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 Post subject: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-20 02:30am
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Having been months now since Duke Nukem Forever hit, I realize this is extraordinarily belated but various issues technical and IRL have kept me from hanging around on the internet as much as I once did (incase someone cared why I've been gone for a while...which no one does, sadly), and believe it or not I only just got around to playing through DNF. After all this though I think some people have gone overboard in describing the game's failings, so this is both kind of appologism for DNF and my level best attempt at an objective review.

Spoilers....not that anyone cares, since the game's been out almost a year I think. :P

I've read a lot of "internet rage" reviews of the game, including a short thread here, where people have really taken the ball and run with this "DNF is the worst game EVAR!" meme. I do think some people who know who they are (Jim Sterling!) just kind of wanted it to fail and were more than happy to see the game ship in such a deplorable fashion, I know the not-at-all famous or relavant Bob Chipman of The Game Overthinker "fame" (lol YouTube celebrities) certainly was, but some of what's been said is simply not factually, objectively real or true. Just an example, more than once, including the thread here for the demo, compared it to Daikatana. That's just absurd. Daikatana wasn't just poorly made or buggy it was UNPLAYABLE. I still have a copy here that I've yet to finish because it has game breaking glitches, graphical and otherwise; and it's not just me either, I've seen videoes online of people with the same glitches so others got Daikatana copies just as shitty. DNF was NOT that bad, not on that level where it was literally impossible to play.

Much hay has also been made of the alleged sexism or discrimination towards women in the game, but really these sections are little more than somewhat bad black comedy at worst, and overall the idea of "the aliens are raping our women" goes back as far as DN3D. That's kind of the whole point--the Rigelians (BTW, yes that's their real name) are a bunch of assholes who have come to kidnap and rape our women, it's been a major plot point since the Build engine, hell a whole game (Duke Nukem: Planet of the Babes) was built around the idea that if the aliens ever won, they'd kill off all men and turn the planet into a huge rape camp. This is in a way your motivation not to lose; you're basically the only thing between the human female population as the intergalactic equivalent of the Mongol Hordes. Also the same people who complain about this, in my experience, give free passes to Metroid Other M for WAY more offensive stuff in terms of sexism, so yeah...

Now, I'm not going to tell you this game was "good". It wasn't, but I think, as a fan of the series, I can tell you it wasn't a HUGE failure even. Some parts clearly did work, while others didn't and, really, those that didn't were unfortunately the most obvious.

First and foremost, let me prattle on about the successes, IMO, of Duke Nukem Forever.

I liked the new enemy designs, which looked great by the way, and really led to a distinction between the enemies that the older games lacked. A perfect example was when I noticed the difference between the Pig Cops and the Assault Troopers and Captains in the game--something that, short of firepower, didn't really exist in DN3D. The Pig Cops come in several types distinguished by appearance and weaponry who attack in mixed groups: unarmed melee soldiers ("Savage Pigs" my girlfriend called them, a reference to Gears 3 of all things) who are covered in scars and attack bare handed; then there are normal Pig Cops with shotguns or pistols, and heavier "captains" with RPG launchers and Rippers. A sizable group could actually be quite dangerous, but overall they were weaker somewhat than the actual aliens (Pig Cops are mutated humans not aliens).

The Rigelians themselves, the Troopers and Captains, are distinguished by armor in terms of ammount and appearance, with the Captains resembling Predators and you can actually see their armor come off due to damage as you shoot them. Quite a nice touch. The Troopers are somewhat stronger and more dangerous than the Pigs, and the Captains more so, thus making the actual aliens seen more powerful compared to the mutated porcine cannon fodder. The Enforcers are now instead of fast and agile slow and heavily armored, with a weapon that can kill with one or two goot shots, basically an RPG machine gun that fires homing rockets; and the Assault Commanders take huge damage to kill making them kind of like minibosses, and thus making it seem logical they'd be in charge of the others.

I loved the redesign for much of the bestiary and one of the side characters, a Marcus Fenix ripoff called Capt. Dylan, was quite funny. I actually thought the game overall was quite funny, really, though it DID wallow in it's jokes a bit too long and repeat them somewhat, dulling the impact. Finally I did think that the game played well, for some levels and sections, and some of the set pieces like a platforming section outside of the Duke Dome level (after you kill the Alien Queen) were nice touches.

Some of the jokes are actually quite funny too, on their own. There was one section where I genuinely LOLd when the two twins schoolgirls Duke pays to live with and blow him (Mary and Kate Holsem...yeah :roll: ) are cowering before an alien soldier and one says "Don't kill us, I promise we'll never do anything naughty again!" to which her sister replies "Shut up Kate, if Duke hears that he'll never rescue us!" and I did in fact LOL. Similarly I have to say I really like Capt. Dylan, he's supposed to be Marcus Fenix but he acts like a cross between Ted Nugent and someone with...that disease that makes you swear all the time, name escapes me. At one point, before you enter Hover Dam to shut off an alien wormhole (BTW, the plot is kind of ripped from Transformers 3, with the Rigelians making a deal with an Earthling to teleport their world here via wormhole, complete with the same look as the space bridge from TF3) anyway, before you go in there, his dialogue finally collapses into a string of meaningless cuss words with no rhyme or reason. It was a rather hilarious parody and a genuinely fun character, pitty you rarely see him.

