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Duke Nukem Forever (PC)

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Manufacturer: Gathering of Developers / Genre: Adventure / Platform: Windows / Distribution Media: CD-ROM

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    7 Reviews
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      02.10.2012 10:58
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      Duke fans and casual FPS fans, get this!

      As you've probably gathered by now, Duke Nukem Forever has been slated by PC gamers and games reviewers. They don't like the level design, how simple the game is, it doesn't challenge you or make you want to play it again, something about weapon design etc etc...

      Luckily I'm from the old school of gaming, and I loved this game!

      I had all the original Duke Nukem games (all apart from Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter), and played them to completion. I loved the games, which were way ahead of their time when they were released. Since then games have moved on, become more complex, more challenging, and gamers have become more demanding.

      Luckily the developers have completely ignored the past 15 years and continued to make the game just as if it was 1991.

      For those that don't know, Duke Nukem is the world's greatest action hero. An amalgamation of all the greatest action heroes rolled into one. Hugely muscular, cigar-chomping, womanising, gun-toting, vain, stupid, and able to rattle off an unpithy insult in a crisis. And of course, he's Earth's last hope to save us from alien invasion.

      So firstly a warning to everyone that the humour in this game runs from avant-garde to extreme bad-taste, and covers everything inbetween. It deserves its 18 rating. From urinating into freshly-made alien corpses, to the wiggling of strippers' assets. Maturity is the name of the game. And the character of Duke Nukem is faithfully recreated, complete with inane put-downs and no-so-wisecracking taunts, and thankfully the original voice acting of Jon St John.

      When it comes to weapons, all the old favourites are there. RPGs, Railguns, the shrink ray, shotguns. Along with everyone's favourite power ups - the Holoduke, Steroids, etc. Which suited me fine, if it aint broke don't fix it I say!

      Gameplay-wise I found it just suited to me. The puzzles on how to progress weren't easy enough to bore me, but weren't so hard as to discourage me playing the game. The aliens attacks were similarly well-balanced for me. Maybe this is a reflection on what a poor gamesplayer I am, maybe a game that is easy for everyone else is a challenge to me. But that having been said, I thoroughly enjoyed blowing up anything that moved.

      At various points in the game. Duke gets to drive vehicles around. It was these parts of the game that I found slightly dull. Although some people may want a distraction from shooting aliens, I don't. Trying to find a way to get your vehicle through mazes and onto the next section of on-foot blasting action got a bit tedious after a while.

      I did also love the multiplayer. Very much old-school, anyone who has played the original Duke Nukem or Quake 3 should feel right at home. However there is also a trophy system , and the better you get the more things Duke gets for his "Digs", and you can walk around Duke's own mansion and have a look at all the rewards you've collected.

      Overall this game is like Duke himself - a no-brainer! If you're not bothered about complex strategical gameplay or challenging level-design and just want to blow seven shades of shish-kebab out of as many bad guys as possible, then get this game!

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        21.01.2012 16:30
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        As I say, you start the game urinating... It says it all.

        Once the gaming industry's most prominent example of Vaporware, 'Duke Nukem Forever' was finally released in 2011 after being in development for around 15 years - was it worth the wait? Well, no.

        What promised to be a non-stop action romp turned into a rather sour, repetitive and monotonous exercise in futility. Several levels are ruined by a genuine lack of ideas, an over-reliance on pop-culture and cult-film references and a flat-out desire to be comically edgy which results in nothing more than groans.

        Let's face it - a Duke Nukem game is going to be juvenile. We're looking at a pastiche of 80s action film heros, spouting quips from 'Army of Darkness', a clear hint of unabashed sexism and a penchant for overly adolescent humour and behaviour. But where the audience of 'Duke Nukem 3D' has grown up, 'Duke Nukem Forever' has regressed. Perhaps spirited on by advances in technology, Duke has more of a personality, and that personality is one of an utter prat. In a bid to be flat-out offensive, the game is littered with the utterly ridiculous, such as the infamous "wall-boobs" and the not-so-subtle references to certain celebrity twins. Various attempts at dark humour fall flat and while the overall childishness may at times make people drift back to the old days of the first-person shooter, often it'll just result in a quick scramble to silence the jabbering pest that you're forced to play as. It isn't a bad thing that Duke quips occasionally, it is what made 'Duke Nukem 3D' so memorable, but it is a bad thing when you feel like you're trapped in a room with a 1940s record player constantly skipping.

