Publisher: 3D Realms, Triptych Games, Gearbox Software, Pirahna Games Rated: Mature Released Year: 2011
- PC ~ Disk Operating System
- Apple / Macintosh
- Sony Playstaion 3
- Microsoft Xbox 360
- First-Person Shooter
12 years have passed since Duke's last encounter with the aliens. However, they have returned. Despite being under orders not to engage them under the guise of a possible peace process, soon enough the aliens prove they are only interested in payback.
"It's not great, but I do not believe it is as bad as others say it is."
Plot / Concept: 2 / 10
The verdict: A bad story. Not pitiful or a complete total bomb, but straight out bad. It is filled with overkill sexism (Towards both genders, not just to girls) and enough inappropriate innuendo to turn off a significant number of potential players. I will not give it a bomb-rating, because there is enough positive content in it keep from saying this game deserves it, so I will settle with a two.
To note something very important: Duke Nukem has always come across to me as a Hollywood-ized stereotype play of a Hollywood-ized stereotype (So Hollywood-ized stereotype^2). With that in mind, it is important to take absolutely nothing about this game seriously, which would fit the mindset of the developers. Trying to take anything at face value would likely spoil your means to see just what the game makers were trying to accomplish here: Nothing. They wanted it to be bad, extreme, overkill sexist, somewhat like the 3D version of the 90's. While they delivered on the theme, the content behind it felt a bit hollow.
The story is about as basic as you can get: A re-hashed out version of the 3D story where aliens arrive and are literally begging Duke to kick them in the behind. Along the way, many girls and kidnapped and used to help further the invasion. Probably the only twist happens earlier on in the game when you are ordered by the US president not to engage the alien forces, though that quickly proves to be impossible to follow. I could probably get into a larger argument about the rationale behind many of the supporting characters, but safe to say, If you played Duke Nukem 3D, you are missing very little with this game.
The game attempts a lot of humor along the way. Some of it works, but much of it feels out of place... (Again, helps not to take anything seriously). A couple examples come to mind:
- When Duke encounters his 'babes' in the alien hive, he makes a "Very" out of place joke to them seconds before they have a tragic ending. At lease he swore vengeance for them and was still bothered by their deaths in the DLC add-on campaign (Based on Dylan's reaction to a bad joke).
- Duke picks up something out of the toilet just to score an achievement (At least with that one, there is an in-joke during the load times).
Gameplay: 6 / 10
With DNF, you can do a number of different things:
- Play the campaign (Quite a long one, too, since that was the focus of this game)
- Multi-player (Treated more like an add-on). It becomes a Duke vs. Duke fest
- Check out your "Digs" to see what you have unlocked through multi-player (Interesting incentive)
- Lots of other little odds and ends you can view and unlock after beating the game
In Campaign you can choose the difficulty level that affects Duke's strength and defense levels, directly affecting how durable and how tough everything else is in the game. It does not affect enemy AI, number of enemies, traps, etc.
The combat structure in DNF feels 'waaay' too much like Halo and other Halo wannabe's. Duke suddenly goes from having an hidden arsenal at his disposal (90's style FPS gaming) to being down to a limit of two weapons (Four in the PC version), plus four Trip Mines and Pipe Bombs (Hopefully, it's not an age thing). You use your weapon and melee like Halo. You also have a shield system like Halo. In this game, however, it is called Ego. You also get to drive vehicles, like in Halo (Although getting to drive a toy car while shrunk is a bit amusing).
The load times for this game are insanely hideous. A wait of 15-30 seconds for each time the level needs to load is very consistent with the game, even if you die during the campaign. Also, as the game loads, a number of 'useful tips' like to appear along the bottom of the screen. My favourite was always (Paraphrasing), "If you fell off a cliff, it is likely your fault." ... Very useful, indeed... >_> (BTW: This is much less of an issue for the PC version).
Ego plays an important part in the game. It works as your shield in DNF. If your Ego is depleted your health it at risk. During gameplay, you can increase your Ego by doing things that would build your confidence (Beat a boss, winning a game), or stuff that gets Duke in a good mood (Reading certain magazines, working out), so it becomes important to interact with whatever is around you, if only to increase your Ego.
The add-on content to help push DNF into something that is more than an FPS is nice, though a lot of it could have used some polishing. Air Hockey and Pool are the worst offenders; The movement is very rugged and aiming is tricky. Pinball could have been designed to be less aggravating as it was too easy to lose your balls and end up with (As Duke puts it) balls of fail. All the add-on games are made so that by playing them you can increase your ego, so it is a necessary evil to beat them at least once each. Have fun with pool... :)
One really positive thing I like about the game is you are given no help along the way. No nav points, markers, beacons or any nonsense like that. A couple levels early on give you tutorials on how to play parts of the game, but beyond that, you get to figure out how to play with explosives, turrets, Shrinky Ray and Freeze Ray.
Controls: 7 / 10
If it looks like a Halo, and feels like a Halo, then it would make sense to have the controls act like a Halo game as well. There are a few buttons that feel out of place, like zoom, running, use of trip mines and pipe bombs. Still, anyone who is already familiar with FPS content should be able to use the controls on this game easily. Also, you can customize the controller settings to suit your style of FPS gameplay.
Movement of your character is a little clunky and rough. It is difficult to make any precise movements with the controls. Fortunately, you can change those settings. That can come in handy during some parts of the game (Like anything involving turrets).
Music: 7 / 10
One thing I will say about the music is it works as a mood setter AND there is plenty of it. It does not appears in fits and spurts like in many FPS games. Only during some gameplay does nothing happen, but the music works for more tense moments. The heavy music suits the 'badass' theme for Duke and the boss battle music tracks work great.
My big complaint would be:I would have preferred to hear more variety in the music.
Sound Effects: 9 / 10
Have to give this one a pretty solid award. John St. John as Duke Nukem is what makes the difference. So many of his quotes and comments are spot on, allowing for a more amusing push through the levels. The rest of the cast (overall) are pretty good, too. This does not come across as some poorly dubbed effort. Monsters sound evil, weapons sound powerful, pinball sounds like pinball. Other stuff... Probably better not to say on here... ;-;
Graphics: 7 / 10
I liked the graphics, for the most part. The alien stuff felt exactly that: alien. The weird growths that come out of the walls look good. The human buildings felt convincing enough. Duke looks as scary and badass as always. His 'babes' and all the 'babes' he meets up with look well-designed enough.
One thing that bothered me was the animation of the people. A lot of them felt... robotic and forced, like they were physically struggling to lug themselves around in an awkward way. It was painful to watch many of the characters move around. At least they got the alien movements well enough.
Low-Moderate. The campaign is pretty intense when you play the more difficult levels, and there is multi-player deathmatches.