The Duke Nukem franchise has deep roots in PC gaming history. The trash-talking action hero made his debut on MS-DOS two decades ago in 1991, followed by a sequel (Duke Nukem II) in 1993. Three years later, Duke Nukem 3D took the industry by storm. Armed with cigars, a mean flattop and a badass joke for every situation, Duke fascinated the players. I was only 13 then and I remember loving every minute of Duke Nukem 3D.
Of course, fans of the series couldn't wait to get their hands on the next episode, and in 1997, 3D Realms promised to deliver a sequel to Duke Nukem 3D. Unfortunately, the development process faced various hurdles. In 2009, more than a decade after Duke Nukem Forever was announced, 3D Realms closed its doors. For most players, that message was the final nail in Duke's coffin, and honestly, we didn't expect Duke Nukem Forever to hit the market either.
As it turned out, we were wrong. Around the same time that 3D Realms went under, the company gave Duke Nukem Forever to Triptych Games and Gearbox Software (Piranha Games took over multiplayer). About 14 years after 3D Realms first announced, Gearbox confirmed that Duke Nukem Forever was done. The long-awaited title launched in most markets on June 10th, while people in North America had to wait until June 14th.
Given the 14 years of development, many players had extremely high expectations for the gameplay of Duke Nukem Forever. Others remained skeptical that it would even ship, let alone deliver an earth-shaking experience. You could say we were somewhere between the two. We remained confident that the Duke would make a successful comeback, but had strong reservations about the quality of DNF – especially after playing the mediocre demo last week.
Personally, I agree with most of DNF's bad reputations in the gaming press: the graphics are subpar, the gameplay is repetitive, and the old Duke's witty charm is … well, not funny or charming. The game might spark a little more interest in me if I was 13, but I'm struggling to make it through this. Other Catrachadas editors have reviewed it and have a more positive outlook than me.
As mentioned in our coverage earlier this week, console ratings are tough, and the PC version does a little better. However, in the past two days, the Metascore has jumped from 76 to 57, with the latter ratings taking a blow to the game. User reviews seem to be a mix of lovers and haters. If anything, Duke Nukem Forever's long history of controversy won't rest for now.
This review is less about DNF's gameplay and more about showing you how the game would run on a wide range of PC hardware today (and yesterday). Given that it was built using a modified version of the very outdated Unreal Engine 2.5, it's safe to assume that DNF won't cripple Nvidia's GTX 590 – in fact, we didn't even bother to include it this time around. Instead, we have focused on budget, mid-range graphics products and some integrated solutions.