The story of the game also actually takes an odd direction of making Duke something of an outlaw (thought they never go anywhere new with it), and showing the EDF kind of rebelling against the Earth president who is here a complete douche bag. He doesn't come off as any kind of parody of any specific president. He's not like Bush or Obama or something. He just comes off as this scummy asshole who is more than willing to sell out mankind for his own survival, kind of like Dr. McDreamy in Transformers 3, as mentioned the plots are quite similar in a way--hero becomes pariah, government turns on them, authorities in bed with the evil aliens, plans to bring their world here via wormhole, etc. Actually though the President comes off as the real villain here. The Rigelians are assholes but, in a way, this is just what they do--I won't bore you with what is laughably called Duke Nukem continuity, but basically the aliens act this way because it is how they live. How their race functions. Its like those birds who kill other birds' eggs then lay their eggs in their nest for the other bird mother to take care of, the Rigelians seem to use other races' women as incubators for their offspring, every so often birthing a female or Queen to lay more "impregnator" eggs. It's just their biological imparitive. The Earth President, however, has no excuse. He's human, he should be on our side, but instead he's willingly selling out mankind to save himself KNOWING that the aliens intend to rape our women to death and wipe out humanity. THAT is a whole new level of evil, almost shockingly evil in fact.

Finally while I agree with what someone else in the old DNF thread (I believe, Stark) said that John St. John, the voice of Duke, sounded weirdly monotone I think some of the lines still work and were quite funny ("Looks like you're fucked"). And when he get shrunk and all his catch phrases become sped up chipmunk talk its hilarious. Its nice to see that Duke Nukem managed to retain the older, black comedy elements of the original game, instead of trying for a darker or more realistic story. While ironically the subject matter--an alien race wants to turn Earth into a rape camp--would have probably worked for it, it chose to go a more comedic route. Some of the modern pop culture references, including two to Birdemic, of all things, work better than others but only a few of the jokes really fall flat. For example I thought the "power armor is for pussies" kind of sounded hallow when you have regenerating health (ugh, we'll talk about that in a sec) but then others really work well, including little self-aware moments lke one of the girls asking Duke if the game is any good and he says "After twelve fucking years it'd better be!"

So in some respects the game DID work.

This, however, is where the game goes off the rails...

The flaws in the game, as I said, weren't nearly as crippling as people like to pretend but they were quite glaring in some cases and for those who are actual fans of the series (like ME) some can be downright insulting.

First off: regenerating health.

NO.

NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO...and, uh, oh yeah, NO. :banghead:

Duke Nukem does not have regenerating health. That spoils the entire game dynamic, part of which was exploring the game world and "messing with the set dressing" to find med kits and armor and building tension due to throwing you into firefights with low health. Likewise, there is no logical reason for Duke to have only TWO weapons, which also, again, spoils the entire game dynamic and thus makes it unduely hard on the player (and then unduely EASY, but wiat, I'll get back to this). Look, don't get me wrong, I'm the biggest Modern Warfare fanwhore of all time and I played the everliving fuck out of Halo back in the day, hell I had Halo the day it came out in America. I have no problem with the two weapons and regenerating health...in any other game. In a Duke game, an old school FPS like this, it's a complete debacle. That's one of my complaints with Bulletstorm--either do an old school FPS justice or don't do it. Also, frankly, it kind of clashes with the character, who previously carried a half-dozen types of antitank weapon on his person at all times--Duke is not "realistic" he didn't NEED updating into a MW clone.

But then again the weapons are fucking terrible anyway. The pistol, while obviously never meant to be a mainstay, is shit in this game. The shotgun is BIZARRE in that it has a spread pattern that is very tight in close and extremely wide at range, so at long range enemies just step between pellets and in close it goes right over their shoulder or under an arm with no damage, meaning you have to keep them at a very specific range in the middle to do shit. The Srhink Ray can just go fuck itself and that's all I'll say about that lest I kill my computer with sheer, searing rage. The pipebombs and trip mines are still ok, but take way longer to fire off for some reason, and you can only carry a few. In fact throughout this game, I noticed many of the weapons had absurdly low ammunition counts--the RPG gets the worst being now effectively useless due to only ever carrying FIVE shots! Five. Shots. Wow. And the new guns are just complete shit. First off the Trooper Laser and Captain's Laser are so generic and piintless it's absurd, neither one worth a damn either. The railgun, equally generic, is completely worthless. The Enforcer gun is one of the best in the game despite ALSO having a generic name...but carries only five shots so, yeah, worthless. Never got around to using the freeze thrower, so I can't comment.

But really, that's all pointless anyway, because the game's two-weapon limit means you only get two options at any given time. *headdesk* And even THAT is pointless because once you get the Ripper (a three-barrled gatling gun basically) and Devastator (a SAW that fires rockets instead of bullets) everything is insultingly easy. Both are insanely accurate and powerful, the Devastator kills bosses pretty damn quick, they can hit enemies at extreme range with great accuracy, both have unsually (for this game) HUGE magazines and ammo for them is abundant due to convinent EDF ammo caches thus you'll never run dry. Once you have the Ripper and Devastator enemies die before you as if they were children attacking a dragon with water pistols. You basically become what Jesus imagines when he pictures his father, an unstoppable Old Testament god reaping the forces of evil like so much hapless wheat before your scythe. And it gets BOOORRRING doing so. I've never felt so invulnerable and yet so bored, mowing down enemies with impunity as they died before my Ripper's bottomless magazines and my Devastator's hail of rockets. Yawn.

Speaking of boring there were some sections that were shockingly slow and tedious. Not as many or as long as some have implied, but I got tired of driving the monster truck with shitty gas milage about the second time it ran out and I ALREADY hated Valve games for their ridiculous physics engine puzzles (which are so infamous as to be kind of a meme online) so I have no idea why Gearbox thought people, let alone Duke fans, would want their nostaglic FPS game broken up by shitty puzzles. Now don't think it's as bad as many say--it's not, but the fact it exists AT ALL in the game is a major problem. It's not like there are whole levels made up of nothing but physics engine puzzles, but the ones that do exist here and there are quite tedious and somehow even MORE meaningless than when Gordon Freeman does it. At least he has the excuse of being the method by which Valve's porcine ownder exercises by proxy, Duke has no such excuse.