        There's also the issue of the horrific level design. One level has you driving a truck, only to run out of fuel, get out, find fuel, shoot a few monsters, get back in the truck, drive on, run out of fuel and repeat. Who thought this was going to be fun? It isn't. It's a nuisance! The fact that the terrain looks near identical to how it did five minutes prior makes you realise you're stuck in the imagination void of a designer who hasn't received his paycheck for a decade. Perhaps if the game designers had stopped trying to think of "fun" ways to boost your health, such as microwaving popcorn or lifting weights, or just how amusing it is to use a urinal, we might have a little bit more innovation in some of these levels and perhaps a little less of doing the same, damn thing over and over again. Then we have the puzzle areas that randomly occur but let's be honest, Duke isn't Lara Croft, nor is he Gordon Freeman (if only he was, then maybe he'd shut up) and these puzzles just seem to have been put there to add a few extra minutes to the gameplay, or perhaps make you forget that you already saw the area you entered ten minutes ago!

        Is it all bad? Well, no. In fairness, when you do get to fight there's some exciting, thrilling and intense experiences to be had as enemies can flood rooms and you'll regularly find yourself trapped in a confined space, being marched upon by numerous aliens while frantically trying to blast your way out of there. This is how an "old school" shooter should be! Unabashed, adrenaline-fuelled combat! Graphically, although often slated, with the graphics set to the max, although cartoony they're not bad at all - easily on par with the likes of 'Borderlands' although admittedly a little outdated. A varied selection of weapons, including the shrinking ray from D3D are included, so you have plenty of choice on how to dispatch your opponents but be aware, like modern FPS games, DNF has a limit on how many you can carry at one time.

        There is some fun to be had with this game but you have to sift through a lot of garbage to get to it. Much of the game seems like it was added solely to add a little extra gameplay time so that customers don't feel shortchanged but truthfully you likely will anyway. Although no one wants a game whereby all you do is shoot, move, shoot, move etc. do people really want to spend time cooking popcorn, driving in some sort of warped Groundhog Day experience, or just generally mucking about? I don't think so. This could have been better had there been a bigger focus on gameplay and design than all these "amusing" little distractions and the poor attempt to gain recognition through controversy. Face it, Duke, you're about as edgy as a Care Bear these days.

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        08.10.2011 11:55
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        Nowhere near as good as its ancient predecessor

        Oh for crying out loud.

        Released back in 1996, Duke Nukem 3D was a superb FPS, with visuals that were hugely impressive for the time. It relied on the BUILD engine, which allowed for the creation of more realistic environments, as well as the ability to jump and to look up and down, all of which allowed for new and exciting gameplay possibilities that were explored to the full in the game's superbly well-designed levels. The game boasted an inventive arsenal of weaponry for the player to mess about with, and had a great (midi) score, as well as some excellent voice acting for the Duke, essentially an action-hero charicature who offered up hilarious one-liners throughout the course of the game.

        Upon finishing Duke 3D, the player is informed by Nukem that he will be taking some much needed R and R, and will be back for more alien ass-kicking adventures very soon. Excited at this prospect, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Every now and again some teaser screenshots would appear in the gaming press: images of the hotly awaited game using the Quake engine, then the Quake 2 Engine, and then what looked to be a modified version of the Half Life engine. The years started to pile up. Even George Romero's Daikatana emerged from its development hell, many years late, but still no sign of the Duke. The PC gaming market all-but shrivelled away, unable to compete with the newest generation of cheap, tecchnologically competitive consoles, and PC Zone magazine closed its doors after running for nearly two decades. And still, nothing.

