DNF: Deeper In

I couldn’t resist the pun.

I’ve logged a little more time on Duke Nukem Forever, and my opinion of the game has changed slightly. While I still find it to be a little cramped, and at times the pacing is slower than I’d prefer, I’ve been overall enjoying the game. I’m trying to approach it more not as a raw run-and-gun First Person Shooter but more an adventure game with FPS elements.

There are portions of DNF that are, or simply feel like, mini-games. The RC car, and Mighty Foot monster truck. The miniaturization gameplay and puzzles. The boss battles with their gimmicks. The turret sections. The game has an appreciable degree of variety in its gameplay, and I haven’t experienced technical problems or bugs to sour any of it (your mileage may vary).

I still disapprove of the Ego health system. It regenerates, meaning you cannot go toe-to-toe with your enemies and come out alive. You have to play it more tactically, and that isn’t very Duke-y. The weapons system also irks me. You have two weapons bound to the 1 key, and 1 will switch between them. 2 is laser trip-mines. 3 is pipebombs. 4 is Holo Duke, if I remember correctly. The biggest hurdle for me to overcome is learning that pressing 2 will not switch to trip-mines, but will instead immediately fire one out. Same with 3, 4, and so on. I’m far too accustomed to the old ‘pick and click’ method of weapon selection and use, where you select and then fire, so this was (and still is) a little jarring.

Regarding pacing, there are many instances where the game will pause in an area, add a measured number of badguys, and then open up the next path for you once the pre-requisite number of foes has been defeated. The time between these events more often than not will be bereft of enemies. You literally stroll from one ‘kill arena’ to the next. The events that take place in these areas can be graphically interesting (the trailer in the construction site, for example), and some are dull as dirt.

As spectacular as some of the boss battles are in terms of scale, they are also extremely linear, with confined quarters for Duke to navigate while the boss himself takes up hundreds of square feet. I’m looking at you, Alien Queen.

If you ask if I, after playing this far, feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth, I would say yes. Is it the game I thought it would be? No, but I suppose it simply could never be a ‘bigger, better 90’s-style FPS.’ 3D Realms, Gearbox, and the other developers clearly shot for the 2000’s-style gameplay, and Duke Nukem Forever, so far, is hitting most of the marks.

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