After 12 years of waiting and anticipation Duke Nukem Forever has finally been released to complete the series that laid down the rules for first person shooters in the past.
Introduction – Duke Nukem Forever
On June 14, 2011 the long-anticipated Duke Nukem Forever finally hit the market, drawing the gaze of many gamers. Taking a quick glimpse at the new game and comparing it with the 14 year old Duke Nukem 3D, players will find the changes quite pleasant. Aside from the obvious changes in graphics, Duke Nukem Forever has been integrated with completely new gameplay dynamics seen in the latest shooters, such as Crysis 2 and Bulletstorm. The players are now not only limited to a direct confrontation with the enemy, but rather will have to utilize the surrounding environment to make it through various parts of the game. In addition, the users are provided with a larger set of options to choose from when playing Duke Nukem Forever. The game offers both a single player mode as well as multiplayer.
In the single player mode the user will be able to enjoy the storyline (covered further in the review) that follows up with the events covered in Duke Nukem 3D. Apparently, 14 years ago Duke eradicated the alien invasion, leaving his foes thirsty for revenge. Now the aliens are finally ready to make a move and have decided to abduct all of the females in order to draw Duke’s attention and inevitably trap the world’s savior. Amidst the chaos and turmoil the world falls back on the shoulders of the renowned hero (Duke) yet again. (Read more on single player in the following section)
For those that have already beaten the storyline or simply wish to play a game with friends, the multiplayer offers a nice and simple gameplay with its own leveling system, allowing for the players to customize their Dukes.
Check a quick glimpse at the gameplay below:
Unlike its predecessor Duke Nukem Forever is not a simple straightforward shooter. When taking on the role of a 600 pound egomaniacal hulk with the mentality of a teenager, the task of crushing a few enemies poses no problem at all. In fact, with proper use of steroids and beer, any foe shall instantly crumble into tiny specks of meat. However, things get more interesting with new elements that have been introduced into the game. One of the top highlights is Duke’s ability to change size from that of giant into a miniature Duke capable of getting through the tightest cracks in wall in order to gain access to previously inaccessible areas.
This factor and the need of the player to alter the environment in order to proceed with a storyline gives this game a somewhat a puzzle-like feel at times. Another highlight in the gameplay is the standard car racer element integrated into this first-person shooter which provides for a nice change. Aside from the main storyline players are also welcome to participate in various side games like pinball and hockey in order to unlock achievements and increase Duke’s already overinflated ego. Overall the players can expect roughly 13 hours of exhilarating experience in single player and plenty more in multiplayer.
Unlike in classic Duke Nukem 3D, where a player could carry all 9 types of weaponry at the same time, in Duke Nukem Forever, the player is faced with a choice of carrying only two primary weapons, laser proximity mines and pipe bombs. On the other hand, all of the weaponry can be exchanged rather swiftly since there is plenty of weaponry to go around. Any of weapons that are picked up will automatically have maximum ammunition. In really tough spots, the user is provided with crates with infinite ammunition as well as explosives. Now let’s take a look at the selection:
Duke’s golden pistol: The first gun players will ever get. Simple to handle, easy to shoot with, but does not provide sufficient firepower to ward off stronger mobs. Connected to achievement in Steam which can be unlocked after completing entire game with the pistol equipped.
M1911 pistol: Simliar damage and accuracy to the golden pistol, with exception that it can be picked up practically everywhere. However, by mid-game the weapon will prove to be disappointment since mobs will have “badder” guns and will come in bundles of three to five.
Ripper: Ultimate spray-n-pray gun with less bite than M1911, but the amount of lead provided by the weapon can easily compensate for the lack of firepower. Maximum ammo for the weapon is 200 with 50 bullets per magazine.
Shotgun: Yet another commonly seen gun throughout the game. Immense damage in close and mid-range combat and an excellent contender for the primary weapon. Maximum caps at 28 shots with 7 shots per mag. With enough precision, players will be able to take out all of the mobs before requiring a reload.
Shrink ray: The weapon of choice for those that don’t like to deal with tough foes. This weapon magically transforms any tough-to-kill mob into a miniature version, making it susceptible to a good old-fashioned foot stomp. Major downside is the rarity of ammunition for the weapon.
