About fifteen years since Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem Forever is the much anticipated sequel by 3D Realms. On again, off again, it really wasn’t clear to anyone if Duke Nukem Forever would actually make it to store shelves! It finally has, and today we learn how this muscle bound alien fighter ranks in stereoscopic 3D, and whether or not it's a worthy follow-up.
General Game Review
How can I put you into the mind and lifestyle of this character? You are Duke Nukem! You are cool and full of muscles! You are Duke Nukem! Everybody wants you! Everybody wants to be you! You are Duke Nukem! You have saved the world a million times over! You are God’s gift to women! You are Duke Nukem! Brassieres and women’s clothing are turned to itching cream around you! You are Duke Nukem! Every day of your life is lived as though you are the last man on earth. You are Neil Schneider! Oh wait…the game, the game!
Duke Nukem Forever takes place about twelve years after your character last saved the world. Your success has become a Las Vegas joke. I mean, how else should the man who saved the world live? Your character gets sexually pleasured while playing video games (twins!), you live in a Vegas tower, you have your own TV show (about you), and your name and image have been franchised left, right, and center!
Fortunately, just before your tenured fab turns to saggy flab, an alien invasion is on its way! Earth is no longer safe, and while the US President thinks that friendly negotiation is the way to go, you know better! The real solution is a well oiled tan with a gun, right? RIGHT! Actually, you don’t really have a choice because your casino retreat is being invaded by aliens.
So! First thing’s first. What drives a glistening man like yourself? Ego of course! This is the life blood of Duke Nukem, and you need to grow it if you hope to survive the impending onslaught of relentless invaders. How do you grow it? Interact with the environment around you, of course! Lift weights, win mini-games like pinball and slot machines, and most important…slap the well endowed alien wall boobs (yes, alien wall boobs).
What makes Duke Nukem work is its sense of humor. Most of the attacking aliens look like pigs, so after blowing swine up, you regularly say things like “Who wants white meat? WHO WANTS IT?!?” Or “You’ve got guts! Let’s see what they look like!”
For a game that took fifteen years to release, this isn’t a Crysis by any measure. While the environments are both fun and interesting, and a great deal of attention was spent on the gelatinous PhysX enhanced breasts, it’s still a bit simplistic compared to other titles in the market. However, I think this was done on purpose because Duke Nukem is more of a cartoonish styled game.
Duke Nukem Forever has some innovative ideas and sequences. First, there are parts where you get shrunk down to mini-me status. Mice become the size of men, and once easily disposable aliens become towering gods. On the other hand, you are able to walk into crawl spaces, mess around with machinery on the inside, and even at your reduced stature…the girls still like you.
While the environments were varied, and 3D Realms did a decent job of creating new bosses to defeat every so often, I was surprised there weren’t more types of enemies to fight against. You’ve seen one pig, and you’ve seen them all. This doesn’t take away from the fun, I just expected more.
I’m going to throw this out there: I think some of the assets from Prey look too similar to the ones used in Duke Nukem Forever. Part of the game is in an alien lair, and not only is some of the game play identical, the game objects (like fleshy eggs) look the same. A quick Wikipedia search found that 3D Realms also made Prey, so there may be something to this.
One last element that I thought Duke Nukem handled well were the vehicles. You can drive toy trucks, turrets, and the big truck version later in the game. It’s not Battlefield, but it is gratifying to squish nasty aliens and blast your afterburners to fly over ledges and jump from ramps. Lots of fun!
For parents reading this, if your teenaged kids ask you to buy them this game – that all the other kids have it, etc. etc….DON’T. Swearing aside, there are super erotic sequences in the game. For example, there is a sequence where you have a strip club mission that leads to a lap dance. Not that there is a risk of burning your eye sockets out or anything, but countless nipples make an appearance throughout this title.
Nipples aside, the bigger issue is the whole tone of the game. It’s kind of a hairy 70’s truck driver attitude mixed into a modern story with aliens and babes. While it’s a joke for those that get it, I wouldn’t want my kid to mimic the lines and attitude at school.
Saving the world was easy enough, but can Duke Nukem handle stereoscopic 3D? Is he all talk? Let’s find out!
Just a reminder that all stereoscopic 3D drivers are given no less than seven days of notice before we begin testing for review purposes. We don’t advise the developers of any visual anomalies or problems. The exception is when we can’t get the game to run or crash to desktop problems. That said, all stereoscopic 3D game reviews are scored according to MTBS’ 3D Game Analyzer for maximum fairness.
