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Simon Bull, content editor
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
At the end of a long hard day you don’t always want to settle down in front of a thought-provoking documentary or heavy-going drama.
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PC (PS3 reviewed)
Verdict: 5 out of 10 – Duke’s back after many years. He’s hardly been worth the wait but for a short burst of (really) old-school first-person shooter action, this does the job.
Sometimes all you want is a couple of hours of mindless fun, so you grab a dumb action movie to scratch that itch.
With all the subtlety and maturity of a fart app on iPhone, Duke Nukem Forever meets the same need in video game form.
Just like you put an action flick on for the guns and bangs not the depth of plot, so you put Duke Nukem Forever on for some primal old-fashioned first-person shooter action.
It’s shallow, juvenile, unsophisticated and puerile. But whatever you say about it, Duke Nukem Forever serves a purpose.
This is a game from a bygone era. It’s as if, in the minds of the developers at least, gaming hasn’t moved forward at all in the ridiculously long 14 years it’s taken to get this game finished.
Duke Nukem Forever is plucked straight from the 90s - cue unrefined graphics, linear structure, running around empty corridors, annoyingly long loading times and oh-so-basic mechanics with an almost complete lack of bells and whistles. I can imagine more modern shooters such as Call of Duty Black Ops or Crysis 2 sneering at Duke Nukem Forever and having a good laugh at its expense.
The game is almost as outdated as its vulgar, brash and overly macho hero Duke, who seems to be a homage to every cheesy 80s action hero. He sticks out as much as Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man after being frozen for 30 years.
Duke takes steroids and drinks beer. He’s a chauvinistic pig with the intellect and charm of an ape. It’s a wonder this meat-head can come out with some mildly amusing one-liners rather than splutter out a series of grunts.
But despite his many personal flaws, Duke is still the ideal vehicle for this over-the-top shoot-aliens-to-save-the-world caper.
While the game and its central character are both relics stuck in the past, the simple premise of roaming around armed to the teeth blasting monsters into oblivion is as stupid yet fun as it was decades ago in the early days of gaming.
From its graphics to its weapons and every other key element it can be judged on, there are many better shooters out there but Duke stands its ground by not taking itself seriously and just being about the action.
There are some tedious puzzle and platform segments between the bang-bang bits, but for the most part DNF puts solid aim-n-fire shooting controls into your hands and simply says here’s a gun, here’s a monster, have some fun.
As well as single-player Duke, there are also several online multiplayer modes to get your weapon out for, including versions of deathmatch and king of the hill.
From a technical point of view, actually from every point of view, Duke Nukem Forever isn’t a particularly good game. It’s got many issues and is about as low quality as modern games come.
The main thing in its favour, however, is how it provides such simple brainless fun. From its primitive run-n-gun action to its politically incorrect humour, DNF is a guilty pleasure - the kind of game you might slip on when nobody else is around.
These days games are all about state-of-the-art graphics, interactive experiences and emotional attachment to characters. Duke Nukem cannot compete on these terms but what it has going for it is being the kind of game which allows you to leave your brain at the door before playing and revert back to your immature teenage self.
Sometimes we all want that, at least for a little while.