Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Defending Duke Nukem Forever

I know it's been established that I'm completely and utterly insane.  However, this next post might actually put me in the looney bin.  I'm going to defend Duke Nukem Forever.


Too many people like to rail on the king with "balls of steel," and he doesn't deserve all the bad rap that he gets.  For that reason, I'm going to ignore all the bad stuff in DNF and talk only about the good stuff.

(Disclaimer: I have received no compensation by 2K games, 3D Realms, Gearbox Software, or anyone related to the development and publishing of Duke Nukem Forever.  I am simply stupid enough to write an article like this for the lulz.)

DNF did something very right with the multiplayer mode.  It captured the non-serious attitude of Duke Nukem himself, and did so very well.  Personally, I see it as the "vacation" multi-player shooter for gamers who need a break from their standard FPS of choice and just want to have some fun fragging and tea-bagging their friends.  The weapons are surprisingly balanced, even for Duke's imbalanced ego.  I got a laugh out of how the level up portion of multi-player unlocks new outfits, swag for your crib, and doesn't particularly impact your game.  On the various forays that I took into the arena, I was placed, level five, against players 15-20 levels my senior.  Even so, I died due to lack of experience than actual power.  The higher level players were, more or less, on an even playing field in terms of health and damage dealing power.

Being caught in development hell for 13 years can do a lot to a game.  Graphics engines get upgrades, hardware grows progressively stronger, the list goes on.  Since DNF had such a long development time, it's rather easy to spot which levels were made in what year.  You can see the levels that were in production when Halo first came out.  Same for Half-Life 2, Gears of War, Unreal Tournament, and others.  In that sense, it's a bit of a time capsule of game development history.  For the wanna-be developer like myself, there's value in DNF in the historical aspect.

Yeah Duke, you keep thinking that...
You know you've arrived when your flagship franchise becomes the butt of industry jokes.  Just the very mention of DNF actually seeing a release date sent video game news sites into a frenzy.  Thanks to Gearbox Software, Ben "Yahtzee" Crenshaw had to make two videos about DNF.  One to say that it should not come out, and then one to review it when it does.  But with all the buzz and eventual hate for the King, it's important to sit back and realize that this game is a big part of the lives of millions of Generation Y.  For the "hikikomori," the shut-ins and socially awkward, DNF was the holy grail of gaming.  It was the perennial rumor mill.  It was the industry joke.  DNF is the game that makes my inner 13-year-old squeal with delight and realize it's finally come to pass.

Arguably the best part of DNF
For a game that spends so much time playing like a shooter, I was honestly surprised by how well the driving sequences handled.  Run over a Pig Cop, and they explode in giblets.  It's so bloody simple, and yet so much fun!  I liked the scene on the highway where the pig cop was throwing exploding barrels at you, and your options for evasion were limited.  That part really had me going.  They really could have included a bit more in the driving sequences, they didn't really need all those bulls*** filler stops.  He's the motherf***ing Duke Nukem!  Just spouting his catch phrases will get you booty calls!  His piss is probably gasoline!  With the amount of beer he drinks, I wouldn't be surprised by that, either...

So yeah, this rant was basically a little writing exercise.  I wanted to see if I could get myself to write a positive article about something everyone hates.  Turns out it was harder than I thought.  Opp has taught me that it's important to look for the positive in things, even if you hate them.  Society is too negative these days, someone has to be that big f***ing ray of sunshine every now and again.

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