I have to admit, it was more than a little surreal when I got the email from 2K Games and Gearbox letting me know that my code for the Duke Nukem Forever demo was ready for me. I think there was a part of me that still thought the game wasn’t going to come out or that there would be yet another delay in both the demo and/or the final retail game. After spending a few hours with the demo this morning, I decided to do a quick “Ten Thoughts” column on it. Keep in mind though that First Person Shooters are tied with Platformers as my least favorite gaming genre, which meant that the Duke Nukem Forever demo went in with a strike against it. Did it manage to overcome my natural disinterest to the genre, or like previous games featuring the Duke, was it one of the rare few FPS to hold my interest?
1. Right off the bat, I love that the demo gives you three distinct difficulty settings, each with their own Duke Nukem flair. Easy is “Piece of Cake,” Normal is “Let’s Rock” and Hard is “Come Get Some.” The demo is the same regardless of difficulty, but it’s nice to have options.
2. Jon St. John sounds a little off as Duke when the game starts up. I honestly thought it was a new voice actor, but after a few minutes he sounded like his old self. Huzzah. The delivery IS a little flat compared to old games. I’ll chalk it up to ring rust rather than disinterest though.
3. The demo starts with you having to press the R1 button to urinate. That was unexpected and I have expected Duke to say, “I’ve got your M rating right HERE.” Unfortunately you can’t aim your stream of urine so it’s just kind of…there. Also Duke won’t wash his hands after (but he can turn the faucets own), meaning that if he was a food service worker, he’d be in a lot of trouble.
4. The game looks amazing. The graphics are beautiful, Duke’s movements are fluid, everything is highly detailed and colorful and it’s far better I was expecting. About the only negative thing I can say about the graphics in the demo is about the showers and how the water coming out of them doesn’t look right.
5. The demo’s first stage revolves around an alien attack by a giant Cyclops, appropriately named the Cycloid. You run around a football field shooting missiles at it and dodging its attacks. It’s your basic first person shooter. There aren’t any funny quips from Duke – it’s all just run n’ gun. A bit disappointing there, but the game play is solid.The battle with the Cycloid ends with…ugh, a QUICK TIME EVENT. I hate those, but they seem to be a permanent part of gaming. However, since this particular QTE ends with Duke kicking a field goal with the alien’s eye, I can live with it. After that, the game then reveals that Duke was just playing a Duke Nukem video game while being giving fellatio by two twins in schoolgirl outfits. They ask if he enjoyed the game. Duke then replies, “It was good, but after twelve fucking years – it should be!” Amusing.
6. The next level of the demo puts you into a canyon with a monster truck…which I quickly capsized and lost. I’d eventually get it back when I got to a crevasse I had to jump and I have to say, the driving in this game is awful. I’m pretty particular about the controls and physics in any vehicle where I’m driving and this was well…it wasn’t good. Of course I didn’t like the driving in Borderlands either, so take that with a grain of salt.
7. The canyon level gives you a wide range of weapons to play with. I found a shotgun, a RPG, a railgun and more. The railgun was my favorite due to the scope. The shrink ray was cure though. The battle with an alien ship that could only be hurt by explosives was fun. You then enter into a labyrinthine mine to get gas for your truck. Do that, bring it back and…it’s done. That’s your demo.
8. Gameplay is quite good. The default sensitivity is a little too hair trigger for my liking, but I was glad that I could change it. You also have the ability to toggle crouching, zoom, inverting the aim and to swap the left and right analog sticks for better control. It has pretty much everything I could ask for in terms of control customization and that was great to see.
9. I would have liked to have sampled the multiplayer, but as the demo was only available to people through the Duke Nukem First Access Club, I can understand why this wasn’t included. Still, the multiplayer was one of the best aspects of a lot of DN games, especially DN64, so I’m hoping that it still holds up in 2011 in terms of gameplay and comedy. It will be weird not doing multiplayer in splitscreen though.
10. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the Duke Nukem Forever demo. I tend to hate most first person shooters (The last two I enjoyed were Borderlands and…Doom 3). so the fact I found this entertaining and fun is pretty telling. Is it a game I’ll end up buying? I’m not sure. Again, I’m not really a fan of first person shooters and I can see the novelty and humour getting stale quickly, but for people that enjoy this type of game, this really is one of the best I’ve played in this genre in some time, so you’ll more than likely get your money’s worth out of it. I’ll probably end up waiting for a price drop though, especially since I have to review Balloon Pop 2 and Agarest Zero which drop the same day (Here’s hoping my review copies of both come early). Maybe in July or August when there’s a lull in quality releases I’ll get a chance to play through the full thing.