        Then, finally, a full 15 years after Duke 3D, Duke Nukem Forever finally appeared on the shelves. And it was a mess. In fairness, it only arrived at all because a dedicated team of developers put it together in their spare time, official developer 3D Realms Having disbanded and the game having been left for dead. The programmers who salvaged what they could and got it finished at all deserve some credit, although it should be added that the game has to all intents and purposes been created again from scratch in the last couple of years, the material from before then having been deemed too dated to use, and thus discarded. A similar thing happened with Daikatana: the painful decision was taken by Romero to scrap all the work done with the original Quake engine, and to start from scratch with the Quake 2 engine, hence why Daikatana felt so rushed and cobbled together when it finally arrived, after years of delays. Like Daikatana, Duke Forever looks and feels very dated, but poor as it was, at least Daikatana felt like a PC game, and not some hopelessly dumbed down console affair.

        Duke Forever is lacking almost everything that made its predecessor great. Gone are the complex, immersive, largely open levels of the original, replaced here by completely linear enviroments that feel incredibly constraining and dull by comparison. The game looks good, if not as good as some other modern games, but who cares about the visuals- its gameplay that counts. But sadly the gameplay is pretty lacking. Part of Duke 3D's appeal was the wide array of coulourful weapons you could use- blasting away with the Ripper machinegun or the visceral pump-action shotgun one minute, then whipping out an RPG launcher and gibbing everything in sight, or lobbing some pipebombs round a corner, or freezing an enemy with the freeze-ray then kicking his solidified corpse to pieces with a well aimed boot. All of the original weapons are back (no new ones though), but, aping the modern Halo tradition that is so popular on consoles, the player can only carry 2 weapons at a time, meaning that the Duke is not nearly as tough as he used to be. This is an infuriating alteration, made worse by the fact that bigger baddies can only be killed with explosives (which can be found in infinite amounts in boxes close to said bosses), so the game basically forces you to carry one explosives weapon and one other gun, reducing the fun factor considerably. Ammo-management is out the window too, dumbing things down yet further, and medkits are gone as well- instead the Duke's health regenerates automatically, meaning that fights in the game will involve lots and lots of ducking behind cover like a girl- something that the real Duke would never, ever do. Strictly speaking the Duke doesnt have health this time, but rather 'Ego', and his ego meter can be replenished by interacting with various items in the game- drinking a can of beer for example, or lifting some weights, or playing a game of pinball. This is a decent idea, but as Duke's ego regenerates automatically anyway, there is no real tension in the game, plus it makes no sense that acting like such a pansy, hiding behind cover every five minutes, would increase Dukes ego- if it should bring his ego down, logically speaking.

        So, to recap- totally linear levels, generic console weapon and health systems, and bosses that can only be killed with explosives, making other weapons redundant half the time. What else is wrong? Well, the developers have tried to create an immerseive universe in some ways- creating lots of things the player can interact with throughout the levels as in the original. Unfortunately these minigames dont work very well- the air hockey game is terrible, the pinball game is largely broken, and the pool table was more interactive back in the original Duke 3d than here. The game also has other sections in it other than standard running and gunning: there are sections that involve driving a souped up monster truck car around, though these types of level were done much better in Half Life 2 and get dull fast, plus there are lots of interminable 'turret' sections where the player controls a static gun, but these have been around for years now- Medal of Honour, Solder of Fortune 2 and even Sin all carried these off as early as a decade ago.

        The same guy is back doing voice acting for Duke, and this is very good, and though his one-liners can sound stale at times its still good to hear the Duke again after all these years. I just wish he was in a better game. Multiplayer is mediocre at best, and the single player game, whilst it has some varied levels and is definitely fun in places, just feels like dull and generic console fodder for the most part, and is nowhere near as enjoyable or gratifying as the original game was (and still is). Even the weapons largely feel unsatisfying to use, with the exception of the shotgun, whilst the rock/metal guitar music, whilst a great idea, feels sadly half-baked and generic as well and gets old pretty quickly.

