Thursday, June 30, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever review

The long standing vapour-ware joke that was Duke Nukem Forever finally got released - can it live up to all the hype? No, then again could anything? The shame of it is that this doesn't even live up to the hype of being a decent game.

The music starts the voice growls and those of a certain age will probably think "Hell yeah!" and then the game starts. It's as if over it's long (long) gestation period the developers have looked at all the other first person shooters out there, picked over the worst aspects and bundled them together.

So you get the regenerating shield, sorry Ego bar that requires you to duck into cover to let it recharge, but you don't get a cover mechanic. You get enemies against whom certain weapons have a greater effect against; but you can only carry two weapons at a time. You get physics 'puzzles' that require manoeuvring objects you can't grab but only run against or can grab but can't throw far and have to lug around.

It gets worse, the engine (Unreal) seems to only allow a maximum of around six enemies on screen at time; if one of those enemies happens to be large or able to shoot then that number drops. Even then it has problems. In one battle I watched an explosion draw itself; I watched the juddering shadows of jet-packed enemies try to update on a wall. There seems to be little cause for this; as the textures are a bizarre mixture of high and low resolution and anyone who isn't an enemy seems to be a HD version of a Playstation 2 model; combine that with the pitifully small levels that require a 30-second plus load time between each one and the question is "What went wrong?"

At least it's fun... well not really. On the hardest level of difficulty two hits from any enemy can pretty much kill you and lead to one of those 30-second waits until you get back to the checkpoint; which at least appear with some regularity. When you consider some of the enemies can teleport around or jump large differences to batter you death can come both quite frequently and with some surprise as to what caused it.

The joke is that the developers seem to be aware of some of the problems they've caused. Bosses for example can only be damaged by explosives or turrets as such an RPG or turret has to be provided at the site of such a battle along with a cache of unlimited ammunition. That becomes dull after time; as you probably get to use only one effective weapon and spend most of the battle ducking into cover; running for ammo and then running back again. Even when they mix it up by throwing other enemies at you at the same time, you might as well stick to the same weapon - not as if you're going to run out of ammo.

It also has a nasty habit of leaving information out. Some of the battles have secret timers, doors that you've just gone through become locked, multi-stage physics puzzles with no indication as to how to solve them.

It's a terrible mash-up.