Duke Nukem Forever Review- Spoilers within!

No game could meet the pregnant expectation of 12 years of unrequited hype. Gearbox made a wise decision with their attempt to play down those expectations in the release on Duke Nukem Forever. Even with lowered expectations, the game has glaring, nearly unforgivable problems. There have been reports of obscenely long loading screens on the Xbox 360 version, and the STEAM-delivered PC version suffers from an input-locking bug that occurs between each level load that renders the game unplayable without a do-si-do of commands to get the community overlay out of the way. These are not forgivable lapses in a commercially released game, even under a normal release cycle.
However, Duke Nukem himself is unique. He remains an unruffled icon of immature male sexuality, untroubled by modern conventions of manhood. Metro-sexuality does not exist in the Duke Nukem version of Earth. The arc of the action falls in perfect alignment with the arrested development of a misogynistic 14 year old boy, vacillating between porn star fantasy and matriarchal horror with only toy truck play as a palette cleanser in between. He is the perfect cartoon expression of dysfunctional male sexuality. In certain sections he is literally belittled by green vagina-shaped traps, forced to lure his manly, animalistic opponents into the same fate before besting them. In another section, he must battle the "shrink ray" sized male, muscular opponents in order to save a uniformed girl in a fast food uniform. She is a representation of women at his real maturity level and he respects her, and ultimately must save her in his 6" tall form before continuing. The symbolism could not be more glaring.
In the climax of the first act, Duke must best the monstrous "Queen Bitch", not with rockets or guns, the stereotypic projection of male misogynous power, but by sneaking up on her when she is unconscious and forcing her to bite off her own tongue. It's a clear expression of his impotence before the "Queen Bitch's" power. He is relegated to using her own jaws to defeat her, and is nearly destroyed in the process.
In all, I find the experience amusing. It is an apt reminder of the confused period of differentiation as a teenage boy learns to deal with a surge of hormones and unclear or wholly incorrect representations of females around them. The game lapses into Duke's completely unapologetic unconscious fantasy at one point, and that sequence is the most telling. He believes life is a strip club, all women are prostitutes, and if you can find food, toys, and condoms that's all you really need.
Many reviewers have taken seriously a section where some of Duke's female companions are taken into the alien spaceship to be used as breeding vessels for tiny aliens. You are not forced to shoot them. You can proceed through this area without violence toward the women, however the women die anyway when little alien creatures explode from them and attack. Do I need to point out the obvious pregnancy = danger scenario present within this construct?
I left off last night - way too late - after playing through a literal interpretation of the wild-west showdown and I was reminded of a child playing cowboy in his bedroom with action figures, and that is the general level of the narrative. Despite that, the game holds my attention, but for what I think are entirely unintended reasons. It is amusing because I can resonate with Duke's eternal man-child nature, one I find far too commonly expressed in our world and our culture. Duke lampoons himself and his immaturity in a series fun house mirrors. Although, there are lots of cool guns to shoot, big trucks to drive, and "bad guys" shooting back at you - enough for the 14-year-old boy in us to enjoy. However, if you were never a 14 year old (most likely heterosexual) boy there is nothing for you here.


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