        A mix of console populism and industry greed have largely wrecked the once rich and unique PC gaming market, and Duke Forever is just one more casualty, along with the once-great Doom and C&C franchises, to name but two other examples. Ironically though, although the game is highly console friendly in terms of general design, the PC version is actually the superior version, as the console versions suffer from poorer visuals and grossly increased load-times (though the load times are still too long on the PC version, again, as with Daikatana). Though not a terrible game, Duke Forever is not a good game either. I'd much rather play the graphically inferior (and now scrapped) version of the game that was being touted in a teaser trailer in around 2003/4. That looked awesome. Sadly, though, it was not to be. Oh well, at least the game finally made it to release. That's something, I guess.

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        04.07.2011 20:41
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        If you ignore the hype and the haters and just enjoy it for the nostalgia value,this is a classic...

        There's been an awful lot of negative reviews of Duke Nukem: Forever since it's release. If you have any mild interest in gaming then you probably noticed. There was even a big hoo-haa as the PR company made a big balls-up threatening reviewers who dished out bad reviews of the game. Frankly, they're all noobs and I'll tell you why...
        It seems that the great majority of reviewers (and people in general) went into Duke Nukem: Forever thinking that it was a game that had been in production for 11+ years and therefore had to be fantastic. I, on the other hand, went to play Duke in the knowledge that NOTHING could live up to that hype or development time-line. Just like I expect Dr Dre's Detox album to be a let down, I went into Duke expecting to be underwhelmed and disappointed. After all, if you look at the historic screen shots and gaming videos of Duke Nukem: Forever over the years, it's such a mixed bag, how can it possibly be any good? Playing the game with this outlook, I was far from disappointed.

        Duke Nukem 3D was innovative and amazing in its day. It broke the mould and changed the way things were done. Sure, it was rude, daft and had strippers, but it also had little quirks and game play elements which helped it stand out from the crowd. Alas, Duke Nukem: Forever has none of that. So don't expect to be blown away. In terms of game play, Duke Nukem: Forever is not very different at all from Duke Nukem 3D. In fact it might as well be called Duke Nukem 3D Part 2. But where most games would fall down for this, Duke Nukem: Forever wins prizes (in my book). It's DUKE! Come on!
        I'm from that age group of people who played the original game when computers were still cream and games like Doom, Rise of the Triad and Return to Castle Wolfenstein were the dogs-knackers. Thus, I have hazy fond memories of fuzzy boobs, classic Duke Nukem lines ('Shake it baby', 'It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum...') so the new game has a special place in my heart for helping me relive my youth without ruining the memories by trying to run the old game on an emulator.

        Duke Nukem: Forever is an unhealthy trip down memory lane. Where we're kicking alien ass simply because they spilt our beer and had the cheek to steal Duke's babes.
        There are plenty of complaints about the game - the graphics are naff, there's nothing new, you can only carry 2 guns, it's unnecessarily rude...blah, blah, blah. Well, all of those arguments are just daft. On PC the graphics are pretty good, sure, it's not eye-poppingly amazing, but reasonably spiffing. Yes, there's nothing new, but that's why its good - pump action shotgun, chugging beer, peeing in the urinals and enjoying strippers....what's not to love? You can only carry two guns, but that hardly matters as you'll be constantly running out of ammo anyway. There's plenty of different guns (pistol, RPG, devastator, rail gun, shrink ray, freeze gun, shotgun, etc, etc) lying about the place, so grab something new and have a laugh. The shrink ray is top fun, shrink a pig cop then stomp on them. What's not to love. Steriods, Duke hologram and beer make for a varied bit of game play. There's plenty of fun to be had.

