Jon St. John's voice again is a breath of fresh air (otherwise, you'd have to play Sonic Adventure and listen to Big the Cat...who is voice by the same guy).  Yes, I know that Bulletstorm has the same irreverent humor, but I have no interest because it's not Duke Nukem.  YOUR ALL A BUNCH OF HAKERS.  Go back to your Master Chief and Marcus Fenix crap.

More Interesting Than The Most Interesting Man In The World??

Multiplayer looks decent but it's only eight-players max.  In Giant Bomb's review, by the time they got to Xbox Live, they were so disgusted with the game, saying that this is the kind of MP you'd get if there was a void for the last 15 years of FPS history (in other word, game's too outdated).  And why is that necessarily a bad thing?  Would you honestly prefer if DNF's multiplayer were like Call of Duty's with the camping Ghost users with the Silenced Famas?

Anyway, DNF isn't for everybody, but there's actually quite a few people who have had a blast with it--certainly moreso than Call of Duty's cookie-cutter campaigns.  So for that, I'm happy for those who are satisfied by it.  This game's still a letdown mostly because it's all disjointed.  As Eurogamer put it, take a look at the credits that go on for ten minutes because of all the people that worked on it.  I don't think anybody could've turned DNF into a masterpiece under the circumstances it was under.  Regardless, Hail To The King, Baby!!!

It's the Megadeth theme song!!

Big guns and hot babes...

America ain't going nowhere as long as we have THE DUKE.

1 comment:

  1. Duke Nukem Forever is awesome, just the way it is!! It's a 1999-2001 era game, finally brought to us. It has issues, but still is fun! DukeNukem3D is still better overall gameplay wise. = )