Duke Nukem Forever: The Nitpicks

Yesterday, a package showed up at my door. It’s a cute story: back in 2000, I had bet a friend that Duke Nukem Forever would come out after he got married. It did, and he owed me a copy of the game.

I hope he stole it.

I beat the game in about ten hours, finishing it just an hour ago, and honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever hated a video game more than this one. It’s not even that it’s blatantly mired in 1995: games from 1995 can still be fun. It’s the entire sensibility. Duke Nukem would be ashamed of this game, and ten bucks says there’s going to be some serious attempts to forget this game ever existed going forwards.

To the nitpicks:

  • First of all, and most criminally, this game isn’t funny. Actually, I take that back: Duke’s reaction when you pick up the turd actually is funny. It is the one laugh you’ll get out of this game.
  • Unlike most reviewers, I’m not going to abuse the game for being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. because honestly, it doesn’t earn the outrage. It’s like beating up an old guy for crapping his Depends: he can’t help it, even if he knows better. That said, none of the attempts at jokes would make even the most puerile ten-year-old laugh. I mean, we’re talking “gay guy on cigarette package labelled Faggs” and “dog dissection guide in Chinese restaurant” level immaturity. It’s too stupid to be funny.
  • That said, the game’s attitude towards women is more than a little off-putting. Yeah, guys, I really needed to hear aliens raping strippers. That was missing from my life. And thanks for having two women plead with me to save them by insisting they’ll lose their babyweight! I wanted to feel slimy and disgusting!
  • Duke’s old weapons are like old friends…but mostly they remind you that you could use the weapons in another game, with better level design.
  • Speaking of which, who designed these levels, and can we retroactively fire him? Out of a cannon? Into the sun? Seriously, what the hell guys?

Maybe it’s the fact that I just finished playing “L.A. Noire”, a flawed game but one undeniably complex, detailed, engaging and…oh, yeah, adult. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up since “Duke Nukem 3D” came out and rocked my world nearly half my life ago. Maybe it’s because the game itself just wasn’t going to be good no matter what was done, because of the tortured development process.

Anyway you slice it, though, “Duke Nukem Forever” is freaking terrible. And that’s just sad.