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Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time)

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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Duke Nukem Forever... again. This is the real review. The joke review is here.

Transcript Edit

Well, this will teach me not to open my big, fat cake socket. "There goes Old Man Yahtzee," cry the children of the village. "He's the chump who decided that just because Duke Nukem Forever hadn't come out in thirteen years and its developers had gone down the plughole that it was safe to make a joke review that hinged entirely on Duke Nukem Forever never actually seeing the light of day, but now it has and he has so much egg on his face that you could slap him with a frying pan and call him an omelette. Har har har."

To which I reply, "That's quite a needlessly complicated chant you've got going on there, children of the village. But the point of my joke review, which I'm not surprised has slipped by your Fetal Alcohol Syndrome-addled minds, was not 'Duke Nukem Forever will never be released' but 'Duke Nukem Forever probably should never be released,' because nothing they produce could live up to thirteen years of anticipation. Reality will always disappoint when compared to the things we can imagine, because everything I imagine has a set of massive tits that lactate creamed rice." Still, the actual Duke Nukem Forever of reality is certainly well-served in the tits department.

If you weren't, say, born yet when Duke Nukem 3D came out, let me give you a refresher. Duke Nukem is a mentally-handicapped man who can only communicate in pop culture references on account of having two additional testicles instead of a brain. Fortunately, he lives in a world where no one else has any personality at all, and you know what they say: in the kingdom of the blind, the quadruple-bollocked man is king.

Twelve years after their first invasion, the aliens have finally finished pushing their eyeballs back in and their goolies back out and are ready for round two. At the start, there's a certain ambiguity as to whether they're invading or showing up with an apology fruit basket and whether or not it's Duke who opens the hostilities. "Huh," I thought, "perhaps they're taking the story in a more complex direction as Duke is forced to mature and understand that his actions have consequences." But then Duke slapped some tits on a wall and I said, "Well, never fucking mind!"

The development of Duke Nukem can best be equated to some guys trying to build a house opposite a boat on a river. Unfortunately, legendary superhero Captain Obvious wasn't available to explain that the boat was always going to have moved on by the time the house gets finished, isn't it. And after fourteen years of constantly shifting down river, you're just going to have a few piles of bricks and some pissed-off day laborers.

The interesting thing about Forever is that you could practically cut it in half and see the entire fourteen years of shooter evolution it's tried to keep up with, like the rings in a tree stump. It starts off campy and colorful, in a Sin / Blood II: The Chosen kind of way, then it moves into the dark, sweaty, unpleasant Doom 3 / Prey / Quake 4 period when you go into the alien hive - and incidentally this section contains about as jarring a shift of tone as you can get without splicing five minutes of The Human Centipede into the middle of Mallrats. And by the last mission, Duke has finally embraced the FPSes of today, meaning you run around a gray-brown industrial area for a while, then get a shit ending.

You know, I do try to go into reviews unbiased. I said try, not always successfully I admit. And indeed, having spent my pubescence knocking out several crafty ones to Duke 3D, I found myself really trying to like Duke Nukem Forever. At least it trusts you to be able to put a piece of cover between you and the bullets without also having to cuddle up to it like you're hoping to shag it after the film. At least you can jump up and down from things without having to find the spot where the contextual "jump up and down" icon appears. At least it actually has a sense of humor that's not in the Bulletstorm sense of just playing it all straight and claiming that you're being "ironic." For example, your health bar is your ego bar, which you can increase by winning at pinball or admiring yourself in the mirror, which I thought was a nice way of incorporating into gameplay the old Duke 3D tradition of "messin' with the set dressin'".

I guess I want it to be good because that's how the story's supposed to end. After fourteen years of sneering bullies making the Did Not Finish joke, the plucky, never-say-die Duke Nukem should finally turn around and silence those guffawing shits.

Well, Duke Nukem has certainly put an end to all those jokes, if only because they're now more tragic than funny. Even as I played, that part of me that takes an almost sexual joy in ruining other people's fun turned upon myself and said that "Yahtzee, you and I both know that you have pushed games off subway train platforms when they had less problems than this." "Oh, God, you're right. There's just no excuse for loading times this long unless you're a fucking removals van." Perhaps the thinking is that if we're still buying the game after fourteen years, then we've proved that we at least possess the virtue of patience.

You know what, if I didn't know the history of this game, I would have said it seemed a bit rushed. It's not just the gameplay attitudes that have come from ten years ago, they seem to have brought some of the graphics technology along for the ride. The textures are low-quality, the levels are dull, and the frame-rate somehow still manages to chug like your mum at the bacon buffet. On top of that, the console controls are clunky and difficult, which leads to many frustrating deaths, but fortunately the loading screens will give you plenty of time to calm down, make a cup of tea, perhaps read that book you've been meaning to get into.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so obnoxious if it weren't so fucking pleased with itself. When the game takes rather clumsy and pointless jabs at other shooters that have since surpassed it, I can't help but say "people who live in glass houses, Duke Nukem Forever, shouldn't make ugly, frustrating, poorly optimized games." And most of the jokes are pop culture references. Not parodies, references. It's just pointing out a Master Chief helmet on a shelf and saying "recognize this and laugh, you sheep." And while some sheep will perhaps laugh now, when future archeologists discover games like Duke Nukem Forever and films like the Scary Movie franchise, they will assume they were created in an entirely different language, perhaps by an entirely different species of underevolved mole people in slogan t-shirts.

So, this is how the anticipation ends, people. First show of the long-awaited comeback tour and the singer's hanged himself on the microphone cord. But he's trying to sing anyway, forcing on a smile and choking out lyrics in between grotesque spasms, and you're wondering whether it's kinder to cut him down or swing on his legs to help him on his way.

AddendaEdit

The fickle finger of hate: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

And you can't even give money to strippers, that's like remaking Jaws and forgetting to put a shark in it

Of course it was going to disappoint, I just didn't think it would be this much


ScreenshotsEdit

DNF 2

Well, this will teach me not to open my big, fat cake socket

DNF 1

You know, I do try to go into reviews unbiased

DNF 3

How the story's supposed to end

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
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Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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