Freeze ray: outstanding contender for a primary weapon since the weapon replenishes itself automatically. In addition, very useful for unlocking the “Executioner” achievement in Steam, and excellent in close to mid-range combat. Major downside is inability to affect the enemies at the long range distances and in the water (use of this gun in the water will freeze surrounding water and may cause drowning).
RPG: Classic boss-masher weaponry. Maximum ammunition caps out at 5 missiles and requires reload after every single shot. This weapon is an excellent contender for the early game, but later on definitely yields to the Enforcer gun and Devastators.
Devastators: A magical combination of a rocket launcher coupled with semi-automatic machine gun. With a maximum carrying capacity of 60 rockets this should be the top choice for the second primary weaponry. The only downside is inability to replenish the ammo without the ammo containers.
Enforcer gun: an alien version of Devastators with less ammunition but guided missiles. Maximum carrying capacity is only 15, but each rocket is bound to hit its target. Present in a greater abundance than Devastators and is commonly wielded by the Enforcers.
Rail gun: A classic alternative to the sniper rifle. Outstanding for long range combat and a great choice of weapon in order to unlock the headshot achievement with minimal skill. Comes with complementary scope and a 12 shots. Excellent against difficult mobs such as Octabrains and Enforcers.
Laser: an alien version of the pistol. Good introductory weapon but becomes redundant right after its introduction.
Captain laser: an alien version of the Ripper with extremely long warmup time. Similar to the six barrel machine gun in majority of the first person shooters and is not very practical in this game. Commonly dropped by Pregnators.
Duke’s Hit List
Pig Cops: creatures of unknown origins. Look neither alien nor human, but are extremely abundant in the game. In comparison to Duke Nukem 3D these creatures are not limited to wielding shotguns and in fact demonstrate preference for the Ripper and sometimes even RPGs.
Assault Trooper: weak grunt aliens equipped with mere lasers that can be taken out by simple punches. Abundant in the early levels of the game, but not nearly as common as the plot unwinds. Able to teleport when shot and therefore easier to kill with a higher damage weaponry like shotgun or railgun.
Assault Commander: a well-fed alien force officer heavily relying on the jet engine as the mode of transportation. Able to shoot rockets with quick gust of the digestive system and is best to be encountered at long range. These mobs are tough enough to withstand several RPG blows so prepare to waste some ammo. Like the assault trooper is quick to teleport once fired upon. Unlike its weaker predecessor these guys are equipped with the Captain Laser which allow for a higher firepower and must be terminated first when encountered. Major weakness is yet against shotguns and railguns.
Assault Enforcer: a mob equipped with the enforcer gun posing a serious threat to Duke. Incredibly devastating at close range, but easily dealt with a long range with either a railgun or enforcer guns.
Pregnators: weak monsters born with a simple desire to proliferate. Pose no serious threat and at worst will charge, causing the game to go into a cutscene. Weak against any type of weaponry, especially shotguns. Must be avoided when fighting the Queen.
Octabrains: a dangerous combination of levitating brains with tentacles which is commonly sent back to Japan after disposal. Smart enough to master telekinesis but not able to fight the desire to redirect everything that comes their way, including pipe bombs. Obvious weakness is the pipe bomb since they will pull it towards themselves as long as it is thrown their way. (Especially useful in fighting Octaking)
After stopping the alien invasion, Duke has been proclaimed as the world’s hero and has been clearly pampered as such. The events start out in the quiet, secluded residence of Duke Nukem: a skyscraper hotel raised in Duke’s honor in the middle of Las Vegas. While he is peacefully walking to a talk show, Duke’s residence gets ambushed by alien from the mothership that seems to have illegally parked over Vegas for a few hours. The ambush results in the complete demolition of the hotel resulting in Duke taking disciplinary actions against the naughty aliens that have decided to abduct all of the Vegas’s hottest females (including Duke’s own girlfriends Mary and Kate Holsom) in order to procreate. Though urged by the President not to take any rash actions, Duke is quick to respond to the attack and is able to escape from the crumbling hotel by overdosing on steroids and imbibing large amounts of beer. While in the hotel, Duke learns the news that his girlfriends are kept in the Duke Dome and swiftly moves on the place in order to rescue his babes.
