by

Always Bet On Poo

Always bet on Catholic schoolgirls.

Duke Nukem Forever is out. No, really! It only took 15 years. So now people can talk about the game as opposed to the development drama.

Surprisingly, a shooter that took 15 years to make about a foul-mouthed Schwarzenegger clone did not address the same target market as, say, Shadow of the Colossus or Braid. To quote Ars Technica:

In the first few moments of Duke Nukem Forever, your character pees in a urinal and then earns an achievement for reaching into a toilet and extracting a piece of human excrement. Why does the game reward you for doing this? I have no idea. It’s not part of a joke or important to the story; the designers of the game apparently feel that you would miss out by not holding some poo in your virtual hand.

So, this is not a game that is not going to make you feel deeply about life, unless to you life is poo (in which case, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has entire quest lines that will bring you fulfillment). This is a game where… well, here, look at the cover.

WHAT WERE YOU EXPECTING, PEOPLE. This is not subtle! Look, there’s a nuclear explosion, and Vegas, and aliens, and covering all of that is some big guy who is waiting patiently for you to give his pistol a blowjob. This is not Shakespeare! Well, except for the plays we don’t talk about. This is the very epitome of embarrassing low brow entertainment. This is, to put not too fine a point on it, the gaming equivalent of a strip club. Which is fine! The fact that strip clubs exist do not prevent you from going to a sushi bar for a nice dinner. It’s a big world, and they coexist peacefully. Plus, if you do want to go to a strip club (and I’m totally not judging you here, really) you’re not going to consult the reviews first. “Oh, I’m not going to Spearmint Rhino tonight, the review in Friday’s Times said it was loud and overrated.” NO! You just go! You just buy the game, and you play it, and you maybe giggle slightly nervously as you blow pregnant rape victims apart with your shotgun. You just DO, OK?

This is why reviewers exist, really. They exist to have FUN with games like these. Such as the above-mentioned Ars Technica review:

I have to install and play this piece of garbage on the PC to see how that version holds up, and make sure there’s nothing to be salvaged from the multiplayer.

Or Destructoid:

A festering irrelevance with nothing to offer the world.

Or Gamespot:

While much of Duke Nukem Forever is embarrassingly bad–the kind of game you point and laugh at–its biggest problem is that it’s so tedious…This game takes an icon and turns him into a laughingstock. Except, no one’s laughing.

Or the Escapist:

A deeply flawed game that I would have stopped playing after five minutes were it not a requirement of my job to play longer.

This is what reviewers pray for nightly. A game that is so awfully, joyously unreviewable that every drop of snark they can muster can just masterfully splatter all over the virtual page. Reviewers are grateful for things like this. Such as this review of the movie aimed at the identical target market for DNF, Sucker Punch.

The first is its complete failure to create any sort of meaningful narrative. To be blunt: This movie is dumb and doesn’t make sense and appears to have been written by sleeping frogs.

Now come on. Admit it. The reviewer loved writing this. I mean, you can’t use “appears to have been written by sleeping frogs” for, say, the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Sometimes a movie, or a game, is just so gloriously off the rails that you rejoice at being able to bust out the metaphors you never, ever get away with.

Which makes the hamfisted attempts at ‘damage control’ by Jim Redner, until-very-recently-2K’s public relations rep, even more odd.

too many went too far with their reviews…we r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom

What? No! You don’t threaten people with access to content management publishing systems to stop using content management publishing systems! Much like DNF wallows in the joy of its own affection for poo, its PR team should wallow in the joy of the reviews that point out it’s poo. Link to them! Celebrate them! Give DukePoints to whomever uses the most spittle-flecked metaphors! You’re poo, you like poo, roll around in the poo and smile while you show everyone your poo!

And then, announce Duke Nukem Forever After. 2012 release.

  • Robin Kestrel

    That movie review was great.

  • ScytheNoire

    I want to point out the one’s who gave it a positive review on the PC.
    http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/duke-nukem-forever/critic-reviews
    PC Gamer has become a laughing joke of reviewers a long time ago, and they continue to be so. They sold out, long ago, and it’s why I don’t bother reading them or their reviews any more.
    The game is horrible, and 2K threatening not to give reviewers future copies of games is not an incentive to give them good reviews in the future. It’s just trying to say “Hey, what do we have to pay for a good review?” Congrats to those who aren’t selling out like PC Gamer.

  • DNF is not the gaming equivalent of a strip club. It’s the equivalent of a swinger’s party, and some weird guy who really wasn’t all that hot 15 years ago keeps telling you he has to go to the bathroom and winking at you and asking if you”re hungry.

  • Sandra Powers

    Sometimes, Lum, I really, really love you. 