        Of course, you could argue (and some have) that this sort of shooter is dated and belongs in 1995. You'd probably be right. It's a corridor shooter, with limited ammo and bosses that are a pain to kill. It's a game from a different era, but that's why it's great because it's a classic revived. Sure, Duke Nukem: Forever will not be winning game of the year awards, but it's a good giggle and I don't regret purchasing it.
        The other big argument is the game is rude, offensive and unnecessarily vulgar. Erm... It's a Duke Nukem game? That's a stupid argument. It's like saying the Pope is too religious. If there wasn't plenty of swearing, daft toilet humour and naked ladies you'd be disappointed and if you weren't, then quite frankly you shouldn't be playing Duke Nukem - go and play Halo, you noob.

        It took me 9 hours to complete Duke Nukem: Forever on the 'Let's Rock' (medium) difficulty setting. And I enjoyed every minute. Then I was rewarded with 'extras' which included original trailers, screenshots, concepts and a Duke Nukem time-line. Looking through it you remember just how much went into this game. Yes, it could (and perhaps should) have been mind-blowing, but if you were seriously expecting that then frankly you're just being unrealistic.
        There are however, some unexpected elements to Duke Nukem: Forever I wasn't expecting. For instance, there are several levels where the game essentially turns into a platformer as you run Duke around trying to find a way out of a room or across to a specific objective. As an example, you enter a room and the floor is electrified, you've just recently been shrunk into a tiny Duke and have to bounce across burger buns, shelves and microwaves in order to turn the power off. There are more parts of the game like this when you're shrunk and need to combat full-sized aliens. Luring them into a shrink zone so you can fight at the same size or simply pummelling them with RPG rockets until you win. There are a few levels where you tear about in a truck (or remote control car) and even an area where you use a fork lift truck to skewer pig cops. There's plenty of variety, yet the game is most definitely a corridor-shooter in the original sense. You have one specific path through the game and cannot make your own way. This is made even more clear when you realise that you cannot escape a room without killing all the enemies inside and the last one explodes against a wall, dropping a bit of ceiling so you can escape (or some such enemy-enabled escape exit). This can be frustrating and has been done to death, but Duke is meant to be saving the earth from the alien menace, so just get stuck into character and do what you're meant to and it's thoroughly enjoyable.

        It's an absoloute joy to hear Jon St. John voicing the new itteration of Duke with his usual passion and class. There's plenty of current quips, daft references to other games and classic Duke one-liners. Thoroughly enjoyable. I only wish he'd said some more of the classics. But the extra bonus is when you've completed the game you'll get a Duke Nukem soundboard - probably so you can re-enact the Duke Nukem Ventrilo Harassment video (see youtube).
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE3KdcTgrno

        In the end, as a trip down memory lane, this Duke Nukem outing was well worth the wait. It's good dirty Duke fun. Remember, no one forced you to pick that turd out of the toilet and chuck it about. Or put that rat in the microwave. You did that all yourself, you sick bastard.
        n.b. I've not played the multiplayer yet - watch this space for more...

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          22.06.2011 22:57
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          Duke Nukem Forever is great, but not amazing. Fans will appreciate a return of Duke's one-liners!

          After 14 years, and countless set-backs, Duke Nukem Forever finally graced the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on the 14th June 2011, but was it worth the wait? Well, yes and no. This time around, Alien invaders are "stealing Earth's women" and drinking Duke's beer. This hasn't settled too well with the lady-loving, foul mouthed action hero Duke Nukem, who sets about "bringing on the pain" to these extra-terrestrial bad guys.