In attempt to rescue the captives trapped inside the dome, Duke struggles with size and has to settle for slightly less horsepower than he normally would. Unfortunately, the rescue at the Duke Dome does not go as smoothly as he had hoped and Mr. Nukem has to shift his objectives. This implies shifting his focus on neutralizing the mothership as well as disabling the wormhole that is powered by the Hoover Dam. Upon arrival inside of the mothership, Duke applies the knowledge of female reproductive system in order to take this bad mother down. The Queen proves to be a formidable foe and does not cease to pop pregnators until her very last breath. Approaching the Hoover Dam proves to be a much more difficult task and requires taking a little trip through the desert. Duke’s choice of vehicle in that instance seems somewhat wasteful since the mileage with these gas prices requires for him to find alternative ways of finding the gas. Upon his arrival to the Dam, Mr. Nukem receives a warm welcome from his fellow alien friends and has to pass several brainiacs before his can take down the portal. After all is done, there is only one thing left for Duke to accomplish: run for President.
To test the performance of Duke Nukem Forever, we ran FRAPS and played the same part of the game several times to get an average reading for the graphics settings. We used one system, our main gaming system which is described below in the specifications table. We ran the game at different resolutions and settings to address the system specifications for Duke Nukem Forever. It is important to note that we did not have Vsync on however with 3D enabled the maximum FPS only goes up to 60 due to synchronization with the glasses and the monitor.
PC MINIMUM System Requirements
| PC RECOMMENDED System Requirements
• Operating System: Windows 7 / Vista / XP
• Processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Core2Duo OR 2.6 GHz AMD Athlon64 X2 OR better
• RAM: 2 GB
• Video/Graphics: nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS / ATI Radeon HD 3850 OR better
• Video card special: 512 MB of RAM
• Sound: DirectX compatible
• Hard Drive: 10 GB free space
• DVD-rom: 8x or faster
Our Recommended System Requirements for maxing out the game at 1920×1080:
• Operating System: Windows 7 / Vista / XP
Our Recommended for maxing out the game at 1920×1080 in nVidia 3D:
• Operating System: Windows 7 / Vista / XP
|Silverstone Temjin TJ10
Intel Core i7 2600K @ 4.3 GHz
ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
Patriot Gamer 2 Series 1600 MHz Dual-Chanel 16GB (4x4GB) Memory Kit
Heatblocker Rev 3.0 LGA 1156 CPU Waterblock
Thermochill 240 Radiator
4x Seagate Cheetah 600GB 10K 6Gb/s Hard Drives
2x Western Digital RE3 1TB 7200RPM 3Gb/s Hard Drives
|1x Zalman SSD0128N1 128GB SandForce SSD
2x Nvidia GeForce GTX580 in 2-Way SLI
1x Silverstone 120mm fan – Front
1x Quiet Zalman ZM-F3 FDB 120mm Fan – Hard Drive Compartment
| Additional Cards
|LSI 3ware SATA + SAS 9750-8i 6Gb/s RAID Card
Sapphire PURE 1250W Modular Power Supply
Asus VG236H 23″ 120Hz 3D Monitor (1920×1080)
|Logitech Z-2300 2.1 THX Certified Speakers
Duke Nukem Forever is very light on graphics, which means that the game should be accessible to the majority of the people playing PC games. On the other hand, many might be very disappointed by the low maximum graphics settings after waiting for a sequel for over a decade. The game does not have any “wow” factor in the graphics department, but overall, it still looks pretty decent. At the end of the day, we do consider the game to be slightly outdated in graphics and it makes the game look as if it was from 2007-2008.
Average Frames Per Second (Higher is Better)
SLI Configuration – Left results, Single Video Card setup – Right results
|1920×1080, Ultra in 3D, FXAA
60 FPS, 58.75 FPS
|1920×1080, Ultra with Film Grain and Post Special Effects off in 3D, FXAA
60 FPS, 60 FPS
|1920×1080, High in 3D, FXAA
|60 FPS, 60 FPS
|1920×1080, Ultra, FXAA
|181.5 FPS, 153 FPS
|1600×900, Ultra, FXAA
|215 FPS, 170 FPS
|1280×720, Ultra, FXAA
|231 FPS, 228 FPS
So let’s get down to analyzing the results we got from Duke Nukem Forever after playing one of the Hoover Dam levels. We ran two separate system configurations to measure the performance people will get with SLI based systems and with standard Single Video Card configurations. The results on the left show the SLI based configuration while the results on the right show the Single GPU configuration. Usually users can experience smooth gameplay at around 35-40 Frames Per Second.