  • DNF was better when it was the king of vaporware. Why give up such an awesome title in the first place?

  • Sleepysam

    Always Bet on Poo would make a nice bumper sticker, or one of those “the buck stops here” deals for your desk – trademark it – run with it – T shirts, etc…  You could finally make some real $$.

  • The question for me is – is this game a bad game (buggy, unplayable, poor graphics etc) or is it merely tasteless and low-brow. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of Barrens chat, it’s that there’s definitely a market for tasteless and low-brow…

    • The way I understand it, it’s low-brow and not particularly interestingly designed. I’ve not read about it being buggy or poor graphics yet. Granted, after the first review or two I stopped reading them.

      • Lenin

        I’m just disappointed that the game sounds like no fun, regardless of the content details. How can we object to those and rave about Kill Bill at the same time (which is, though, despite its also over-the-top violence, actually a very feminist movie, KB2 even more so).

        So….. this definitely needs a sequel.

    • Cymbaline

      Tremayne: “The question for me is – is this game a bad game (buggy, unplayable, poor graphics etc) or is it merely tasteless and low-brow.”

      From what I’ve gleaned from the many reviews I’ve read, it’s glitchy more than buggy, but has poor graphics, outdated everything, and is also tasteless and low brow.  Also, the impression I get is that it’s not really low brow humor so much as low brow un-humor. 

      Mister Hanky was low brow and hilarious.  He was poo, but he was goddamn Christmas poo, poo that talked and sang.  Except when someone else came into the bathroom, in which case he was just poo in Kyle’s hand.  Duke, on the other hand, just picks up poo… Which isn’t really a joke, it’s just low brow.

      I loved, loved, loved Duke Nukem 3D, but the genre has passed me by, so I was never going to buy this one. On one hand I’m sad the game is apparently so hopelessly terrible, and on the other hand, reading the reviews has been hilarious.

  • Emailschangeso

    Nuke Dukem Forver is not a 15 years development, it’s a couple of months let’s get something out the doors after several teams screwed it several times. So why wonder? DNF gave what every fan expected it to be, only maybe a bit too much so it might be another pointless game. Take Borderlands, exchange the graphics, add some spice in form of a ton of gameplay jokes, don’t you ever think of wasting your time (and hence our money) by making it interesting to play and different from anything other FPS. The people will buy the box anyway. (Always bet on sequels.)

    I’d say it’s not a bad game, people only expect way too much. Low brow entertainment? Sure. Bad game? What do you expect when paying 40 bucks alone for the trademark DNF on it? As a 10 dollars game it’s okay, right?

    I am pretty sure the developers had a lot of fun with it, besides the nasty parts on getting the outdated code and graphics from their predecessors.

  • Lenin

    Oh and Scott: interesting that you/Ars Technica single out the “poo scene.” Duke Nukem has _always_ been about giving the middle finger to current taboos, that’s what people who always get into the heavy moral lifting around it completely forget.  That scene kind of signals that fact to the player in a pretty obvious, 12-year-old way, which is totally appropriate to the game and its intended audience.  Maybe the real problem (other than the reportedly poor gameplay) is just that it’s not as fun any more these days, with everyone so literal-minded, to thumb your nose at the current taboos.  But it’s odd you didn’t take the moment to think about and comment on that aspect, a far more interesting topic for ponderation. 😉

  • Brask

    Which is the real crime – this could have been released 12 years ago.  It always seemed crazy that this franchise was killed by chasing after better graphics/engines.  Its like the developers were completely unaware that graphics/engine were not what sold Duke Nukem.

    OTOH, I am sympathetic.  Duke Nukem 3D came out at a very unfortunate time for FPS – the tech was changing yearly.  By the time it stabilized to the point where you could sell 3 year old tech, they accumulated such a massive sunk-cost it was psychologically impossible to do the Right Thing and refocus on making a game with dated tech.

  • shadowwar
  • Boley

    Great update.  Much amusement.  I could dance to it.

    Oh, and I look forward to playing this on Steam when I can get it for $5 or so.  Should be a few weeks at most. 

  • hurtin1

    (at)Tremayne: I’m curious about that too, to the point that I have actually spent money for the game. It hasn’t arrived yet (I wasn’t so curious as to spend money on shipping). I assuage myself with the knowledge that the dollars themselves are increasingly worthless.

    Though it was a wildly inappropriate and foolish thing to put in writing with a threat, 2K’s Redner has a point about the reviews. I skimmed them as they came up, horrified at the verdicts, but upon reading them more thoroughly, I was surprised how many didn’t just have a problem with the game, but a problem with Duke Nukem. There appears to be a lot of Beta Male angst and embarrassment in an industry that now includes female colleagues.