Another thing, a minor issue perhaps, was how bloodless it was. Very little violence and gore in a series that, like Mortal Kombat, was basically built on violence and gore. Yeah people lose limbs and such in this game, heads explode and so on, but no actual blood or anything. I walked through one battlefield covered in limbs and dead bodies...side note, it does do a good job in THAT respect, because a lot of times after a big fight you look around a see a shitton of limbs and enemy corpses and pieces of enemy corpses and you nod and say "Yeah, we went to war here"...and yet despite that, there was still very little blood, taking you out of the game considerably. I'm not asking for a Dhamer Simulator or something here. But what I am saying is that when I shoot an alien with a railgun and his head explodes like a balloon, something should be INSIDE of it besides air yes? If I shoot off an enemy's arm, he should react with more than just going ragdoll physics and falling over. Compare this to the original Duke Nulem 3D which was INFAMOUS for it's gory death animations, like enemies sometimes grabbing their stomachs as their guts hang out, then collapsing. It looks like crap by today's standards but at the time it was incredibly violent. Well...hope you liked it, because now it's fucking gone.

Most glaring of all the graphics are shit, and I saved this one for last because, WOW, did someone fuck up. From the looks of it I'd assume this is the same engine used to make stuff like Gears three but I've never seen it this shitty. Textures pop in, character models look wet and glossy half the time, so does the rock making me think at one point I was walking on ice...come to find out, no, it's rock. And I have to agree with something Stark said in the old DNF thread: the worst thing about the depiction of women in this game is how poorly they were rendered. Because, let me tell you, when everyone in a room suddenly turns into Mystique with blue shimmering scales, it's quite unnerving. This was during the dream sequence at first and I had at the time writen it off as "oh, because he's dreaming" but then it happened again later, and I was like "oh...oh, well, glitch then".

And the ending was shit. Forget the seemingly tacked on "I'M RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! :V" line, the ending cinematic looked like PS1 movies. I mean, maybe PS2, but not what I'd expect from a game today. I literally have never seen modern graphical engines run so poorly, and I played it on the 360 so it's not just because my computer is really shit or something, no I played this on a console and man. Wow. Just wow. :shock:

That being said...

Look, like I said it's not an absolutely terrible game. I've played worse games than this, frankly I've SEEN worse games than this, mostly in past generations but still. It is not the new Daikatana by any objective stretch of the imagination. It's not even close. Hell it's not even as bad as Haze and that game was so bad it's been known to give people cancer.

That doesn't mean it's good either though.

What DNF is, is mediocre. It's a game that was simply ill-concieved on several levels, and probably should never have been released in the state it was. I understand that, I think PC only, some people got a patch for it where you could carry more guns and put the blood back in but that's just silly: this is 2011, I shouldn't have to enter a god damn BLOOD CODE like this is 1993 and I'm still fearful of Jack Thompson and Sen. Liberman busting into my house and confiscating my computer. Duke Nukem Forever isn't the worst game I ever played, or ever saw or ever heard of, in fact it's not even one of the worst, nor is it even in my top one hundred. Until you've played some really shitty games, you really don't know shit. And anyone who compares it to Daikatana for any reason other than sarcasm can just go straight to hell because, really, Daikatana was unplayable.

DNF is just poorly built. At worst it's a bland and average FPS with some graphical glitches. Like I said the main problem is not so much that it's shit as that its mediocre and looks bad. It's playable, but not much fun, but not frustrating or bad either just...meh. And in a way that's the worst part. If after all these years Duke Nukem Forever had been extremely bad or extremely good, then you could at least get some milage out of it, but in the state I played it in it was just kind of...there.

If you asked me, I'd say it was a 3 out of 5. Right in the middle, neither below nor above average, which is in a way the best thing I can say about it.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-20 03:05am
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It doesn't matter if it's mediocre. With all the hype going over the entire development times and how full the devs were of themselves, I think the issue lies in it being not a 9/10 game. Like I said a few years ago: DNF better be able to cook and give blowjobs by the time it comes out, or it will just suck.

The game is a gigantic piece of fail because it's a Titanic. They bragged on how huge, great and indestructible it is but it was fucked up by the first passing iceberg.

Reviews may not have been entirely objective (big surprise there) probably because media just wanted to shove DNF down developer's throats more than give it justice.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-20 03:27am
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It's worse than the Titanic, because the Titanic was a high-end product that had its number 1 selling point crushed by accident. DNF was sub-par in pretty much every way from the start. The only iceberg it encountered was reality.

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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-20 04:27am
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18-Till-I-Die wrote:
Much hay has also been made of the alleged sexism or discrimination towards women in the game, but really these sections are little more than somewhat bad black comedy at worst, and overall the idea of "the aliens are raping our women" goes back as far as DN3D. That's kind of the whole point--the Rigelians (BTW, yes that's their real name) are a bunch of assholes who have come to kidnap and rape our women, it's been a major plot point since the Build engine, hell a whole game (Duke Nukem: Planet of the Babes) was built around the idea that if the aliens ever won, they'd kill off all men and turn the planet into a huge rape camp. This is in a way your motivation not to lose; you're basically the only thing between the human female population as the intergalactic equivalent of the Mongol Hordes. Also the same people who complain about this, in my experience, give free passes to Metroid Other M for WAY more offensive stuff in terms of sexism, so yeah...


Man, I'm not even going to bother arguing about this with you, but I will say that "It's not abc because previous iterations have similar themes" is a shitty defence under any circumstances.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-22 03:00am
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Zablorg wrote:
18-Till-I-Die wrote:
Much hay has also been made of the alleged sexism or discrimination towards women in the game, but really these sections are little more than somewhat bad black comedy at worst, and overall the idea of "the aliens are raping our women" goes back as far as DN3D. That's kind of the whole point--the Rigelians (BTW, yes that's their real name) are a bunch of assholes who have come to kidnap and rape our women, it's been a major plot point since the Build engine, hell a whole game (Duke Nukem: Planet of the Babes) was built around the idea that if the aliens ever won, they'd kill off all men and turn the planet into a huge rape camp. This is in a way your motivation not to lose; you're basically the only thing between the human female population as the intergalactic equivalent of the Mongol Hordes. Also the same people who complain about this, in my experience, give free passes to Metroid Other M for WAY more offensive stuff in terms of sexism, so yeah...