The SLI based configuration shows no problems playing the game at Full HD resolution, while keeping the graphics settings at maximum. 3D configuration automatically enables VSync according to the results we have seen to make sure the shutter glasses have proper frequency to operate at, so we can see a maximum 60 FPS in these tests. Considering that even the single GPU setup got 58.75FPS at maximum graphics settings, we can come to a conclusion that mid-range video cards like the GTX 560 Ti, or perhaps even older GTX 460 video cards should be able to use 3D at higher resolutions while maintaining a decent FPS.
If the user is not looking for 3D experience with nVidia’s 3D Vision, we can see really high scores of 153 FPS with maximum graphics settings. With SLI we cannot see perfect scaling because the performance difference between the two tests is not even close to 2x the amount as we should see. However, if we think about it, this would not be necessary because a single video card can already handle Duke Nukem Forever smoothly.
Even though Nvidia developed the FXAA for Duke Nukem Forever, it looks like it is not only limited to Nvidia hardware. Users running AMD configurations will also have the feature available to them. FXAA is a shader based image filter which reduces visible aliasing. It is applied along with other post processing steps like motion blur and bloom to create a less jagged gaming experience for the users. According to Nvidia, “for game engines making use of deferred shading, FXAA provides a performance and memory advantage over deferred shading with MSAA”.
3D Experience with nVidia’s 3D Vision
3D Experience in Duke Nukem Forever was different from what we experienced with newly announced games like Bulletstorm or Crysis 2. With the graphics set up to maximum quality with visual effects, the game felt a bit weird and it strained our eyes. After looking into the problem and setting up the game as Nvidia recommended it by disabling Post Special Effects and Film Grain, the 3D experience was much better but it did lack graphics quality and eye candy.
(Recommended settings for nVidia 3D Vision)
Overall the 3D experience was pretty good and the game definitely had a fair amount of depth to it once 3D was enabled. We were a bit disappointed that we had to disable some of the eye candy to finally enjoy the 3D experience the way it should be enjoyed. This is because after disabling the Post Special Effects and Film Grain, the game felt a bit more outdated than when everything was enabled in 2D mode.
On the other hand the 3D experience does bring in some interesting perspectives and gaming experience when in-game water or other type of fluid is spilled on the screen during gameplay. This can be experienced mainly with the first mission when Duke defeats one of the bosses of the game, or when Duke is in miniature form and has to destroy glasses of ketchup and mustard. The weaponry also has some depth to it, and flying monsters do feel like they are floating in depth. Besides the fact that the game’s graphics look outdated, the overall 3D experience was pretty good.
On the positive side, the game did not seem to disappoint in terms of the gameplay and performance. Duke Nukem Forever offers a variety of different side games in order to distract the player from the main plot and provide a little bit of freedom inside the single player mode. Otherwise, the players are restricted to simply following the plot. However, even the storyline mode can still be fun due to the presence of little puzzles and ability of Duke adjust his size in order to reach further areas. However, the dynamics of the game makes combat fairly monotonous. While Duke is a sizeable guy, it would be nice to see him perform some simple tasks like rolling, jumping, and shooting from behind the corners. In terms of combat, Duke Nukem closely resembles the good old Doom 3. On the same note, the graphics remain at the level of sophistication found in 2007, which definitely improves the performance making this game easily accessible for any system. Introduction of HDR correction creates a nice bloom-like effect in DirectX 9.0, but the quality of textures and lighting is nowhere close to matching competitor games such as Crysis 2.
The story behind Duke Nukem has proven to be rather entertaining, while the level of engagement and difficulty in beating the game was somewhat dull due to the lack of previously mentioned combat dynamics. Performing tasks other than directly confronting foes did not prove to be nearly as engaging as any of the newer game releases. Insertion of the cutscenes and changes in the positioning of turrets as well as customization of vehicles could significantly improve the gameplay. Similar suggestions apply to the multiplayer. The overall gameplay in multiplayer resembles that of Half-Life, and aside from the newly introduced leveling system, does not provide any new skills that could be utilized during combat.
|OUR VERDICT: Duke Nukem Forever
|Summary: Aside from simple first person shooters from the 90s the new and improved Duke Nukem Forever has integrated a variety of other elements to make gameplay more interesting and diverse. For creativity of design, Duke Nukem Forever earns the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval.