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Duke Nukem Forever or Never?

/ Jul 4th, 2015 No Comments

Duke Nukem Forever

Many games over the history of video gaming have garnered some serious hate. Whether it be Superman 64 with its “driving a bus through water” controls, or E.T. for Atari and its shameless attempt to cash-in on a well-received film. The merits of hating each of these awful travesties of gaming waver from title to title. However, one notoriously hated title doesn’t deserve the vitriol it garners.

Duke Nukem Forever doesn’t deserve the shade gamers throw its way. Putting aside the controversy over faked gameplay and the decade of “work”, Gearbox took the game from next-to-nothing and made it a reality in a short amount of time. For their troubles they were scapegoated as the face of gaming delays, despite not being 3D Realms, the company originally working on Duke Nukem Forever.

How to Hate the Duke

Duke Nukem Forever got blasted for just about everything. An overly macho plot, poor gameplay and controls, clunky shooting, and even being overtly sexist. Players name the problem and Duke Nukem Forever was accused of perpetuating it. As far as the controls, players were quick to harp on no real innovations to the genre and a haphazard FPS with the bare bones required to move and shoot. This mixed with accusations of being incredibly repetitive and too hard, or too easy, left many players wondering why play at all.

Duke Nukem Forever

Only you can stop Duke on Duke crime.

Back when the earth was young and the 90s reigned, pills flowed freely and the video game industry was finally considered a big-boy. During this time, Duke Nukem was a household name. His overly macho mentality and balls-out catchphrases perfectly targeted the male demographic. Telling pig-cops to “eat s*** and die” was big business. Flash forward to the incredibly progressive year of 2011, players found Duke again. Instead of being novel and interesting, he was worn out and the face of sexism. All of his tired gameplay and backwards thinking left him in the perfect position to be hated across the industry.

The icing on the hate Duke cake was hype, pure unadulterated hype. Duke Nukem Forever had built itself up to an urban legend of mythic proportions. Some spoke of the game as if it was Bloody Mary, in hushed tones and away from mirrors. What Duke Nukem Forever turned out to be, was shockingly just another game. Fans were expecting the most ultra, macho thrill ride to ever grace gaming. Instead they got Duke Nukem Forever, a game that could never sit on the throne that had been built for it.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Duke

Like many other gamers at the time, Duke Nukem Forever didn’t live up to my hype, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t love every second of it. Part of it was the rose-colored glasses that I wore while killing alien scum. However, the biggest chunk of accepting Duke Nukem Forever was forgiveness. When you expect Excalibur and get a sandwich sword, you learn to make due. While Duke Nukem Forever didn’t become a game that changed my life (or anyone’s, really), it was a purchase that filled my world with many hours of joy.

Duke up against the haters.

Duke up against the haters.

I went in with deflated expectations, but enjoyed the ride, while still noting the flaws. Some of the bosses were either too easy or too hard, there was a steep difficulty in a couple of the driving levels and even a few of the jokes were just done in poor taste. While calling all women babe isn’t exactly forward thinking, Duke getting a blow-job in a bathroom is exactly what I’d expected of a dream level inside a strip club. To enjoy yourself, you had to take the bad with the good. If anything, the biggest complain is that the game was too short, I wanted more but was found wanting at the end of Duke Nukem Forever.

A lot of the weapons were quite cool. Some were pretty basic FPS fair, such as shotguns and pistols, but the rocket launcher and shrink gun provided hours of entertainment. Games like Half-Life and Resident Evil tried to be withholding with rocket ammunition, but Duke Nukem Forever just asked players to go nuts. This freedom to play wild and fast hadn’t been experienced since the last Duke Nukem, or similar games like Serious Sam. It felt fresh in a sea of uncanny valley moral choice game-films. Anyone who wasn’t tickled that Duke’s health bar is a measure of his ego is just not letting themselves enjoy life.

Where Do We Go Now?

We as a gaming community learn to move on. A while back we spoke about resolutions for gamers, and Duke Nukem Forever got a brief mention. The same can be brought up regarding games like Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, which I was guilty of unfairly hating, as well as other games.

Duke Nukem Forever

God Bless America.

Did Duke Nukem have flaws? Absolutely, but it wasn’t the anti-christ of gaming. For that matter neither was Superman 64 or E.T. Superman 64 was an abysmal failure of a game, and E.T. outright s&$* the bed, but Superman 64 serves as my first memory of feeling truly powerful in a video game, while E.T. was a product of its time. Both games had numerous peers that were far worse, but aren’t even remembered in history. Custard’s Revenge is a little spoken of game that never hits a “worst games ever” list, despite literally being about raping Native Americans.

So let’s all take deep breaths this 4th of July, find that game in our lives we unfairly called “the worst” and then kick ass and chew bubble gum, but strangely find ourselves out of gum.

Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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