Man, I'm not even going to bother arguing about this with you, but I will say that "It's not abc because previous iterations have similar themes" is a shitty defence under any circumstances.


You're absolutely right, let me be more exact.

A lot of people talk about the alleged sex and sexual violence in Duke Nukem, in general, including DNF but actually there is very little sex at all. One or two times we see CONSENTUAL sex between adults in the series. Most of the women are not actually portrayed that badly, per se--there are a few prostitutes and stippers, but they're not supposed to represent the whole of all women or anything. We actually see several women who are nothing of the sort--in Duke Nukem Advance for example, one of them is basically Duke's Cortana, named Jenny and we see a young woman with a kid in DNF. Yes she's wearing a shirt that says "Got MILF" and Duke makes a remark about it, but she's not dressed revealingly at all (a shirt and jeans) and she's not throwing herself at him or anything. The Twins do but then again, they're Duke's girlfriends, and there are strippers in DNF who do but that's in a dream sequence and not ACTUAL women. At worst this means Duke is a horndog who dreams about sex even when injured and bleeding out in an alien hive.

The women who are being brutalized by the aliens are not shown to enjoy this or anything, in fact it is the aliens motive that is the driving plot of the games. The idea is that YOU have to STOP this from happening, and when the girls are killed it's because there is nothing that can be done to save them. Like the character from the movie Aliens who was impregnated by a facehugger and then begged to be killed, similarly in many of the Duke Nukem games the "podgirls" (women infested by the aliens) will say "Kill me" or something similar because they know what horrible fate awaits them. This is NOT portrayed as a good thing, or right, or any sign that these women are inferior or diserved this or the like...the aliens are the villains, they're doing this because they're basically parasites, and it is portrayed as nothing short of horrifying and monstrous that they do. The aliens' biological imparitive is to rape and impregnate women yes, but even then THEY don't do it themselves, they use biomechanical devices called Pregnators to do so. So even then it's not actual sexual, its purely just the aliens' twisted, parasitical reproductive cycle.

So while one could argue that the game does sexualize women extensively, it's not actually, I would think anyway, actually sexist or discriminatory. It doesn't attempt to say women are inferior or that they diserve or enjoy being sexually assaulted...in fact the dialogue from some of the captured women is precisely the opposite. In a way I think that, the worst you can say is that the tonal shift between "funny black comedy shooter" to "horrific expose on parasite aliens' reproduction cycle" was truly shocking to people, but I really don't think an argument can be genuinely made for it being sexist. At least not by any definition of the word that I know of.

As far as I understand it sexism is basically viewing women as inferior and discriminating against them. But that isn't ever really born out in the games. And while the game was considered infamous in the 90s for sexual content very little actual sex has ever happened in the Duke Nukem series, though much is implied at no point is anything sexual depicted on screen save for once or twice. Now of course maybe I misunderstand exactly what sexism is but I really don't think one can make a genuine argument for that in the Duke Nukem series. Sexualizing women yes. Maybe even sexual exploitation, but I don't think actual sexism or discrimination.


Anyway, look, I'm not saying the game is great or even good. What I'm saying is that everyone just kind of over reacted to it. Between the people (seemingly genuinely) calling it Daikatana 2, to the internet rage that exploded the week after it came out to some review sites basically declaring it Rape: the Game of the Movie, some people I think looked at "mediocre shooter reskinned from Unreal Tournament" and saw Duke Nukem reaching back through the mists of time to high five Hitler. I'm not saying I'd ever give it above a bland three out of five, I'm saying a lot of people lost perspective.

That being said maybe I'm just being too soft--I decided to replay one level today (it's the crazy shit with the "move the pipes to create a steam jet" puzzle) and it was in fact awful. Still not Daikatana bad, but really that's a low bar if there ever was one.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-22 05:30am
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18-Till-I-Die wrote:
The women who are being brutalized by the aliens are not shown to enjoy this or anything, in fact it is the aliens motive that is the driving plot of the games. The idea is that YOU have to STOP this from happening, and when the girls are killed it's because there is nothing that can be done to save them. Like the character from the movie Aliens who was impregnated by a facehugger and then begged to be killed, similarly in many of the Duke Nukem games the "podgirls" (women infested by the aliens) will say "Kill me" or something similar because they know what horrible fate awaits them. This is NOT portrayed as a good thing, or right, or any sign that these women are inferior or diserved this or the like...the aliens are the villains, they're doing this because they're basically parasites, and it is portrayed as nothing short of horrifying and monstrous that they do. The aliens' biological imparitive is to rape and impregnate women yes, but even then THEY don't do it themselves, they use biomechanical devices called Pregnators to do so. So even then it's not actual sexual, its purely just the aliens' twisted, parasitical reproductive cycle.


Except that of course Duke spouts one-liners about the situation the entire time and you can stop and smack titties that are embedded in the walls while the cries of dying women echo all around you, which rather detracts from whatever sort of terrible serious business the whole scenario is supposed to represent.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-22 07:16pm
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Yeah, let's just step back a moment and recall that Duke's line when his girlfriends explode due to alien rape babies is 'you're fucked'. Not only is that fucking disgustingly psychopathic, it's not even a good one liner.

