Summary: Legendary [non-]vaporware title Duke Nukem Forever will be releasing soon! In fact, it's just become available internationally as of Friday, June 10th. Those of you in North America, however, can still play the demo they released to First Access Club members last week. If you aren't a part of FAC, or just don't feel like downloading and playing it yourself, Vandy's decided to share his thoughts about the demo with you. Does it live up to expectations? Read on and find out!
The Duke Nukem Forever demo is out now! For First Access Club members, that is; it won’t be available to the general public until sometime after the game is released. I have to agree with those that think there’s something odd about that… They’re basically rewarding those that pre-order the game (from specific retailers, no less) with a playable demo, even going so far as to use the promise of early access to the demo as a reason for buying the game sight-unseen! You don’t see car commercials proclaiming, “Put a down payment on this fine vehicle right now and we’ll let you test-drive it before we put this model out on the show floor!” Well, I’m sure they would if they could get away with it, but you get the point. Yes, you can also get it by purchasing Borderlands GOTY Edition, or even pre-order it to gain access and play the demo, then cancel before it ships, but that’s still a pain in the ass. And to top it all off, the demo is really not that great.
First of all, let me make clear that this is the same demo first shown to the world at the Penny Arcade Expo nine months ago, and surely even earlier behind closed doors. I think the fact that there’s little here we haven’t been seen before is the main reason for my disappointment with it. It is kind of neat to get in there and mess around with it yourself, but you already know you can see yourself peeing in the urinal, draw on the dry-erase board, and kick a field goal with the boss’ dismembered eyeball. The best part of that first level (itself a recreation of a map from Duke 3D) is actually the ability to pick up a piece of crap from a toilet and toss it around -- if that sounds pointlessly vulgar, it is, but do it repeatedly and you get to hear several different lines from a hilariously disgusted Duke. The second and final level of the demo is probably more indicative of actual gameplay since you get to run around and shoot common enemies. Unfortunately, it’s also some of the most mundane FPS action in one of the blandest-looking environments of recent memory…
The desert. I don’t know if there’s a reason Duke Nukem wound up there or if it’s just an excuse to put as little effort as possible into the level design. You start out driving a monster truck, running over a pig cop here and there, and dodging inexplicable giant, rolling boulders, then you use the speed boost to jump over a ravine. At that point, you “run out of gas” and have to continue through this canyon on foot in search of fuel. This is where you start to lose your hard-on, as it were. You start out with a pistol, but then there are better weapons scattered all over the place, presumably because this is a demo and they want to allow you to try them out. That includes the railgun, shotgun, Ripper (machinegun), shrink ray, and RPG. Now you’re thinking, “Sweet, lemme scoop these up!” But you can’t. You can only carry two weapons at a time, and the ammo limit is tighter than Duke’s jeans at the sight of a pair of blondes in schoolgirl outfits!
Not to mention, the only way these enemies would represent any challenge (even on Hard difficulty) is if you somehow overlooked all these guns lying about. Even if you did, you could just run and hide behind a rock or indestructible shack and wait for your Ego (health) to replenish itself. Is it just me, or is that particular modern gaming convention about one-thousand percent out of character for the Duke? It would make more sense to drink that can of beer you find underneath a ruined car in order to boost your Ego; Instead, it just blurs and wobbles your screen (another low blow to Duke’s reputation) and makes you more resistant to damage, which is pretty pointless because of how quickly you can regenerate. Hoping the game would make up for this nonsense with more of Duke’s trademark wit, I soldiered through the rest of the level. Pretty much the only noteworthy thing he said was a reference to Gordon Freeman’s weapon of choice when faced with a doorway barricaded by wooden planks. That right there served as a glaring indicator of this game’s age (it was originally scheduled for release around the same time as Half-Life).
Now, there are those that would say this demo is old and therefore isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of the final game. Well, that would certainly explain why they only want to give it to people who already ordered! But when people ask for a playable demo of a game, they’re generally looking for one that gives them a taste of the real thing, which they can then use to form an opinion as to whether they’d be interested in playing it in full. We don’t want your old press demo because you couldn’t be bothered to put something new together -- at that point it’s best not to release one at all. Other people are saying that they don’t care if the game sucks because they like Duke, so getting anything is better than nothing at all, or that it’s like a dinosaur saved from extinction, etc. I suppose I can appreciate such reasoning, especially since Duke Nukem Forever had two feet and a hand in the grave before its miraculous escape from development hell. Riddle me this, however… Why then am I being asked to pay full price for it?
Firing Points is a series of frank and poignant editorials that explore popular, pressing, or otherwise provocative topics in the world of gaming. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those belonging to the rest of the FiringSquad team, or anyone else for that matter.
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