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Kicking Ass and Chewing Bubblegum! Hands on With the Duke Nukem Forever Demo

Right, this is it, the first impression of a game that has been in development since 1997. Can it live up to 14 years of expectations? Or perhaps a better question is, what do you expect from a game with such a long development time? Do you really expect the greatest game of all time? Well, I hope for your sake that you don’t. When you’re playing a game with history like this, it is hard to know where to draw the line. Duke Nukem 3D was revolutionary when it came out, but plenty of shooters have come along in the Duke’s absence and put their own spin on the genre. I’m not going to talk about Duke Nukem Forever like I’ve been on the edge of my seat for the last 14 years waiting for it, because I haven’t. Instead, I’ll simply tell you about the content of the demo and how that stacks against the standards of the shooter genre today.

First off, the graphics look pretty dated; everything has that overly shiny look to it which is probably due to some old tech running under the hood. Performance is an issue, too - even when I turned the settings down to medium, the frame rate sill dropped consistently in wide open areas with a lot happening. This is one aspect where I can’t ignore the development cycle, as it’s not unreasonable to think that they would have sorted these problems out. All in all it looks like a very early 360/PS3 release with slightly more detailed textures.

The gameplay feels like your standard shooter without any polish. There isn’t the super tight aiming that you have come to expect from this genre. I played through the demo with both the mouse and keyboard and a controller and neither one really stood out, though controlling the monster truck, especially, was pretty clunky with the mouse. 

One major issue, considering that this is a Duke Nukem game, is that you can only hold two weapons at once. When you take into account that everything else that makes Duke Nukem... erm... "unique" is here, this drastic change to the weapon system seems really dumb. The environment interaction is still a great thing about the game though. I’m calling that "interacting with everything in the game" will be an achievement.


So they remembered strippers but took away being able to hold 15 weapons at once. No wonder this game took 14 years to make..... oh snap!!!!

The weapons in the demo are gloriously over the top and feel very powerful to wield, even the standard pistol. The two weapon limit, then, really gets annoying when you want to try out new ones and have to drop one that you’re already carrying. Duke can also execute wounded enemies with a neat looking melee attack. I imagine the weapons in this demo are just the tip of the iceberg: we’re going to have to wait until the full game to see what the game really has to offer. The enemy A.I. is less than great; they all just seem to stand there shooting you, waiting for you to kill them. This isn’t a huge deal, as you shouldn’t be coming to Duke Nukem for a brain-exercising experience; it would be like expecting realism from a Tony Hawk game.

Duke Nukem Forever was never going to exceed expectations, but I was at least hoping for a worthy contender to the shooters that currently rule the market. Duke Nukem Forever is not that game. However, it’s still fun to play and feels just modern enough to be in the running as a new release. Ultimately, though, this demo is not even close to the first impression that this game would have needed to make people think that Duke Nukem Forever was worth the wait. Caution is advised with regards to a day one purchase.


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