Duke Nukem: He’s Back, I Guess

by Jeremy Murphy

Duke Nukem Forever. I was hoping to analyze a game this time, not do a review, but I feel the need to speak up. Partly because of the hype, but mostly because of the one major thing that I feel most reviewers are blatantly ignoring. The only way to do this is by giving you two mini-reviews. I’ll start with the gameplay, which leads me into what people are ignoring:

Duke Nukem is Halo 1.

You carry two guns, running around killing aliens. There are human weapons, such as a pistol and shotgun, and energy-based alien weapons. The aliens don’t have any dialogue or personality; they’re just here killing, so you kill them back. You go on contrived little ‘missions’ that amount to just a different location for killing the same creatures. Every 2 levels or so, you’re confronted with a new type of alien. Sometimes you drive around a car, and though it’s fun, it doesn’t happen often. You have a couple of neat weapons, but the novelty wears off fast. An hour or two into the game, the only real motivation you have is to get to the end of the game and be done with it.  The story is awful, but shooting things in the head isn’t horrible, so you soldier on through.

That paragraph applies equally well to both DNF and Halo 1. Go ahead, go back and read it through again. The differences are cosmetic – Master Chief has a suit with shields, Duke has an ego meter. Halo happens in jungles and on beaches, DNF happens in a city.

Now, remember that I’m just talking gameplay. Yeah, Halo doesn’t have boobs and one-liners, but you can practically switch graphics and animations between the two games without significantly impacting the game. That said, Halo 1 is a fun game.

So, there’s that. Awesome game…for 2001. On to my second review: DNF as a Duke Nukem sequel!

If you played a lot of Duke 3D, you’ll probably enjoy this game. Hearing the old music play at the Duke Museum is awesome. Replaying the fight against the boss in the stadium is sweet. All the easter eggs and such are really cool. The nudity and vulgarity are all ramped up, which creates at least as many eye-rolling moments as funny ones, but isn’t that part of the Duke experience? I guess the main point is that they did a much better job at making a Duke game than they did at making a fun game.

Overall, this game is an expensive high-five to oldschool Duke lovers. If you didn’t spend hours on the earlier games, this will seem like a terrible, terrible game. If you did, you might not initially notice that fact.