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In Defense of Duke Nukem Forever
Who is Duke Nukem, and why—after all of these years—are we still talking about him? One of our readers has described him as a "character that people actually love or hate. Or feel something about. As opposed to military personnel (1) and (1a)." In a sea of "blandness," according to the reader, the Duke is something to be excited about—outdated graphics and overlong loading screens be damned.
When Stephen Totilo posted his impressions of Duke Nukem Forever on Sunday afternoon, the response was dizzying. It consisted of nearly a thousand comments, forming a labyrinth of impressions almost as daunting and erratic as Forever's decade-plus development period. One recurring argument stood out amongst all the rest: the Duke's fans love him not in spite of, but because of his being an anachronism of epic proportions.
Reader evilmajikman chimed in to remind us that Duke Nukem Forever was never supposed to be playing in the same ballpark as Call of Duty or Halo.
Honestly I find all the criticisms on this pretty stupid. Like people hating on it for not being the most advanced shooter, well no *expletive deleted* its not the most advanced shooter. It was never supposed to be.
I am sick and tired of shooters being nailed as bad games for being too different than Call of Duty or any generic war first person shooters. Take Aliens vs Predators for example. It was exactly what it was supposed to be. Aliens fighting Preds.
Another commenter, Ian Paul Freeeley, was content with a Duke title that simply did what it was going to do, even if in doing so it failed to turn the gaming world on its head.
Not every game needs to be made into some highly critically praised blockbuster. Besides, a lot of that *expletive deleted* gets too much credit for its own good anyhow. I'll take this over Call of Duty any day of the week. Pitchford's crew did a noble thing by finishing this, and it's an ode to old school gamers around the world.
Perhaps Duke Nukem Forever is a victim of a lousy port-job to the Xbox 360; commenter richjdonato isn't alone in suggesting that the game is far better when played on the PC.
Sure this game was never going to be GotY material but the complaints I hear of long load times, bad graphics, bad AI. All I can say is play it on the PC. None of those problems exist. My games take a total of 5 - 8 seconds max to load. After dying I have maybe a 4 second screen. Consoles is why your DNF experience is bad. As for the bad AI, well I havn't noticed anything bad and it seems like the stock standard enemy AI that has been used for every single FPS since Half-Life boosted the enemies to attack, run away and throw grenades.
Some readers, like Arctic Tabasco, have argued that by peeling away some of the sub-par workmanship and graphical shoddiness, Forever is, at core, a perfectly competent game.
Without a shadow of a doubt, there is a full, enjoyable game here, that will take a good while to finish as well. And at no point did I feel they padded the thing out with unnecessary levels. The weapons are the good ol' friends you had way back in Duke 3D with a couple alien weapon additions, the aliens are the same motherfuckers as back then (though some have learned some new tricks), there's lots of different things to "*expletive deleted* around" with (pinball machines, porn mags, answering machines, vending machines etc etc.), and the babes are pure exploitation material. This game is pretty much what I expected it to be - Duke Nukem 3D gameplay with modern graphics.
A reader called Muel made an especially eloquent argument in defense of some of Forever's gameplay mechanics.
This is when the game starts to remember it's meant to be a fun shooter as well as just being Duke. The enemy patterns aren't as predictable, with more space to move around. The weapons have real bite and punch to them, in particular the excellent shotgun and the Assault Commander laser (with its odd gatling gun spin-up time, but relatively low rate of fire). There's a real fluidity to the combat as you duck and weave to take down the enemy groups. Some enemies engage from the front, others teleport around you, forcing you to run and gun; there are different options and you aren't just in a shooting gallery any more. It's far better than the first part of the game and, despite the ropey graphics, manages to be exciting to play.
It even—occasionally—feels emergent in a Killzone or Halo sort of way.
And what about the violence and the chauvinism, the exploding women and microwaved rats? Are these lines that—in the gaming climate of 2011—ought not to be crossed? A reader going by 0LunarEclipse0 had some rather big thoughts on this particular quandary.
No there are no lines. Duke pushes lines always has always will. Just because you can't handle shock humor does not make it not funny. Everything can be funny. I've laughed at some of the most racist and disgusting jokes. Maybe that makes me a horrible person. But that is fine. I am tired of people's delicate sensibilities. Rape, Murder, Drugs. We see it all in games, movie and books. Sometimes these mediums make jokes out of them. This is nothing new. You sit there and cry and I laugh. Sorry shock humor is funny. Just because something pushes you to far doesn't mean it pushes everyone to far. NOTHING is off limits. Not rape, murder, religion or politics. Nothing should ever be off limits. If we sacrifice freedom we sacrafice life.
The very fact that this offends you is more truth that it should be defended. Because you want it silenced. Censored. Well freedom means free. Regardless of how much something offends you, we can say and do what we want. Because your feelings don't matter.