    As for the gameplay itself, it seems more disappointing than bad. It falls between stools: not up-to-date enough to compete with modern shooters, but not self-aware enough to eschew modern shooter conventions (linearity and the Halo 2-weapons and Halo health that are now in Every Shooter Ever).

    EDIT: Heh, stool.

  • Personally, I thought the Duke Nukem Forever demo was a brilliant game in that it was a mediocre FPS but excellent lampoon of a FPS. As a FPS, it had an unsatisfying balanced experience, it didn’t feel as tight as it should, and the two-weapon limitation felt like it had been neutered by excessive consolitus. However, as a lampoon of a FPS, it was a self-referential humor experience that, while you’ve played much better, is nonetheless definitely worth at least one play-through simply to see Duke Nukem being a ridiculously overblown Duke Nukem.

    If you pay attention to the game, you’ll notice that Gearbox did not spare any effort to achieve that exact aim, just about every single thing they added to it was basically an in-joke that went like this: Duke Nukem lives in a fantasy world that exists wholly to support his colossal ego. These reviewers disappoint me in that they seem to have missed the joke, many of them idolized Duke Nukem and wanted to see him treated with respect and reverence, delivering a hardcore experience worthy of 15 years of development. But, sorry to say it, they’re wearing the nostalgia glasses, Duke Nukem is just a 90s pop icon who deserved nothing less than a misogynistic, egotistical tongue-in-cheek focus.

    If the game had ended to see Duke Nukem trussed up in the corner of an asylum padded room while doctors talk to each other about him being a victim of pronounced delusions of grandeur and the whole game taking place inside of his addled mind, it would have been perfection. It would have ground the point home that this is exactly what you’re looking at. But it doesn’t: Duke Nukem has potential sequels to make, after all. Instead we’re to understand that Duke Nukem’s delusions are real within his world. That works, it’s a punchline of a different color, albeit one not quite as solid.

    So, why am I judging it on the demo, then? Why don’t I go out and buy the game, right now, and see just how bad it really is? Because I know that, in this day and age, with many great game choices available, some of them free to play, paying $50 for a game which is mostly hype and then being delivered a running joke feels like they’re charging an idiot tax and you fell for it. However, $20, the price they probably should have been charging initially, and perhaps removing any annoying fluff content that would have been injected to make it seem like it should be worth more, probably would have you laughing along with them.

  • Gx1080 .

    People who played Duke Nukem before have grown too old and too liberal (aka pussies) to enjoy it anymore.

    Shame.

    Basically, what hurtin1 said.

  • Ajeba

    I’ve read a few of the reviews and one that stands out is the one from Ben at Ars.  This guy looks for shit to bash and even in his comments section he’s been proven as being inaccurate for his details.

    Frankly, I think some of these sites expected Dragon Ages meets Battlefield 3.  Lum has it right … It’s Duke Fucking Nukem.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Take it for what it is and put your taboos aside.  Once again, I’ve been proven that reading reviews from English majoring idiotic review sites, with a hidden agenda, have NEVER helped me in a game decision.

    • Cymbaline

      Ajeba: Once again, I’ve been proven that reading reviews from English majoring
      idiotic review sites, with a hidden agenda, have NEVER helped me in a
      game decision.

      Holy fucking riduclousness, Batman. 

      My god, it’s a conspiracy!  The liberal-English-neo-hippy-pinko-communist-collective has decided to trash Duke Nukem because it’s a shining beacon of Freedom and Liberty and America!

      Get a grip, man.  Maybe there isn’t a “hidden agenda”, maybe the dude just didn’t like the game.  Maybe, you know, his opinion is different from yours, and maybe – just maybe – that’s okay.

      Or maybe there’s a fucking conspiracy!  I don’t know, which do you think is more likely?

      • Whatev

        If there’s a conspiracy I’m pretty sure it’s on the other side, since it’s the publishers who have the money and motive.

        • Ashendarei

          “And then, announce Duke Nukem Forever After. 2012 release.”

          Actual Shipping Date: Q4 2029

          • Ashendarei

            bah, hit reply instead of like 😛

  • vinull

    I can’t help but read this and think some have been away from the “public” side of games for too long.  Should developers get a free pass when they release… crap?  And DNF is a bad game with or without poo.  The reviewers who come up with interesting ways to slam the game are the only entertainment you’ll get from DNF. 

    Jim should also be aware that Ars has started telling readers which games are being withheld from reviewers.  To me, that’s a pretty damning situation because I don’t think anyone ever sits on a good game – a game withheld from press has something to hide.

    Also, don’t lump in all reviews as if they are all the same.  Jeff did a great job covering DNF w/o going for the fun slams – http://www.giantbomb.com/duke-nukem-forever/61-20721/reviews/