          14 years have passed, and Duke is still the same cigar-chugging, insult throwing, and wise cracking hulk of muscle he was from the 1990s. Throw in the obligatory severe 90's buzz cut and red tank top, and you have Duke. To add further ridiculousness to the already humorous protagonist, health can be regenerated by fuelling Duke's "ego bar", which can be filled in a variety of ways, such as signing autographs for his fans, checking his reflection in a mirror, and making his adoring female fans swoon. Duke's phrases from the previous games are present once again here, and although at times they may be quite hilarious, it wears thin around the middle half of the game. Unfortunately, the scriptwriters never felt to write any new quotes for Duke this time around, which is a shame as he had the potential to make us chuckle for longer. There is a sense of Duke Nukem Forever being somewhat out of date in terms of its pop culture references too. The most recent game that DNF refers to is Call Of Duty 4, which was released back in 2007. That is four years ago now, and there have been plenty of successful first person shooters recently which they could have referenced. DNF pays also pays homage to a series of films, such as Pulp Fiction, released in 1994. Although Pulp Fiction is considered a cult classic by many, this is a 17 year old film now, and newer films could also have been quoted in all honesty. Still, out of date quotations and homage's aside, Duke serves as a highly enjoyable character to play. He is essentially a hammed up version of the action heroes you play in many games, but it makes a nice change to play someone as outrageous as Duke rather than a more serious action hero.

          Those wishing for a real story-driven game will not really find it here. Duke Nukem Forever's plot is simple, and very thin. However, the real enjoyment comes in blasting away countless aliens and listening out for Duke's quips, and I found that I quickly forgot about the plot as I got involved in the shooting. Therefore, although the story is very thin, it is not going to dampen your enjoyment of the game as a whole.

          As for the game-play, the story mode can be completed in around 10 hours. This seems incredibly short considering this is selling at full retail price currently, but this does not include the multiplayer mode which you are free to play as well. In the story mode, the game-play is frantic and action packed. Almost all of the weapons from Duke Nukem 3D have returned here, and each one provides a different way of obliterating your foes. New weapons have also been included, such as an alien laser, and all of these are incredibly enjoyable to play around with. There is also the option to engage in some hand-to-hand combat here, using Duke's leather gloved fists. One aspect that some gamers may not enjoy much is the physics and switch puzzle sections. Whilst some of these puzzles are very brief and easy to complete, others are rather long, and become mundane very quickly. Sadly, these puzzles do not work particularly well in Duke Nukem Forever, and feel somewhat unnecessary, as the gamer is taken away from a lot of game play they have already grown accustomed to throughout the game. There is plenty of action on foot here, but players will also get the option to drive in some vehicles in points, and operate turrets against enemies.

          Duke Nukem fans will remember the strip club sections in the previous games. Fear not, this is back in DNF. Be prepared for a lot of nudity here, as rather predictably for a strip club, there are plenty of girls wandering around topless. The strip club level also allows players to try out pinball, air hockey, billiards and poker before returning to the alien invasion. The end of level bosses provide a challenge for players, but once you learn their strategy, you'll be able to beat them soon enough. Each boss is large, ugly and rather spectacular looking. This one of the moments where the level of detail which should have been evident all over in the game is at its strongest. The bosses are also very different from one another, which stops the boss fights from becoming repetitive and unoriginal. One great aspect of the game play is that the environment in which you are in is interactive. Walk up to objects and sometimes there is an option to press X on your control pad to interact with it. For instance, enter a bathroom and you may fill up the sink, turn on the hand dryer, look in the mirror, or use the urinal (a somewhat amusingly gross moment which involves steering a stream of Duke's urine into the trough).

          Once the main storyline is complete, the multiplayer function adds Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Babe (much like the Capture the Flag mode from games such as Halo), and King of the Hill. Much like the single player, the action here is fast and frantic, but with the absence of a story, this makes for mindless, enjoyable fun. Racing to beat your online buddies to the top score is somewhat rewarding, and results in being one of the most enjoyable aspects of Duke Nukem Forever as a whole.

