Duke Nukem Forever Demo Review

They say that 'You Can Always Bet On Duke', but I never was a bettin’ man. Thanks to my recent purchase of the Borderlands GOTY Edition (also made by Gearbox and 2K), I received early access to the Duke Nukem Forever demo as of today. People who pre-ordered the game get the early demo as well, but I’m not sure what’s so great about a demo for a game that they already bought… Guess it’s time for ol’ Duke to put away the bubblegum and start kicking ass. I’ll stop with the puns now. Maybe.

The demo begins with Duke pissing in one of the locker rooms of the football stadium. You can hold the right-trigger to have Duke relieve himself in the urinal. Once you’re done, you head out (without washing your hands, of course) to where armored soldiers are planning their assault. You’re free to draw on the whiteboard, but it’s hard to do with thumbsticks. Whether you make a crudely-drawn penis or just scribbles, the remaining soldier comments on the mastery of your plan. After watching a few guys get wasted by the up-coming boss, Duke grabs the “Devastator” grenade launcher and heads up to the field. You’ll have a battle almost identical to the one in Duke Nukem 3D. The scene ends to reveal that you were actually playing a Duke Nukem video game (so Meta!) accompanied by twins. In case you don’t remember, all of this was already in the previous gameplay videos.
You hear that? That's the sound you pissing away 60 dollars.
Despite the fact it was a throw-back joke, the stadium boss battle was the closest the gameplay in the demo came to feeling like authentic Duke. The following level starts you off in Duke’s monster truck, running over pig cops. After reaching a mine, the truck runs out of gas, requiring Duke to venture ahead on foot. The subsequent shoot-outs and mine cart shenanigans don’t feel particularly in the spirit of a Duke Nukem game. They probably could have picked a less boring level to include in the demo.

The gameplay is more or less what you’d see in a modern FPS. I wouldn’t compare it to something like Call of Duty, since the controls simply aren’t as solid. Many of the game mechanics and design choices seem to cramp Duke’s style. For example, you can only carry two weapons simultaneously, making you choose between Duke’s cool arsenal. Sorry, baby, but Duke's just not a two-weapon guy! This really puts the brakes on the run-and-gun combat that you’d expect. I was also disappointed by the absence of Duke’s “mighty foot”. Instead, you’ll have to make do with the standard gun melee attack. Duke’s pistol happens to be a gold-plated M1911 that’s just as useless as most video game pistols. Don’t get me wrong, the real M1911 is a fine gun, but I kind of expected something a little more flashy – maybe a Desert Eagle or at least his semi-auto 9mm from DN3D. Most of my gripes come from personal taste and classic Duke Nukem nostalgia, but the fact is that it still plays like a subpar shooter.
No game is complete without an erection joke.
DNF isn’t technically impressive in the looks department, either. The best approximation I can come up with is that it’s on-par with Halo 3: ODST in terms of graphics. It would maybe pass for a game released 2-3 years ago, at best. The few examples of explosions present in the demo were underwhelming to say the least. The enemy animations and models looked fairly good, though.

The Duke is in the details with this game (er… demo), however. Those painfully corny one-liners are still around, but there are plenty of other fun tid-bits. Upon picking up the “Devastator” grenade launcher, you’ll notice that it has exactly 69 ammo. Fans of Half-Life 2 will notice a nod to the Citadel overload storm. Another Half-Life reference comes when Duke finds a boarded-up mine tunnel and comments that it’d be nice to have a crowbar. The trademark crude humor is intact, but I’m not sure it can carry the game all by itself.

I can’t help but feel that the demo failed to show us the goods – and I don’t mean all of the strippers that the trailers promised us. Duke remarks “I’d buy that for a dollar!” (yet another pop-culture reference) when breaking open a supply crate. I’m sure if I were to buy DNF, I’d be willing to pay more than a dollar, but I sure wouldn’t pay full price for it. Maybe I’m just a long-time fan who’s nit-picking, but I simply don’t see enough going for it as a shooter, let alone a Duke Nukem game.


  1. you wouldnt know if your ass was on fire this is a great demo with action and humor

  2. I finished the demo in about 20 mins... give or take and I would not call it great. I have had a night to let it sink in and while I wasn't outright mad at the demo I wasn't entirely warm and fuzzy when I finished either. It did show some gameplay for sure, it did have some humor yes but did it do what it was supposed to do? It's supposed to make me want to have this game on day one and I agree with the reviewer, I am firmly planted in the backseat for this game now. Let somebody else drive and let me know how it feels. I will wait for reviews. I am hoping multiplayer will be enough to pull this from the toilet I fear it's going to fall in.

  3. Played the demo and it looks great and brings back the old spirit of '96. The only drawback is that for FHD I need to get some better graphics card. Then let the fun begin in 168 hours. And let's not take all of the DNF pros and cons so seriously, neither did we fifteen years ago...

  4. Fifteen years ago we did not pay $60 for a game.

  5. I have to say that I love the old the duke nukem. It was hands down the best first person shooter in it's day. After watching the demo (not actually playing it) I have to say that so far it has left me disappointed. The only getting to use 2 weapons at a time in my eyes is contrary to a duke nukem game. I loved having a zillion awesome weapons for any occasion to blast away those aliens. I say the more weapons the better! Another thing that has bothered me, is where is the boot. Any other FPS can have knife slashes, punches, and gun bashing that's fine with me, but this is duke nukem! People have been also bashing the graphics and some say they are not good enough. I have looked it over and they look fine, but here is the thing this was the sequel to one of the pioneers of FPS and it should have effn melt your face graphics and maybe even some of that "blow anything up mechanics " that we saw in operation bad company! Just not original enough from a game we were waiting 12 years for. I hope the game will be better then what we have seen so far. Gearbox you too on a project that with great responsibility, I hope for your sake you can deliver or it will be time to hang up the video game making gloves.

  6. I can now see that allowing anon comments was a mistake...

  7. Gearbox can see now that Duke Nukem Forever was a mistake...


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