There are plenty of games out there that are bad. However, very few are actually legendary for being bad. Superman 64, Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, E.T. for the Atari. Somehow, Duke Nukem Forever is a game that has that very same legacy, being noted as one of the most disappointing and legendarily awful games of all time. However, does it live up to it’s legacy? Well, to my surprise, not quite.
Duke Nukem Forever is a linear first person shooter featuring regenerating health. Now, that’s not inherently a bad thing, and I was open to the idea of a departure from the normal Duke Nukem formula, but it just falls flat on its face. Levels are linear to the point of boredom, rarely throwing in any fun or clever secrets.
Gunplay isn’t that great either, with all weapons (Sans the rocket launcher) lacking any real kick to them. You just sort of point and shoot, without the weapons or enemies reacting much. Speaking of weapons, you can only carry four of them at once, but you do get your hands on a myriad of classic Duke Nukem weapons.
However, the game isn’t all bad. John St. John reprises his role as Duke Nukem, and the soundtrack has its moments. It’s a shame the same could not be said about the graphics, which are more often than not a muddy mess. This gets worse as the game advances and the colorful areas are swapped out for drab areas.
Perhaps the game’s greatest strength is its interactivity. Tons of objects can be interacted with to boost your Ego Meter (Health) or simply for fun. Want to touch a wall breast or fling a piece of feces around? No problem. If it hasn’t been made apparent already, Duke Nukem Forever relies less on movie references and more on juvinile humor, which is honestly a real shame. So no, you won’t be finding Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker in this game like you did in the original.
The game isn’t all shooting and walking around, though. At times, you can get into a buggy and drive around. It controls decently enough, but it happens so rarely that it’s barely worth mentioning. Most of the time, it’s just shooting at enemies or interacting with objects in the world.
I’ve heard people in the past say that it’s “Not a good game, but it’s a good Duke Nukem game”. I disagree with that sentiment. With a four weapon limit, slow-paced levels, and regenerating health, it’s as far from classic Duke Nukem as you can get. And with awful graphics, bad writing, and boring gameplay, it’s also rather far from being a good game as well.