The observant amongst you who have me on your Steam friends list (and if you don’t, add me) will have, well, observed that I’ve been playing Duke Nukem Forever tonight. I played it for quite a while, actually, which I took to be a good sign. Here are some initial thoughts.
- “Duke, you’re a relic from another time.” This line spouted right near the start of the game is clearly deliberate. The game itself is a relic from another time — not just in the sense that it’s the world’s most notorious piece of vapourware, but also in terms of its gameplay sensibilities. A lot of people seem to think this is a bad thing, but given my general distaste for the po-faced nature of Call of Duty and its brethren, I have absolutely no problem with this whatsoever. Consequently, I expect to love the game and everyone else to hate it. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.
- Interactivity! Duke 3D, despite its primitive engine, was all about walking up to things and pressing Spacebar to see if they did anything, or if not, enjoying the sound of Duke muttering “Where is it?” Duke Forever takes all this to the next level by providing all manner of things to see and do, including fully-functional pool and pinball tables, weightlifting benches and lots of other things besides. There’s a purpose, too — using these items adds to Duke’s maximum “Ego”, aka his shield. So you’re encouraged to piss about with the world — exactly as it should be.
- Pacing. It’s interesting to come to this off the back of Far Cry (which I’m still intending to finish, but the introduction of silly and hard-to-kill mutants has dulled my enthusiasm somewhat) as they’re polar opposites. Far Cry is mostly about evaluating a situation from afar and determining the best way to tackle it. Duke is about charging in screaming and blasting the shit out of everything, and then punching it in the balls a few times for good measure.
- Whatever your opinion on Duke the game, Duke the character is still a strong one. Sure, all he does is spout one-liners from movies, but his attitude gives the game a great deal of character. Cheesy, stupid character, sure, but that’s all part of what the Duke experience is supposed to be all about. When he growls something amusing after a particularly gruelling firefight, it’s satisfying to be “rewarded” with that.
- Multiplayer looks interesting. I haven’t tried a game yet, but there’s a full Call of Duty-style progression system, with a Duke twist. Levelling up and completing challenges gives players the opportunity to customise both their multiplayer Duke and their own apartment, which they can then wander around, ogle their babes and bum around in. A nice touch.
- The graphics are reasonable, but not stunning. There’s also a few frame rate issues at times — I doubt very much it’s that my computer’s not up to it, as for the majority of the time I’m getting 60+ frames per second. But there seem to be certain things that cause a little bit of stuttering — not game-breaking stuttering, but noticeable. A shame. Perhaps they’ll be patched out — or perhaps there’s a setting I can tweak somewhere. Turning off anti-aliasing helped a lot, actually, and didn’t degrade the quality of the graphics that much.
So. There you have it. Duke Nukem Forever, the game we thought we’d never see. Sure, after this long, it’s never going to live up to the hype. But having played it for quite a bit this evening, I can say with some confidence that I like it quite a bit.