Nvidia Stereoscopic 3D Findings
Maingear X-Cube Intel Core I7 Processor 2.66GHZ 6GB RAM GTX 470, GTX 275 (PhysX) Windows 7 64 Bit NVIDIA 275.33 Stereo Driver NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Acer GD235HZ
Nvidia had a competitive advantage of having early builds of the game before it hit store shelves, and it shows. Duke Nukem was well rendered with complete depth and out of screen flexibility via the advanced convergence controls in the Nvidia stereo driver.
While their 3D press guide recommended that Post Processing effects be turned off (along with film grain) for best effect, the truth is that post processing creates visual problems in the game that would otherwise ruin the 3D experience for Nvidia’s solution.
The good news is their recommendations are correct, and even though the graphics do get stripped down a little, Duke Nukem Forever offers a compelling 3D experience with Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision drivers. I had great difficulty finding visual flaws beyond the required eye candy reductions.
Some aspects of the game that work well include a dynamic crosshair in stereoscopic 3D mode, objects in the game that naturally protrude from the screen when they are used, and diverse scenery and environments that don’t require constant driver setting changes.
While DDD has yet to release their next round of TriDef Ignition drivers, they have sent us Beta drivers with a Duke Nukem profile. Actually, they sent us two profiles and have conceded that the results are not perfect yet. We will have to wait and see how Duke Nukem Forever is with their complete release drivers.
As it is, their beta drivers still need work. Similar to Nvidia, DDD also achieves a combined depth and pop-out experience. Unlike Nvidia, DDD maintains the flexibility to have full Post Processing support, but it’s still flawed. These should be easy to fix things, but sample problems include misplaced reflections on water textures, outline or clipping errors around some game objects when they are against transparent backgrounds (e.g. characters or objects against water, mist, smoke, etc.), and in some cases, missing textures in the left or right view.
DDD has the potential to take the Duke Nukem cake, but not until these issues are solved.
iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM Nvidia GTX 585 Windows 7 64 Bit Zalmon Trimon 24" Monitor iZ3D 1.13 Release Candidate I
When iZ3D was advised of the review, we were told their available 1.13 drivers are compatible, though the game itself doesn’t look great in 3D. I beg to differ. As demonstrated by Nvidia, there is a lot of potential if iZ3D could get their anomalies cleaned up.
iZ3D’s results compared to that of DDD’s were more alike than different. iZ3D also has misplaced reflections on water textures, game object clipping errors on transparencies (smoke, mist, fire, etc.), and missing textures in the left or right view in the same locations as DDD. It’s interesting that this is the case.
Unfortunately, iZ3D was also plagued by additional anomalies on mirrors and reflective surfaces. The biggest were separation levels that were way beyond normal.
Given the years of anticipation for Duke Nukem Forever, I’m not sure if fans got what they were expecting. While the graphics weren’t breathtaking or particularly innovative, I did like the environment design and I enjoyed moving from one level to the next. I also liked that the game never took itself seriously, and maybe that’s the entire charm of Duke Nukem.
Parents be warned that Duke Nukem is over the top sexist and chauvinistic towards women. It features a wide range of erotica and sexual innuendo throughout the game, and it’s a fine line between making a joke, and setting a poor example for young gamers (who shouldn’t be playing this title in the first place).
Stereoscopic 3D gamers using the Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision drivers will benefit the most from Duke Nukem Forever. When the post processing effects are turned off, the 3D experience is nearly flawless. DDD comes second, and I expect they will perform even better as their profile improves. iZ3D could have been on par with DDD, but they didn’t invest in making a profile for this game – so we’ll have to wait and see what they come up with.
As always, we used MTBS' 3D Game Analyzer to score Duke Nukem's 3D effectiveness. However, one particular bug for DDD and iZ3D has skewed their results to an "uncertified" level and a very low numeric grade. It's the bug that makes textures disappear in one or both eyes (like waterfall water that disappears in the casino as shown above) that ruined their scores on paper. This single bug classification deducts 75% from the score because it is very visible when it happens, and is considered a top tier anomaly. Even so, the game is very playable in both cases, and we are hopeful DDD and iZ3D will send us a profile update so we can dramatically improve their numbers and better exemplify the quality they deliver. We should also note that both DDD and iZ3D are still in the "beta" stages of their next driver release.