But man it's a fucking lol that someone would say 'look they use a machine it's not actually sexual' as though this somehow makes up for the huge misuse of rape in what is supposed to be a goofy laugh a minute shitblaster of an 80s movie throwback video game. Or how about reasoning like 'it's just a dream sequence'. You know what isn't a dream? This game.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-22 07:25pm
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18, I see that you're under the misapprehension that Duke Nuke Forever is somehow contiguous with Duke Nukem 3D and its other predecessors. Let me enlighten you:

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Duke 3D homaged/parodied 80s/early 90s action films by making the villains such ridiculous villain caricatures that Duke was an acceptable protagonist by comparison.

Roddy Piper and Snake Plissken are goddamn psychopaths in They Live and Escape from NY, but the point of the films is that society is so broken that these guys can thrive. It's a deliberate part of the films, presenting extreme cynicism (Snake ignores a rape-in-progress because he's that desensitized and amoral) with a smattering of dark humor (Snake's nickname apparently comes from his dick tattoo).

Duke 3D's pig cops were in a context where the Rodney King beating and the LA riots were still fresh in people's minds. Not only that, but the villains behind the pigs were basically rapists - the cheesy "mars needs women" premise getting a gruesome subversion with the Aliens-referencing outcome. Duke 3D didn't joke about the rape. It treated rape as a serious problem equivalent to racism and class warfare, to which Duke was a source of catharsis if not any actual social change. (Duke is was a parodic figure specifically because, despite being a working-class shmoe, he's so unenlightened that he's exclusively driven by basic urges to fuck and kill.)

The women and civilians in Duke 3D were just "normal" people doing their jobs, even if they are strippers or whatever. In other words, they're us. They're the folks feeling oppressed by the government corruption and other social ills, who are crying out for a populist hero to save them. That Duke is ultimately an idiot gave the game a measure of honest-to-god complexity.

DNF treats these "normal" characters with relentless and utter contempt.

Any pretense that Duke was a working-class hero have been dropped, as now he's a apparently a billionaire in a solid-gold penthouse with a fucking throne. The aliens no longer represent police corruption or the patriarchy, but rather, "foreign cultures" (see: the WMD joke). And, obviously, they joke about the rape now because the people being raped are no longer audience stand-ins, but rather a bunch of semi-conscious inhuman inferiors.

(What makes the Olsen twins so objectionable that they need to get taken down several pegs anyways? Besides that they're female, of course. Since when did they represent "wholesomeness" and why is wholesomeness the enemy now?)

The aliens are basically now equivalent to Duke. The line separating him from the baddies is altogether erased. He's not defending anything good, even accidentally, because instead of reacting against the status quo (however clumsily) Duke is the status quo now. And it's fucking unbearable.


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The gameplay is intrinsically tied up in the storyline.

In Duke Nukem 3D, the environments, NPC characters and overall production design are relatively 'realistic', which is contrasted with Duke's superhuman run-and-gun ability and total lack of psychological complexity to emphasize that, yes, this guy is a cartoon like Bugs Bunny - but also a transgressive and rebellious figure because of that cartoonishness. The gameplay in DN3D is a huge component of Duke's characterization.

The strippers in DN3D are just women who strip. They didn't shriek innuendos at you at all. They didn't declare themselves stupid in scripted sequences. They did their jobs in exchange for money. Again, the interactive world was 'realistic' (for a 1996 game) and Duke was the cartoon avenging force who flew down to Earth to right the wrongs. Kinda.

(People have noted that in Duke II, Duke is a full-fledged celebrity. But that's part of the 80s action parody - Duke is simultaneously an everyman and a celebrity, a blue-collar Joe and a relentless killing machine. But in the grand scheme of things, he's far more populist hero than elitist billionaire. Think of the Ghostbusters - beloved by the public despite being impoverished, uncouth and totally reckless. Duke is a similar underdog. The aliens in Duke II interrupt his TV appearance and steal his moment in the spotlight, because Duke just can't catch a break!)

BeanTaco hit it right on the head: Duke in DNF is clearly an entirely different character, to the point of being essentially the opposite character. He's an impostor.

With the 2-weapon thing and the slower movement, Fake-Duke is 'realistic'* while the world is cartoonishly exaggerated. Women are literally subhuman cock-hungry idiots and not just perceived that way by a flawed protagonist. The president is a liberal pantywaist caricature who (allegedly) gets his comeuppance when Fake-Duke "proves" that the world does need another George W. Bush. Y'know, someone who's motivated by sheer literal prejudice - we don't need no evidence of WMDs. Those alien Iraqis are obviously going to rape our (white) women because, naturally, that's what they do.

It bears repeating that the "normal" people in these games represent you, the Duke's Bro. Those moronic groupies sucking Fake-Duke's cock and getting raped are you.

(IMAGE MISSING)
Fig. 1: Your Face Here.

These NPCs are so ridiculously idiotic and annoying that Duke actually appears rational, levelheaded and intelligent by comparison. The first hour or so of the game is spent with Fake-Duke just walking around gawking at the absurdity around him, because he's normal now. DNF is almost evangelical about this. If you're not like Duke, the game says, you're a fucking moron and a bitch.

Even DNF's cover shows Duke, from the perspective of a kneeling person, holding his gun like a cock. The game's box is telling you to suck Duke's dick. I guess it's truth-in-advertising.

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Fig. 2: John Romero's about to make you his bitch.

Of course, that's not the real Duke. Duke fought the pigs, not his fellow man. Plus, the point of DN3D and earlier games, to an extent, is that no-one can be Duke. He's an amoral force of nature. He's a superhuman wish-fulfillment character. He's a cartoon.


*The DNF health system, bizarrely, goes in the opposite direction, replacing reasonably plausible sci-fi health pickups with the purely fantastic 'ego' system. So while Duke3D is a mortal (every)man who transcends his situation through impossible skills and bravado, Fake Duke is immortal despite lacking much remarkable talent or courage.


