By Sam Coles:
The term worse game of all time is often thrown about within the gaming community where it loses all meaning, where I want to introduce the word hyperbole to them. This term is often used for the game Duke Nukem: Forever a game that was notorious for its long development cycle, where the forever in the title was rather appropriate by the time it came out. Was it as bad as people said it was back in 2011? No, but it’s not exactly a good game either, but there are worse games out there, I would just say it is mediocre more than anything.
Announced back in 1998, Duke Nukem: Forever was a direct sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, where at first in the concept stages it was pitched as a platformer, however they decided to make it an FPS due to the success of 3D. It was announced then silence, then in 2001 a trailer showing off gameplay in a new engine appeared which wowed people with its interactivity, with the tag line at the end saying “It will come out when it’s done”. Then after that it went completely quiet, the problem was with this project they kept scrapping it and starting again, mostly due to George Broussard seeing new engines every five minutes and going “I want that”. What he failed to see you can’t take what existing work you have in one engine and transfer it to another, that is not how it works.
Years and years went by with no word about the project, where Take 2 Interactive started to get very impatient with 3D Realms where they ended up suing them for incompetence. George Broussard wasn’t exactly professional about the situation, telling them to shove it where the sun don’t shine, but after that most of the 3D Realms staff left and the project was put in the ground, or so we thought. It was revived again in late 2010 where Gearbox Software picked up the project, where it released in May of 2011 and it was met with a resounding….. Meh.
Now does it deserve the backlash it got back in the day? No, but it is not a good game so don’t read too much into that statement. The problem was is that the game felt very dated, in terms of visuals, gameplay and Duke’s humour in general.
Let’s start with the gameplay; there was something that was just off with the aiming and movement in this game. It felt clunky and very floaty, now I wasn’t opposed to the regenerating health with Duke’s ego bar, I thought that was rather fitting as you had to increase it by doing “manly things”. No the gunplay just lacked impacted, where at certain points outside of the shotgun I wasn’t sure if I was hurting the enemies. All the guns were there from Duke 3D, but they didn’t have the same weight or impact, the Ripper Cannon sounded pathetic, it was like you were firing paper clips out of it. The only gun that felt good to use was the shotgun, because enemies reacted appropriately when you shot them. The game was also bombarded with gimmicks, with vehicle sections and mini games that barely worked with the floaty physics, I’m looking at you pinball mini game!
Visually this game wasn’t that great looking even for 2011; visuals are muddy and are lacking any sort colour with brown and grey hues that look like Modern Warfare and not Duke Nukem. It has really bizarre haze as if someone slapped Vaseline on the camera lens, which come to think it was like that with most games during that year *cough* Call of Juarez: The Cartel *cough*. It really didn’t look like a current gen game (at the time), it looked like a PS2 game in HD, now I know that is a hyperbolic thing to say but it did look that bad.
Now Duke’s personality is what really stuck out in this game, what may have been funny in the 90’s may not translate as well in the early 2010’s. You see fans of the old Duke games at that point had grown up, maybe started their own families the juvenile and outdate humour just didn’t stick the landing. Where he would make fun of vastly superior games, such as Halo and Valve titles, yes this was when Valve was still making games. His humour and personality just failed to move with the times, and he just came across as a relic which ironically enough the President of the US in the game calls him that.
Duke Nukem: Forever will be remembered in video game history for all the wrong reasons; was it a terrible game as some would let you believe? No, but I’m not saying it’s a good game, but it is not as abysmal as some would let you think. With a long development cycle, coupled with the fact by the time it did release it felt dated with level design, gameplay and humour that was about as funny as a monkey throwing its own faeces at a wall, which ironically you can do in game.