          Overall, Duke Nukem Forever is a good game, but it is by no means amazing. Since it has been in development for over 14 years, it definitely looks a little dated. The graphics are not as overly impressive as I thought they would be, and do not translate that successfully on a HD screen. Characters and scenery have a fuzzy outline, and overall the graphics needed a good polish. The game also suffers from some frame-rate issues, and tends to freeze sometimes, especially if there are a lot of enemies on the screen at one time. Whilst this may be a common problem in many games, it is something that is still incredibly frustrating. Duke's wise-cracks reference older pop culture references, and would have been more hilarious if they referenced newer material. However, despite the criticisms, Duke Nukem Forever is still an entertaining game, and I am sure there are many fans who will still enjoy playing this through. Despite the very mixed reviews it has received so far, DNF appears to be selling well. Take Two representative Strauss Zelnick has hinted at future Duke Nukem media coming from this company in the very near future, so I am sure that Duke will be back to "kick ass and chew bubble gum" once again very soon.

          *Also on my blog here: http://8-bitgirl.blogspot.com/2011/06/duke-nukem-forever-worth-wait.html *
          *Also on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88" *

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            20.06.2011 22:26
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            Couldn't live up to the expectations.

            Seems like the developers thought the famous name of the game alone will make the sales! Well, they quite failed. Guess what? They received 3.5/10 on Gamespot! The reasons are below.

            Almost half life 2 mod. In my opinion, buying this game would nothing more than wasting money. This game has got extreme negative reviews. You can read some on Amazon.

            This review is completely based on my opinion. I don't want to make it long. I make it straight to the point so that you can decide on whether to buy this crap!

            Good sides:

            1. Graphics is not bad. Turn off post processing and the graphics gets better.
            2. Gameplay is quite good for the average gamer.
            3. Funny stuffs in paces like cabinets, etc.

            Those are all the good sides are of this game. Now starts the downsides:

            1. Not jetpacks. This fact quite took me aback.
            2. You can't free roam much like you used to in Duke Nukem 3d!
            3. No secret areas. WTF!
            4. Too much nudity.
            5. Poor A.I.
            5. Fewer dukes.

            Overall, it couldn't live up to what I expected. This review is completely based on my opinion. Chances are your taste buds are different and you might end up loving the game. Driver: Parallel Lines wasn't liked very much. Yet, I loved that game!

            Hopefully, you found it useful.

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              18.06.2011 00:29
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              Play Duke Nukem 3D or wait for Serious Sam 3 instead. Duke Nukem Forever should have stayed dead.

              Ever wonder what video gaming's last taboo is? No - me, neither. However, having played Duke Nukem Forever, it would seem to be smoking, which would certainly reflect Hollywood's position on the matter. Aside from the game's mainstay, which is slaughtering evil aliens, Duke Nukem Forever lets you get up to all sorts of behaviour that is generally frowned upon by polite society. You can get drunk out of your head on beer, take steroids, fling poo around, kill topless women and squash small animals. But smoking? No chance - even though there are packs of cigarettes in the game, the game won't let you use them. You can, however, chug down beer till you're very ill indeed. Which seems kind of uneven to me. Yes, smoking is a disgusting habit, but is it worse than all the other things in the game? I doubt it.

              Having said that, the uneven treatment of smoking is the least of Duke Nukem Forever's worries. I won't go into the detailed history of the game, but it's been in development for at least 12 years. The game was being developed by 3D Realms but they went bust, the game having become something of an industry joke. But now it's been finished by Gearbox Games and released by 2K. And was it worth the wait? No. It's a load of old rubbish.

              The previous title in the Duke Nukem series, Duke Nukem 3D, was highly lauded and remains one of the best 3D shoot-em-ups ever. Unlike Doom, it took place in the real world - sort of - and had macho badass Duke Nukem slaughtering a bunch of evil aliens and firing out a bunch of quips as he did so. It was an excellent game - and it still is, since you get buy it on Grand Old Games for about four quid. Duke Nukem Forever, on the other hand, is a big mess. As a Duke Nukem game it falls flat and as a 3D shoot-em-up it falls short of the accomplishments of other shooters.

