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Plugged In

Critics: 14 years in the making, Duke Nukem Forever is “garbage”

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Duke Nukem Forever [X360, PS3, PC]

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Duke Nukem Forever

Meet Duke Nukem, the brash, blond, broad-chested, and decidedly belligerent star of a long-running (and much-loved) 1990s series of shooters. You may not recognize him. It's been a while.

Some 14 years, in fact. Although it was first announced in 1997, Duke Nukem Forever is only now ready for the public after a staggering, unprecedented development cycle that would earn it a reputation as the ultimate in "vaporware." Bringing with it the franchise's trademark frenetic action, eye-popping violence, and a torrent of adolescent, misogynistic, potty-mouthed jokes that'll shock even the most hardened of gamers, it's really, truly in stores this week.

If you've been following the game's on-again, off-again soap opera, that could well prove hard to believe. Even after swallowing untold millions of dollars in development funds and a mind-blowing number of man-hours, most observers had concluded the Duke Nukem Forever project was dead, and would never produce anything worth playing.

Turns out they were half right.

Duke Nukem Forever's reviews make depressing reading. Currently running around 50%, the game's average score is bogged down by a string of absolutely disastrous reviews from major outlets like Joystiq, Destructoid, and Eurogamer, which don't pull any punches in their evisceration of its tired gameplay, crude attempts at humor, technical flaws, and outdated visuals.

"It's absolute garbage," fumes Destructoid's Jim Sterling, "that should have stayed confined to the bowels of Development Hell." Slamming its graphics, its reliance on tired puzzles, and (most of all) its bad-taste attempts at shock humor, Sterling sums up Duke's return as "a festering irrelevance...that could only endear itself to the sociopathic and mentally maladjusted."

Enough to put you off? No? The Guardian's Neil Davey gives it two stars (one for "the nostalgia...and one for the game.")

"If this was 15 years in the making, it makes you wonder what they did for the other 14 years and 10 months," he writes.

Wired marks it about the same, noting "Duke deserves better than this." And there are plenty more where those came from.

The hate isn't quite unanimous. Games Radar has a more positive take, although at a 6/10 it's still not all that encouraging. It's "an ugly, buggy shooter that veers back and forth between enjoyably average and outright boring," writes Mikel Reparaz, "with occasional surges of greatness along the way."

Despite the deluge of criticism, we somehow doubt this'll be the Duke's swansong. It topped the UK sales charts at its across-the-pond launch last week, dethroning the stellar L.A. Noire, and it may very well pull a similar trick over here, too. Love him or (like the majority of the critics) hate him, he's a popular guy; perhaps his next outing will recapture the glory days of his youth. Here's hoping we don't have to wait another 14 years to find out.

More Info | Buy From Amazon

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