This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Duke Nukem Forever. This is the joke review. The review of the actual game is here.
This episode was first released on 2009-05-27. Then it was voted as the best ZP episode and rereleased on 2010-09-01 for that Viewers' Choice award.
I’ve never claimed to be a humble man. In fact I think I can safely say that I’m unequivocally the least humble person in the entire history of the universe. But even I find myself humbled by Duke Nukem Forever. Who would have thought after twelve long extremely stupid years of speculation, engine changes, occasional screenshots, and presumably several roomfuls of people paid to sit and go BbBbBbB all day long, that the game would not only be finally released, but it would be worth every nanosecond of waiting and would be of such astounding depth and complexity that every previous conventionally good game shrivels before its mightiness like it’s a cold day in the locker room.
Duke Nukem Forever is a genre-defying masterpiece, combining elements of first-person shooters, adventure games, RTS’s, typing tutors, Cooking Mama, and ordinarily I’d expect such a game to feel schizophrenic and thinly spread, but it all merges seamlessly together in a way I thought impossible. I started the game first-person shooting at terrorists in a military complex, then four or five hours later I was in a restaurant on the Moon making ravioli for an incoming alien wedding party. And I honestly couldn’t tell you where any significant changes occurred in the intervening time.
But what really boggles my mind is the sheer amount of effort that went into the fake screenshots and trailers that were released throughout development to give the false impression that the game was an utterly generic brown FPS that any competent studio could have farted out in a year or two. And that the entire team were time-wasting cock sections with the work ethic of an overweight house cat with no legs. And I was honestly taken in.
Another thing I’m impressed by is the reworking of Duke Nukem as a character, because I always felt that while his traditional image (i.e. spurting jets of gluey testosterone over the faces of submissive women) was perfectly acceptable up to the mid-nineties when the world was backward and primitive, it would just come across as obnoxious in an age that has grown used to protagonists with more complexity than a coloring book. Duke Nukem Forever put all my concerns to rest. Ten years after the alien conquest of Earth, a middle aged and jaded Duke is in hiding in Stockholm under the name Vladimir Lestrade, until a letter from his estranged daughter in the resistance begs him to come to their aid. And thus begins an epic tale of redemption and self discovery that will take us from the Swedish ghettos to beyond the furthest stars. And while I don’t want to spoil too much, I was extremely moved by the scene in which Duke tearfully reunites with his daughter and then she puts on a bikini and dry humps his leg.
Every single mode of gameplay in this extravaganza is controlled through an intuitive full body interface. You move Duke’s arms with the analog sticks and his legs with the shoulder buttons. So to walk forward you alternate pressing L1 and R1 and you’d be amazed how immersive that gets after a while. The buttons are used for facial expressions, so you press X to move your mouth, Triangle to pick your nose, and Square and Circle to wiggle your ears. These are all mostly used to endear yourself to the many rascally children you have to befriend. But they’re also used for problem solving, such as at the point where Duke is strapped to an operating table and needs to activate a crossbow someone left next to his head. Also for the first ten minutes or so you can also use the SIXAXIS to rotate Duke’s neck, but then there’s a hilarious fourth wall breaking sequence where Duke bursts into the lead designer’s office and punches him in the stomach for being so fucking stupid.
It’s difficult to pin down my favorite aspect of Duke Nukem Forever between the dolphin races and the gun that shoots dogs and the liberal use of full frontal nudity. But I think the achievements deserve particular mention. It’s not just the usual token achievement every time you beat a chapter and a big one at the end. No sir! Duke Nukem Forever makes you fucking work for your gamer score. There’s the achievement for beating the final boss using only your ears. There’s the achievement for playing the whole game with the controller immersed in icy water. The achievement for placing a Wii Fit board in front of the TV and obliterating it with a croquet mallet. But the hardest one of all is the achievement for turning off the console, leaving the house, meeting a nice girl, taking a sailing boat around the world, having three beautiful blonde children, and finally dying content with the knowledge that you didn’t spend twelve years waiting for an utterly pedestrian sequel to a game that everyone stopped caring about around 1997 to be released by a developer that makes John Romero look on the ball! which is a huge challenge because if just one of those kids turns out brunette then you have to start all over again.
My one criticism for Duke Nukem Forever is that it comes on 14 DVDs. But I’d expect nothing less from a game with such a long development time. And every second is on display. And a good thing too, I mean hypothetically if 3D Realms hadn’t used the time to put together a titanic super game and had been merely jerking off for twelve years then it raises unfortunate implications. It means that not only can a studio be staffed entirely by howler monkeys but there are also investors (who probably consider themselves to be quite serious people) who will pay them to jump about and wee on things for over a decade, while talented people with great ideas for games are snubbed because they’ve never had dinner with John Carmack or whatever. And then when the monkeys present nothing more entertaining then a fistful of poo on a tray and they get sued for all their bananas, a bunch of extremely thick people, who still genuinely believe that something half decent could come out of this rigmarole, would say “That’s tragic.” NO IT IS NOT TRAGIC! If you get sued because you were paid to do a job you didn’t do, that is not tragic, that's how the world should be! And you are a magnificent retard who should have their brain taken away by social services!
But anyway, the point was I’m just glad I don’t live in a world where such scenarios exist. Now I better stop here because I promised Jimi Hendrix that we’d go pony trekking under the sea.
He's not *that* hard to impress: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Our lawyers have asked me to clarify that Duke Nukem Forever is NOT released and this was a clever joke review which in retrospect wasn't particularly clever
Now let's all forget about this fucking game forever
On September 1, 2010, this review was named the best Zero Punctuation episode ever in The Escapist 's "Zero Punctuation Viewer's Choice Awards." Ironically enough, the award was bestowed just days before Duke Nukem Forever was announced to be complete and scheduled to ship in the year 2011.