Duke Nukem has never shied away from controversy, but even he might’ve been surprised at the overreaction to the new ‘Capture The Babe’ multiplayer, which centred around the ability to slap the babe’s arse when she gets hysterical. I got a hands-on with this mode and plenty of others, so I’ll let you know if I’ve been corrupted by the rampant sexism at all, honey.
Firstly a quick disclaimer about the graphics: yes, we know they’re not quite 2011 standard. I’d say they’re probably around Prey-standard, or Wolfenstein. This is by no means a bad thing, but coming out alongside Killzone 3, Crysis 2 and Rage dates it somewhat. But you know what? Who cares. Duke Nukem 3D also looked dated compared to Quake when that came out, and no one cared then either.
Multiplayer might have something to do with it
What instead might possibly turn less shallow people away are the game modes, which are unashamedly old-school. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Hail To The King (King of the Hill) and the aforementioned Capture The Flag/Babe. They’re all well-worn play types, but fortunately for the game Gearbox have given them their own unique appeal.
First off, the weapons. All the classic Duke Nukem weapons are here, and they’re so gloriously fun it’s sometimes hard to decide what weapon to drop (you can only carry two). You start off with Duke’s pistol, but there’ll always be another close by. I could spend the whole preview talking about them alone, so I’ll have to restrain myself to just a couple of paragraphs. The only two new weapons are an AR Laser Rifle and a Quake III Arena-esque Railgun, and both fit in well.
Most of the classics have been tweaked, and even the lowly shotgun can be as devastating as a mini-rocket spewing Devastator. Freezers require steady fire to freeze opponents, and when done you can press ‘Use’ to smash them to pieces. Shrink Rays leave enemies small but not helpless, and there are plenty of hidden vents or passages over levels to escape through. The RPG now has a lock-on function, but has limited ammo.
The balance between weaponry is excellent. It really doesn’t matter what weapon you’ve picked up, you always have a chance against opponents. While taking on a fellow writer armed with a Freeze Ray I managed to blow him away with my shotgun the very instant he froze me. I thawed safely, then was railgunned in the back by someone else. Most multiplayer FPSs have the problem where some weapons are simply superior to others, but it doesn’t feel that way with Duke Nukem Forever.
Like this, but with less pigs
Most of the classic and traditional items come into play, like double damage and pipebombs, but the most interesting change is to the Holoduke – it now not only creates a double of you, it makes the real you invisible! You often have to do clever things to get it though. Beers and pep pills can also be picked up, increasing your damage or melee power but also blurring your vision.
I played a good selection of levels and found them all to be well designed and massively entertaining. Duke Burger was a highlight, set in a kitchen where everyone was shrunk to mouse size. Duke Nukem action figures make good decoys, but it’s the frying counter I loved most – jumping from burger to burger and hoping you don’t get knocked off and burnt.
This level particularly boasts a lot of interactive elements which really make the game stand out from the FPS masses. For example, there’s a Devastator in the microwave, but if you go for it there’s a good chance someone could shoot the ‘on’ button and cook you. That happened to me once or twice, and was very messy I can tell you.
The modes on offer all work well with the levels. Hail To The King as usual suffers from players treating it like straight deathmatch, but that’s impossible with Capture The Babe. It really is straight Capture The Flag, but the babes do make things more entertaining (bow-chicka-bow-wow). The slapping controversy is just ridiculous, as not only do these babes teleport (how many girls do that?), the closest they get to complaining about being spanked is “stop it, you’re turning me on”.
There was a whiteboard at the event with this on it. We could draw on it there too. Result: lots of cocks. Duke Nukem suits us fine
There are plenty of maps, but with only four basic modes won’t they get boring fast? Unlikely, because Gearbox have also taken time to add (Valve please take note) Mutators. The only one I got to try will be familiar for any GoldenEye fans who played Slappers Only Licence To Kill – fists only, one-hit kills. We tried this on the Western-style Morningwood level and it was incredible amounts of fun. Throwing Pipe Bombs (we were allowed thrown explosives) in between three Dukes duking it out is hilarious. I pissed them off a fair bit, but it was worth it. Well, until they teamed up on me.
The multiplayer of Duke Nukem Forever is not exactly Call of Duty, but it doesn’t want to be. It wants to be fun, not an obsession. It succeeds. While undoubtedly not a multiplayer that you’ll spend hours and hours on, it does lend itself well to the quick entertainment crowd. If you’re after enjoyment rather than levelling up, Duke Nukem Forever has what you’re after. And I haven’t even mentioned the changing room. You ain’t lived until you’ve punched Duke Nukem wearing a big pink wig.
Most Anticipated Feature:Finding just how many secrets and interactive elements Gearbox have crammed into the levels.