Then there are the driving levels, which differ between stages that feature a shrunken down Duke to when he rides for real in his pimped out truck. The controls are manageable, but far from perfect.

Boss fights pop up periodically, something that most FPS games are missing nowadays, but there is no real strategy to these events; with players relying on the tried and trusted method of circle-strafing in order to defeat these gigantic monsters. That’s another defining characteristic about DNF; this game is hard. Sometimes unfairly, sometimes legitimately – but the levels and challenges here are designed to kick your ass, meaning that there will be numerous restarts; a process that seems to take forever.

The levels themselves though, are beautifully realised. From the hedonistic heights of Las Vegas to the rather creepy alien hives, there’s a ton of original design flowing throughout the stages, giving players a rather picturesque locale with which to eviscerate foes. Mini games and interactive items are also prevalent, granting health boosting items that increase the size of Duke’s “Ego Bar”.

Duke himself has kept all his trademark offensive charm, and is once again voiced by the talented Jon St John, something long time fans of the series will appreciate. He’s got a witty remark for every occasion, and the game manages to keep them from being overused, playing the right quip at the right time.

There’re also plenty of weapons available here, but strangely – for a game that has embraced its old school roots – it limits players to only being able to carry two of them at any time, a slap in the face for the diehard fans.

The weapons themselves, while fun, are also too familiar, providing no real innovation at all. All the old favourites are there, from the trustworthy shotgun, to the handy freeze ray and the over the top Shrinking gun. They’re fun weapons, but they add nothing new to the franchise.

Duke Nukem Forever gameplay

Visually, the game isn’t terrible, but what does stand out is quickly run over by a truck of shoddy textures and blurred details when examined up close. Enemies are decently detailed, but the majority of civilian NPC characters look like creepy dolls, with the lip-synching being completely mismatched.

Multiplayer rears an ugly head to hammer in how dated this game is. Three different types of matches are on offer here- Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and the rather offensive Capture the Babe (like Capture the Flag, but with a schoolgirl that requires a regular spanking in order to keep her still).

There’s a decent selection of maps on offer, but the terrible targeting and laggy gameplay ruin what could have been a somewhat decent feature in the long run. Players can earn experience points with which they can add some sparkle to their virtual trophy room, but beyond the aesthetic value, there’s no real advantage or incentive at all for this.

And yet, despite all these glaring faults, there is some degree of fun to be had in this game. If the brash, in-your-face opening with an American flag, beautiful babes and excessive violence doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping then nothing will; this game openly wears its crude heart on its sleeve. You can’t help but chuckle at the quips that Duke doles out left and right, mocking everything from Halo to Warcraft to even himself.


DNF is a love letter to the fans who never gave up, to the faithful followers who prefer games with an actual challenge instead of just another generic shooter involving soldiers and terrorist. It’s a milestone that the gaming community can check off on its bucket-list, and hopefully allow the macho action star to finally move onto bigger and better games in his future. Yes, it’s failed to live up to its colossal hype – but really, how could it?


Gameplay: 5/10

Not terrible, but hardly fantastic. The dated, console-unfriendly design makes a challenging game even more difficult, while the driving sections are a hellish experience.

Design and Presentation: 5.5/10

Sometimes decent, but otherwise lacking overall. It’s easy to see that no amount of polish is going to make this title shine as brightly as its modern counterparts.

Value: 6/10

It’s a polarising choice, you either hate Duke or you love him; there is no grey. The campaign is rather lengthy, clocking in at least 10-12 hours, but the multiplayer needs a patch to improve the buggy gameplay.

Overall: 5.5/10

The king is back, but his kingdom is in tatters. Its a half-realized, messy game that will appeal only to the most hardcore of loyalists, while the younger generation of gamers laugh at us for worshipping this character. You want to like this game, but it does its best to make you hate it. Had this game been released five years ago, it would have satisfied gamers, but now its just far too late for this iconic franchise.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]

Last Updated: June 21, 2011

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Duke Nukem Forever

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