Dissecting Duke Nukem: Forever

Jack Coles hails the king in the only proper way. By ripping him to shreds.

Jack Coles
6th November 2017
Image: Igdb.com

Halloween might’ve passed, but there’s always time for the spookiest of spooks: wall titties! Yes, I’m talking about none other than Duke Nukem Forever, a game that ended its franchise like a veterinary bolt gun to the face.

It was two weeks ago when I saw it for just £4. So I purchased it and now I wish I had bought four bottles of bargain basement bleach instead; at least that would have left a better taste in my mouth.

I wish I had bought four bottles of bargain basement bleach instead.

Where to begin? Well, the tone’s all over the place, ranging from bright and colourful to darker than a Frankie Boyle joke in a power cut. The writing’s also everywhere. It’s as if the writers for the surprisingly morally complex game Borderlands 2 wrote ten minutes of main story, while a team of pubescent boys wrote all the bits in between. Like, there’s a surprisingly mature section at the start with a throwaway line poking fun at Bush and Blair for starting the Iraq war. The POTUS in this game comes across as an overworked man that is sick and tired of Duke’s actions, and throughout there is this sense that Duke may have ruined everything. But all the poorly-executed crude jokes and excessive nudity smother these occasional glimpses of brilliance.

Image: Igdb.com

Image: Igdb.com

Is this game sexist? Fuck yes, it is. And this is coming from me, a person so committed to neutrality that their favourite colour is grey (also I’m colour-blind). The alien base part is the worst offender, where women are trapped and proceed to explode in a shower of insectoids, and you’re incentivised to kill them before this happens. This could have been done so much better; we could have had a hard-hitting section where Duke tearfully euthanizes people to save them from the aliens growing out of their stomach. Instead we got sex jokes and women dying in such a way to maximise the exposure of their surgically-enhanced boobs. Also, somebody actually thought it would be a good idea to have disembodied breasts growing out of a wall. There’s even a loading screen tip telling you to slap them. The reason it gives you? “Most girls don’t like it if you slap theirs.” Words fail me.

Is this game sexist? Fuck yes, it is.

The game’s not funny, but is it fun? Not really. It’s basically functional, run-of-the-mill run-and-gun gameplay, broken up with occasional jump puzzles. Imagine Bioshock: Infinite’s combat with literally no pizzazz, so no vigors or skylines or trans-dimensional gunships. All you’ve got is a two-weapon carrying capacity, some generic gadgets, and sunglasses that hide the fact that Duke has bollocks for eyes. Even the game’s audio mixing is bad; in some places the music is too loud, in others it is nigh inaudible.

To summarise, Duke Nukem Forever is just a nauseating garbage fire designed by Jack the Ripper after watching Alien, Independence Day, and Confessions of a Window Cleaner. At risk of beating a mound of bonemeal that six years ago to be a dead horse, I shall say this: It’s not so bad it’s good. It’s just bad, and now I feel bad for playing it.

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