I don't support rape and this joke goes a little to far even for me. But I beleive in freedom. So nothing ever should be off limits.
Okay, so maybe you don't agree that how a person feels about Duke Nukem Forever is a good barometer of that same person's attitude toward the idea of "freedom." But being a fan isn't necessarily about being logical or objective. Of all of the sentiments I stumbled across in the still-expanding thread, the words of a reader going by Nivenus—in which they likened a fanboy to a person defending the honor of a family member—were the most insightful.
A fine analogy might be between a family member and a friendly acquaintance. You enjoy the company of the latter, but you've got nothing invested there and you're far more willing to stand up for and defend the former than you are the latter. The same thing is true for a fan and their favored series/genre - they'll stick up for it when someone who is only casually fond wouldn't.
The difference between a good game and a great game is that a great game is enjoyable by fans and non-fans alike. The mistake you're making is assuming that anyone who isn't a fan is an anti-fan, someone who dislikes the game off the bat. But that's not true. There's a middle ground and it's the middle ground that great art wins over.
Fans of Duke Nukem Forever may not be arguing that the title constitutes high art—but that isn't stopping them from enjoying it.
"We just needed some fun," wrote commentor Obi_Al_Kenobi. This game need[s] to be reviewed not against 90's standards, but [as] a standalone product [come back] from the 90's to complete the circle that now is closed."
Duke Nukem Forever Trophy List
The Duke Nukem series has become synonymous with raunchy, raucous gaming, and Duke Nukem Forever is of course no different. It is an action based first-person shooter and it was first announced to be in development in April 1997, and various promotional information for the game has been released since then, but alas, the game has never made it to print, until now. The Duke returns after a lengthy hiatus, and the aliens have returned to Earth yet again, messing up his sweet routine of dirty leisure. The alien invaders are stealing Earth's women, especially the hot ones, and worst of all, they drank Duke's beer... You better get ready to kick some alien ass as the game is released on June 10 in EU and June 14 in NA.
Savior of the Universe
You got them all!
Kill 50 aliens.
Kill 100 aliens.
Kill 250 aliens.
On the Noggin'
Kill 30 aliens with headshots.
Foot stomp 12 aliens.
Judge, Jury, Executioner
Execute 20 aliens.
Kill 10 aliens with Trip Mines.
Kill 15 frozen aliens.
Kill 15 aliens with the monster truck.
Fork the Pork
Kill 6 aliens with the forklift.
Kill 10 aliens with environmental explosives.
Tosser… in the Literal Sense
Kill 10 aliens with tossed objects.
Duke Angry, Duke Smash!
Kill 15 aliens with melee attacks while on steroids.
Eat 10 pieces of food during the SP campaign.
Natural Disaster 3
Kill 3 aliens at once.
Full Body Tourettes
Get knocked down 10 times.
Find and steal a piece of poo.
I Need a Towel
Get hit by 10 Pregnator bombs.
Baron von Nukem
Shoot down 20 alien fighters.
Listen to all phone messages.
Find all 3 helmets in the SP campaign.
Drink all of the beers in the strip club.
Kill all of the catfish in the underwater level.
Doodle something on the whiteboard in SP.
I Need a Date
Look at every page of a calendar in SP.
Stick Bomb Like You!
Put a Trip Mine on a live alien.
Big Guns, Big Ships
Blow up 5 enemy Gunships or Dropships.
Win air hockey with a score of 7-0 in the strip club.
Balls of Steel
Earn a 1,000,000 pinball score in SP.
Flaggon of Chuckles
Drink a beer in SP.
Take steroids in SP.
He's Got a Hologram!
Use a Holoduke in SP.
Drink while on steroids or vice versa in SP.
I Am All That Is Man
Discover all Ego cap awards.
Carry the gold pistol through the whole SP campaign.
Sunday, Black Sunday
Shoot down the blimp above the stadium.
Nobody Likes a Whiner
Knock out the talent at the talk show.
Lots of Whacking
Win a game of Alien Abortion.
Unlock the secret closet at the end of the Forkstop.
Defeat the Cycloid.
Defeat the Battlelord in Las Vegas.
Not Bad for a Human
Defeat the Alien Queen.
A Good Dam Fight
Defeat the Battlelord on the Hoover Dam.
Defeat the Octaking.
Beating the One-Eyed Worm
Defeat the Leech.
Piece of Cake
Complete the SP campaign on Easy Difficulty.
Complete the SP campaign on Normal Difficulty.
Come Get Some
Complete the SP campaign on Hard Difficulty.
Damn, I'm Good
Complete the SP campaign on Insane Difficulty.
Watch the credits all the way through.
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