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While this is true, DNF's main thrust is just to insult its audience constantly. It's fairly unambiguous about this from the start, with the irritating and awful Duke fans. Then the game directly equates the protagonist to George W. Bush and makes him a closet racist. I doubt that the people responsible are sincerely pro-Iraq-War republicans, so what's the joke? Is it that Duke is stupid and evil, even though the game stacks the deck and proves him absolutely and immediately correct? Is it that DNF itself is intrinsically stupid and evil? That's much more likely.

Keep in mind that this is tied into the theme of Duke's 'relevance'. "Is he just a relic?" The intended controversy over Fake-Duke's neoconservatism is directly tied to the questionable existence of DNF itself. The game declares outright that it has one purpose: to serve as a refreshing blast of oldschool "political incorrectness", which we need in today's world because of... spineless democrats, evil brown people and "vapid cunts"?

That's not to say that the people responsible are raging tea-partiers. I actually strongly doubt it, as they were probably just attempting to be 'edgy' and self-satirical. "Ha-ha Duke3D was really neoconservative and racist wasn't he?" (Again though, this stacks the deck. Were Roddy Piper, Ash from Evil Dead and all the other characters that inspired Duke neoconservatives? Nope. They were, for the most part, libertarians at worst - and most of them are morally ambiguous antiheroes besides. Duke3D, after all, hates authority and his two main character traits are his love of guns and pornography. The creators are satirizing aspects of the character that never actually existed.)

However, it doesn't ultimately matter if DNF is sincerely oblivious or is deliberately being terrible as a fuck-you on anyone "dumb enough" to pay for it. DNF is fundamentally asking sensible people to reject it and every message it conveys. Like when they insult Halo's regenerating health while simultaneously using that exact system - that's not a contradiction. They're simply admitting, intentionally or not, that they've made a bad game. Again, the political themes are directly tied to the gameplay mechanics (or lack thereof).

There's really nothing in the game worth embracing, where DN3D had a valuable amount of juvenile-but-valid anti-authoritarianism and commentary on action hero tropes and how they relate to interactive fiction. While you do play as Duke in DN3D, his constant interjections prevent total 'immersion', leaving the women - surprisingly enough - the more relatable, human characters.

No-one in DNF appears relatable, leaving its Duke-shaped void the closest thing to a human experience they could muster.


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I hope that, by this point, it's clear I'm an admirer of Duke 3D. If DNF is specifically targeted towards Duke 3D fans, they've hit the wrong ones. I mean, very little of DNF is the same as Duke 3D, besides trivial stuff like how the weapons look.

These fans apparently didn't care about the gameplay or the storyline or, really, anything about DN3D besides the sheer fact of the pixelated tits and swear words. Like, not even what the swear words and tits mean in context, their comedic effect and whatnot. You could just play Halo with a nudity mod and a fart noise soundboard, and it would be a roughly equivalent - if not superior - Duke Nukem experience to what DNF provides. Which is to say that it doesn't really provide one at all.

These are the fans you always encounter who love something but don't (or won't) consider why. So they make outrageous and indulgent demands that end up backfiring. "I want a sequel to Terminator where it's in the future now and we see people shooting robots and Christian Bale is in it and he saves the day." Etc.

You'll always encounter pockets of fans who claim to be actually satisfied by this crummy fanservice. Because if you go through the checklist, the game does admittedly have a breast, a swear, a shrink-ray and the appropriate brand name/logo. Who cares about the implementation? Fans can consider themselves officially serviced - but to what end?


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An actual Duke's Bro would know from the level "XXX-Stacy" in the Atomic Edition of DN3D that the real Duke was never a misogynist, but is simply into light S&M and even some femdom action on the side to mix things up.

On encountering two lipstick lesbians being spanked by a butch dominatrix on the set of Sister Act V, Duke exclaims "my kind of party!" This dominatrix actually insults and degrades him - yet, despite the character's reputation as an uncompromisingly brutish individual, this is Duke's kind of party. Not a fetch quest for a dildo in a tiny strip club. Strip clubs are small-time. They're the first level. Duke's fantasy is to spank a submissive woman while simultaneously being called pathetic by a leather-clad gal with a whip.

The dominatrix actually looks a lot like Duke, as folks have noted, giving the whole thing a mildly homoerotic vibe, but what this also demonstrates is that being Duke is a gendered fantasy that transcends biological sex. Not only is a female Duke possible, she's desirable to the Duke himself - as a relative equal, even. This understated intelligence is leagues outside the grasp of whoever made DNF what it is.

DN3D was offensive in valuable ways. You didn't need to invoke regressive anti-intellectualism and incuriousity to justify it, because DN3D was much more than just a fecal simulation.


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The danger here is in considering it 'just' perception. That everything is subjective does not make every subjective opinion equivalent in worth.

While DNF can certainly be considered "good" at generating nihilistic despair (and some people do apparently enjoy the game's directionless, quasi-misanthropic hatred of life itself - thanks to "irony" or some other cultivated indifference), this approach to Duke Nukem can be considered invalid when held against other, much more valuable approaches.

Like, for example, rejecting this equivocating heap and experiencing instead the unqualified joy and vibrancy of Duke 3D.

It's simply correct to dismiss the Fake-Duke who would have you fellate his gun, and to celebrate the real Duke who fought to satisfy women of all stripes as well as himself. The real Duke was ultimately a figure of sexual liberation, and to conflate that with this bizarre rape-culture stuff is totally un-Duke. And you always bet on Duke!

What people seemingly forgot is that betting on Duke necessarily requires being able to discern which Duke is real and which is a shit-golem lookalike. You don't bet on shit. You bet on Duke.



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I mean, how often am I to enter a game of riddles with the author, where they challenge me with some strange and confusing and distracting device, and I'm supposed to unravel it and go "I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE" and take great personal satisfaction and pride in our mutual cleverness?

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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-22 07:26pm
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Even all that aside, things like whole areas with no music set, the horrible skyboxing where outside is obviously just inside, and the gimmick puzzles and map areas with no guidance and only one path through mark it as a terrible (and terribly old-fashioned) game.

