Anthony's Film Review
Duke Nukem Forever
(Video Game, 2011)
This long-awaited game doesn't do anything extraordinary, but it still delivers an ass-kicking good time...
Duke Nukem Forever is a first-person shooter video game with an attitude. And when I say attitude, I'm talking about a game where the testosterone, adrenaline, muscle, blood, octane, and fire are cranked up several notches. If you love killing aliens, firing awesome weapons, causing big explosions, and looking at sexy babes (or at least don't mind their presence), you'll enjoy this game. Now, I know what you're thinking. This is a game that has been delayed for over a decade. A game like that should deliver a whole lot more than shooter games from roughly ten years before.
Before I comment on that, here's a quick history of the Duke Nukem video games for anyone who's curious. The first game in the series is a 1991 two-dimensional scrolling platform action game, featuring Duke as a typical sci-fi hero stopping the evil Dr. Proton. This was followed two years later by Duke Nukem II, which is like the first game but with better graphics, plus the first sign that Duke is an egocentric guy: the fact that he wrote a book called Why I'm So Great. After that, Duke Nukem 3D in 1996 redefined the series, changing the genre to a first-person shooter with violence and sexual content and also making Duke macho, foul-mouthed, and just plain chauvinistic. The fourth game, Duke Nukem Forever, was planned after the success of Duke Nukem 3D, but due to many factors that I won't get into, the game's development was prolonged and delayed until its release in 2011, 15 years after its predecessor.
I will admit that I was not among the fans who impatiently waited all that time for a new Duke Nukem game. But even if I was, I'm not sure if I would have high expectations. When it comes to video games, I usually ask myself just one question: does it provide a fun gaming experience overall? For Duke Nukem Forever, the answer is certainly yes. In fact, when I started playing it, I was quite taken by its excellent graphics, intense gameplay during the action, and even the humor of Duke's one-liners. Yes, the game is a straightforward shooter game where you, the player, just follows a linear path clearly laid out for you. But hey, it's still a lot of fun.
Here's the plot of Duke Nukem Forever. At this point in the series, the world practically worships him. Duke now lives at the top of a 69-floor Las Vegas casino hotel called the Lady Killer. (Obviously, the number of floors was deliberately chosen to suit Duke's sexuality.) His two girlfriends are a skimpy schoolgirl-dressed pop music duo named the Holsom Twins. (A reference to the Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley?) Other locations that are named in his honor include the Museum of Duke (located in the Lady Killer casino, featuring screenshots from the first three Duke Nukem games as exhibits), the Duke Burger fast food restaurant, and the Duke Dome football stadium. (Then there's a spoof of the real-life Bellagio hotel called the Fellatio hotel, something that definitely made me laugh.)
As the story begins, Duke goes downstairs from his luxury apartment to a taping of the Damn! It's Late Show with Johnny O'Lenoman (clearly a mashup of Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, and David Letterman). Unfortunately, the taping gets cancelled because aliens are invading Vegas. Duke has to kill some aliens, get some guns, and make his way to a big weapon hidden in the casino building so that he could use it against the mothership hovering above. But even if he accomplishes that, many more aliens are present inside and outside Vegas, and it's up to him to kick their butts.
When it comes to fighting aliens, Duke is no wimp. Throughout the game, his choice of weapons include a machine gun, alien laser guns, a shrink ray gun, and rocket launchers, not to mention pipe bombs, a simple pistol, or even his own fists. Speaking of which, don't underestimate the power of Duke's bare hands. While other shooter games might have the player's fists be fairly useless weapons, the fists of the brawny Duke can get the job done, especially if he drinks beer or takes steroids beforehand. Another sign of Duke's strength is his Ego, or health bar. Unlike other games that deplete the player's health bar and keeps it that way until the player finds health packs, Duke's Ego can replenish itself (at least partly in some cases) if he suffers no further damage after a couple of seconds. Otherwise, repeated nonstop blows will kill him.
Now I shall talk about my other favorite part of this game: Duke's voice, provided by talented voice actor Jon St. John. I cannot think of a better choice for voice actor than Jon. He definitely lends a memorable tough-guy voice to Duke. As a result, I found myself enjoying plenty of Duke's quotes in the game. Here are some examples. After killing some aliens: "Looks like Lady Luck just gave you the finger." After killing some pig-like aliens: "Squeal, piggy! Squeal!" After killing more aliens: "If I promised I'd kill you last, I lied." After killing some rats while in a miniaturized state (spoken in a high-pitched voice): "See you later, Mickey!" Upon learning that aliens are kidnapping Earth's women and also planning to open a wormhole at the Hoover Dam: "Screw the dam. Where can we get back the chicks?"
There are plenty of other parts in the game I enjoyed, but to avoid going on and on, here are just two more examples. At the Duke Dome, which has been infested and turned into a giant alien hive, Duke has to fight and kill an enormous alien queen. This is where the game designers and artists clearly have an amusingly weird sense of humor. You see, this alien queen, even if it's not from this world, has three giant human-like breasts that must be attacked with explosives in order to defeat this creature. And when Duke finally succeeds, he raises one hand and extends his middle finger. Later in the game, Duke rides a monster truck through the Nevada desert. This part of the game is fun because you can use the truck as a battering ram against aliens on the ground shooting at you. That and the truck's rocket boosters are really cool to use to fly over chasms.
So while I understand the high expectations for this game, I'm not really with the critics. There is plenty of fun stuff in Duke Nukem Forever for me to say that it's a good one. The action is intense, the graphics are awesome, the one-liners are funny, and the babes are hot (especially in the game's strip club level). All of it outweighs the straightforward path of the game. Basically, with a game this good, I have no doubt that we'll see more of Duke Nukem in the years to come. With that, I shall conclude this review by mashing two of Duke's lines into one: "Hail to the king, baby. It's ass-kicking time."
For more information about Duke Nukem Forever, visit the Internet Movie Database and Moby Games.