              The game starts with you, as Duke, finishing up his business in the bathroom. This is presumably to underline the fact that the game contains plenty of toilet humour and also that you can interact with various objects in the world. Thing is, messing around with physics is an option that's been available to anyone who's played Half Life 2 or any number of other post Half Life 2 games. And as for the humour? It's just not funny - I suspect Gearbox were trying to emulate the humour of the original game and failed miserably. It's not a case of me viewing the old game through rose-tinted glasses either - I played the original before having a crack at Forever and it's still good for a few laughs. Duke Nukem Forever, on the other hand, has few genuinely good gags, and it feels like Duke is just firing out quips and random without any real regard for context.

              Once you've left the bathroom - and by this point you'll have noticed the controls feel a little wonky - you have a quick wanded through a corridor and see a bunch of SWAT members getting slaughtered by a monster in a football stadium which, as it turns out, is where you're holed up. Inconveniently for you, the corridor collapses, forcing you to find another way out. This where another of Forever's faults crops up. Whereas the previous game let you roam around the levels more or less at will - barring the odd locked door - Forever shunts you down a series of small linear levels and usually stops you backtracking by using a scripted event such as a door locking behind you.

              Around this time, you'll also notice how poor the graphics are - they're scarcely better than those found on the original X-Box. The animation's pretty dire too. Eventually, you'll make your way to the stadium itself to take on the cycloid, the giant boss from the end of the last game. You might get killed by the monster, as I did and if you played the original Duke Nukem 3D, you'll wonder when Duke became such a pussy because many of the monsters in the game - bosses or not - can kill Duke in two or three hits at normal difficulty level. So instead of the balls-to-the-wall shoot-em-up antics of Duke Nukem 3D, you end up having to use the same kind of fire-cover-duck tactics you have to use in other shooters. And when you die, the game loads the level again, and given that the game has some excruciatingly long load times, that's one hell of a pain in itself.

              Should you manage to kill the monster, the game continues - although that you'll have encountered several of the game's major flaws within the space of about five minutes, you may not want to continue. At this point I certainly wasn't having fun. But let me throw in another flaw since I'm on a roll. This involves partially spoiling the end of the game, so if you don't want to know how it ends, look away now. Right. Here goes. The boss you fight in the first few minutes of the game, the Cycloid, is the exact same monster you fight at the end of the game. No, I'm not kidding. After you kill the boss, it's revealed Duke was playing a game, so you're playing a game within a game, but the actual boss you've just killed is the end of game boss. Yeah, it's a pretty rubbish design decision and it smacks of trying to get this out of the door as soon as possible.

              The game doesn't really get any better from here on in. I managed to make it to the game's third boss or so before I gave up because the game simply wasn't any fun. The game does occasionally throw in some vehicle sections, but these are pretty poor as well, given how poorly the vehicles handle. The game also has you solving some minor puzzles and jumping around on platforms on some reason which is a trial in itself given the wonkiness of the controls. And as for the puzzles? They're pretty dire too. How is it you're expected to bounce a pipebomb round a vent to set off a chain of explosions to open a door when Duke has been yanking open all the other metal doors he's encountered?

              And then there's the monsters and the weapons. The game explains that the aliens from the previous game have come back. Which is really a convenient way of saying that they're going to use the exact same weapons and monsters in the game. And indeed, there are very few new monsters and very few new weapons, most having been recycled from Duke Nukem 3D. Even though the game might look like Duke Nukem 3D with a graphics upgrade, it's not - it isn't a patch on that game.

              The game makes jokes about Duke himself being a relic, but that's not the problem with Forever. After all, Duke Nukem 3D has stood the test of time. The problem is that Duke Nukem Forever is just a bad game. It's a mish-mash of old and new gaming ideas, a Frankenstein's monster of a game that doesn't offer much to either fans of Duke Nukem 3D or gamers who are just looking for a good shoot-em-up. It'll probably sell on the name alone, but if Duke wasn't in it, there's no way this would have been released. If you're looking for more old-school shooting mayhem then try the original Duke Nukem 3D or wait for Serious Sam 3 to be released. And leave Duke Nukem Forever on the shelf.

              (review by me, also posted on Freeola)

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