Even mid-level shooters like Singularity, Vanquish, and the like are streets (and literally a decade) ahead.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-22 07:36pm
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Stark wrote:
Even all that aside, things like whole areas with no music set, the horrible skyboxing where outside is obviously just inside, and the gimmick puzzles and map areas with no guidance and only one path through mark it as a terrible (and terribly old-fashioned) game.

Even mid-level shooters like Singularity, Vanquish, and the like are streets (and literally a decade) ahead.


The same guy called it a mid-life crisis of a game, and I'm inclined to agree. It's built on some horrible hybridization of modern norms (limited weapons, non-literal health pickups) with older norms (bad skyboxing, gimmick puzzles) to create a game that can neither be a fully 3D retro-style or a workable modern shooter. It's simply an abomination at all artistic levels.



Invited by the new age, the elegant Sailor Neptune!


I mean, how often am I to enter a game of riddles with the author, where they challenge me with some strange and confusing and distracting device, and I'm supposed to unravel it and go "I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE" and take great personal satisfaction and pride in our mutual cleverness?

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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-23 02:14am
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It's exactly what I expected it to be. All that time in development hell, it just had too much baggage and inertia to be anything but what it is...

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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-23 02:37am
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They should make a Seabiscuit videogame and have it sell more, and get rated higher, than DNF.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-23 06:24am
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ITT we learn that a game that completely objectifies women is not sexist.
At least according to 18-Till-I-Die.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-23 07:39am
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What I'm getting here is that 18 doesn't understand that sexism is more than people explicitly saying "Women are the worst". It, along with any problematic -ism you care to name, tends to be far more systematic in nature. They relate to smaller and far more ingrained things like the casual use of language and rhetoric, and in this case, how people are portrayed in popular culture and what this communicates.

But even giving that a pass, seeing him list off like half a dozen sexist elements in a paragraph and say that it's not a sexist game because Duke doesn't commit genocide against the female gender or whatever, is pretty baffling anyway.



I remember I saw a little dev-diary thing about DNF before it was released, and they were talking about "Capture the Babe" mode. The woman they had explaining it's specific gameplay mechanics was the most uncomfortable looking person I've seen in recent memory. :lol:



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-24 05:37pm
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Quote:
What I'm getting here is that 18 doesn't understand that sexism is more than people explicitly saying "Women are the worst". It, along with any problematic -ism you care to name, tends to be far more systematic in nature. They relate to smaller and far more ingrained things like the casual use of language and rhetoric, and in this case, how people are portrayed in popular culture and what this communicates.


Well, like I said, I'm not an expert on the subject so I concede that point then. But I do question if that's not far too broad a definition since by that stance, assuming sexism is applied to both genders, the vast majority of Romance novels would be sexist too. But then again, I'm not going to argue the point--if I'm wrong about what this actually means then I just am so, my mistake and I take back what I said then. Point conceded.

I actually found the "You're fucked" line kind of funny (in a Troma movie, fart joke, push the envelope kind of way, not because it was a rape joke), but then again I found the "blowjob to make the autopilot engage" joke funny from Airplane! and all my friends tell me that movie was written by and for people with brain damage, so what do I know about comedy. :?

Actually, having read through that stuff Bakustra posted, I actually see I failed to realize how much this game sucks compared to Duke Nukem 3D. But yeah, you're right, this game is fucking deplorable. But in my defense it's been a while since I played the originals, so my memory has failed me apparently. I forgot how shitty the aliens were portrayed in the other games, then I went back and played it again, like how you'd walk in on a room of Enforcers and they'd just be squatting there taking a dump and gawking like idiots till they saw you and then they'd be all "OH FUCK, Human soldier, kill it!" and leap into action. They were kind of slobbery douchebags and in this game they're more of a dedicated military, which is a wide difference in tone and characterization.

And after actually having spent some time with the original DN3D again, I really can see how people who weren't expecting the drastic changes in tone and characterization really were shocked by the sheer enormity of it. The original kind of reminded me of Borderlands, in a since, a kind of not parody but black comedy version of an invasion movie like Borderlands is a black comedy version of a post-apocalypse movie.

Though I still like the redesign for the enemies at least. So, I dunno, I guess they got one thing right out of all twelve years in development. Also I'm now starkly reminded just how fucking slow DNF was both in terms of pacing and actual movement. And frankly I stand by saying that people over reacted to how bad this was--even if I were to reassess the whole thing, I'd still call it just average or below average, people calling it the worst game of the year or the next Daikatana are just being hysterical. I mean, it's shit, but there is a difference between something being shit and being completely unplayable, or so bad that its actually painful to play through like Too Human for example, or Haze.

Actually that artcle (?) DOES raise an excellent question: how the fuck did he end up as Donald Trump. I never thought about that, but I guess it is weird that he's suddenly such a celebrity. I mean, I kind of just assumed he'd become a war hero after the aliens invaded a dozen times but then I'm not sure now even how this game fits in the (don't laugh) "continunity" of the others...I'd imagine it's at the end of the chronological line but now I don't even know if this is supposed to be right after Duke Nukem 3D (in which case, I guess, before like Zero Hour or Duke Nukem Advance) or later. I know the Rigelians showed up again in Advance, so since they've not been around for "twelve years" in Forever I'd imagine this is supposed to be AFTER Duke Nukem Advance. I'm not even sure if they're counting A Time To Kill which was explicitly after DN3D, but then again those aliens were the Drak not the Rigelians. Whatever.

And yes, I know that it's silly I know that much about the Duke Nukem meta-story and "continuity", but it's one of my favorite game series. Feel free to make fun but also realize anyone who knows a shitton about the backstory of minature toy soldiers in 40K or space wizards from Star Wars has to be self-aware enough to admit that's equally as silly as me being able to name the various alien races in the Duke Nukem universe and their respective in-game appearances.

