You know. I bet a lot of people out there are all ‘hey. You did Omikron. Why are you still doing this to yourself. Why do you keep playing bad games. I bet you have actual good ones. Or even mediocre. Please take care of yourself.’
And you know what? Yeah. Yeah I do. I have a lot. I have enough that this little weekly thing of mine could probably go on for way longer than it should because I am like a dragon who hoards video games instead of priceless artifacts and the heads of knights or whatever dragons hoard.
And sometimes, playing those games in my backlog means I have to do the bad ones too. Like this one.
Duke Nukem Forever is a game with a lot of history and I feel like I should at least cover a little of it for those unaware. Duke Nukem 3D was a hit. That’s the first important part you need to know. The kind of hit that makes people forget that there was ever a Duke Nukem 1 and 2. As a result, a sequel was announced in 1997. A few bits and pieces came out and then nothing happened for eight years, other than 3D Realms simply saying it would be released “when it was done”. In 2007, a trailer came out. Then more silence. Then 3D Realms downsized in 2009, Take-Two Interactive, the publisher, was getting increasingly pissed, a lot of legal things happened, and eventually development of the game passed hands to Gearbox Software.
And so, in 2011, after fourteen years (which cemented it as the longest game development in history), the game was released. I remember being excited at the time. I was a kid who grew up with Duke Nukem 3D and the idea of a brand new game was thrilling. I pre-ordered the special edition first chance I got. This is the only part of this entire process I don’t regret because that was a really good special edition. Anyway, once I got the game, I put playing it off for a while and, naturally, was bombarded with bad reviews shortly thereafter.
It was kind of heart-breaking.
And so, the game sat on my shelf and in my steam library, gathering both real and virtual dust. I moved onto other things. Better things. Much better things.
But I needed a game to play for this week and unfortunately this was the one that, for whatever reason, I felt like playing at the time.
The game literally opens with Duke pissing into a toilet and it’s. A hell of a way to set up your game. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be like a commentary on how ridiculous quick time events are or not, but if it is, it’s the first of a lot of issues and hypocrisy this game presents.
The game sort of seems like it wants to be a huge balls to the wall action game, parodying action games and movies while… Also completely playing them straight in the worst ways possible. At one point early on, the concept of needing key-cards is parodied, for example, as Duke says he doesn’t need one and just pulls the doors open. It keeps using moments like this and then turning around and doing the most cliche thing possible.
Instead of Duke’s entire arsenal, instead you can only carry two weapons at a time. Four in the PC version. You’re left going through linear, standard levels with a boss at the end. The writing feels like it was stuck back in the 90s along with Duke himself. Listen. I expect a certain amount of misogyny, toilet humor and goofy bad jokes. That kind of thing. It’s not that there’s a limit, in this case, or some kind of line, but more like there’s a kind of quality or standard you should at least attempt to hit instead of sitting around making bad jokes about action games, proceeding to adhere to those tropes, and trying to write what you think Duke would sound like in a modern day setting if he’d been locked in a room with a stack of Playboys from the 70s, the first few seasons of South Park and a vague summary of what happened in Duke Nukem 3D to go off of.
It’s not great. It’s not really fun, either.
Listen. I’m gonna do you a huge favor. Gearbox released Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour a while back with a whole new scenario thrown in, designed by the original team complete with all new dialogue and monsters and all kinds of cool stuff. Play that.
Don’t let your heart be broken like mine did.
At least the playing cards and the little statue I got with the special addition are still awesome.