Anyway...

I didn't get any neocon vibes from this game though. I think that part's kind of a reach. The Earth President isn't said to be any particular party, nor is he based on anyone identifiable though he looked a little like Ford I guess, but that can't be a reference unless the game is REALLY out of date, like more than what was expected even. It really just kind of portrays the Earth president as being a skeevy douche who decides to sell out mankind so he can stay alive, not particularly concerned with the fact the aliens intend to use our planet as a rape camp or wipe out humanity. Actually I got a vibe more of like Benedict Arnold or something from him, like he could have just stayed on his side and been fine but instead he decided to bet on the other guy, either out of cowardace or idiocy, and fell on his face as a result...I kind of figured that was the point of the Cycloid Emperor offing him personally (oh, spoilers, like anyone cares) like Darth Vader's "you've failed me, so I'll choke you through the TV, because that's not super overreacting at all!" scene.

But then again I get how they were kind of doing something with the opening, how the president was claiming to "negotiate" with the aliens. But since the aliens were attacking like five second after, I took this to be bullshit and he was just a Judas trying to save his own skin which I have to say is more realistic than an unidentifiable, non-party president being somehow a representation of...what? Democrats? Liberals? Why would Liberals side with aliens whose biological cycle requires them to rape a whole planet? Considering how Liberals throw themselves into the whole feminism thing pretty earnestly, I'd figure that'd be a Conservative more than a Democrat. But even then why would the Repubs want a bunch of women to be killed? If anything I think the Earth President douche was just supposed to be some traitorous asshole who didn't really care if humanity went extinct as long as he made it out, which ironiclaly got him killed but he should have asked the question of "why would these aliens, who have the expressed purpose of committing sexual assault on the entire human race, ever cut a deal with a human MAN--something they can't even 'use' in any way?"



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-24 08:39pm
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Maybe instead of writing huge stream-of-consciousness diatribes you should just stay in context. Ie, game is primitive, game is clearly unfinished, game is pushed out the door by a team that bought it for literally no reason than to release it, therefore game is shit. Case: closed.

The awful content of the game is secondary, and pretty indefensible. The best part is that Duke wasn't always that way, and the movies Duke allegedly parodies weren't like that either. Maybe it was just 3D Realms (or whoever) that was. :)



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-25 12:51am
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18-Till-I-Die wrote:
I actually found the "You're fucked" line kind of funny (in a Troma movie, fart joke, push the envelope kind of way, not because it was a rape joke), but then again I found the "blowjob to make the autopilot engage" joke funny from Airplane! and all my friends tell me that movie was written by and for people with brain damage, so what do I know about comedy. :?


Well, Airplane was written by people with a pedigree for quality writing, specifically comedy writing, with a stellar cast, and it was the first film of its kind, spawning the parody genre as we know it. And the joke you reference from the film is not in any way comparable to the scene you're referencing from DNF.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-29 01:10am
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It seems to me that the DNF Gearbox gave us was a disposable shitbox. They didn't want it, but someone had to clean up Broussard's mess.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-29 02:24am
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There's a two-part article over on Gaming Nexus entitled "Fixing Duke Nukem Forever" that addresses the major flaws in the game in a critical manner.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-30 06:45am
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To me the very fact that it came out was such a mindbender that it almost seemed churlish to also expect it to be any good. Or to put it another way, after a million years in development hell it was doomed to suck anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-30 06:50am
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Someone should really calculate effective development time to end this 'in development for ages' garbage. Yeah, it was announced a decade ago. Yeah, they basically restarted from scratch like four times. So... what? What rate of development does anyone really expect was happening during this time?

And Gearbox bought it for the express purpose of releasing it; they had no attachment to the IP or any delusions around quantity. It was basically a giant troll - 'we're the guys who shipped DNF lolololol'.



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my first manager and I spent the better part of an hour in his office asking an insanely hot female employee to go through the "B" authors in the Lit section. Why? Because that would make her climb up on the ladder right where the security camera was and gave us a perfect view of her perfect gazongas
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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-30 07:00am
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The abject failure of DNF to get off the ground is pretty interesting to me; I read that at the time when it was first experiencing trouble their excuse was basically "look son games these days have models and physics and shit i'm not made of time". This pretty obviously suggests that they were having trouble adapting to the new development model.

Did other companies similarly melt down around this time? It wouldn't surprise me if they did, but a brief look at DNF's constant restarts and stuff would also suggest to me that the people in charge were uniquely incompetent.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-30 07:07am
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A lot of games fail during development, but I think what's special about DNF is that they kept finding new funds to restart, only to blow it all changing to <engine of the week> and getting basically nowhere.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-30 06:13pm
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Zablorg wrote:
The abject failure of DNF to get off the ground is pretty interesting to me; I read that at the time when it was first experiencing trouble their excuse was basically "look son games these days have models and physics and shit i'm not made of time". This pretty obviously suggests that they were having trouble adapting to the new development model.


Part of the problem was that other companies scaled up to larger staffs composed of multiple teams doing different aspects of the game in parallel. DNF didn't seem to get past the 1990s model of 'one close-coupled team of supposed super-developers does everything'.



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 Post subject: Re: In Defense of Duke (or So I Finally Played DNF) PostPosted: 2011-11-30 06:26pm
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The elements that would be less affected by their engine changes - music, or controls - were also rubbish. I think people giggling about total days from announcement to release are missing the point.

Frankly depending on how the company was structured, the developers could have been more interested in paying the mortgage than finishing a game. I wonder how much the nerd focus on such an inconsequential game affected the perceived value to onvestors?



Elfdart wrote:
my first manager and I spent the better part of an hour in his office asking an insanely hot female employee to go through the "B" authors in the Lit section. Why? Because that would make her climb up on the ladder right where the security camera was and gave us a perfect view of her perfect gazongas
whatisprojectzohar.com

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