Comedy is a difficult thing to get right in a computer game, as players of Duke Nukem Forever will unhappily attest.
The long-awaited sequel to 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D is supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek parody of action movies and an amusingly self-referential comment on gaming in general,
but we found the majority of its humour hopelessly misjudged – and the shortcomings don’t end there.
The story is an intentionally flimsy alien-invasion affair, which serves to provide the Duke with an excuse to pull his one-man-army routine.
On the plus side, there’s a welcome amount of variety in terms of both the environments you encounter and the types of gameplay you perform.
For the most part, Nukem is a first-person shooter but there are also several platform sections, some driving sequences and a number of turret-based interludes, as well as the occasional physics-based puzzle.
Ultimately, however, none of these component parts worked particularly well.
The central shooting element is a largely repetitive run-and-gun affair that lacked punch, despite the array of exotic weapons on offer.
Worse were the platforming parts, where you are required to leap gaps that are almost impossible to judge properly thanks to the game’s poor jumping mechanics.
Duke Nukem Forever isn’t the best-looking game around, either. Graphically, it pales into comparison next to most other modern releases, which is perhaps an unfortunate side-effect of its unfeasibly long development period (15 years).
You’ll still need a relatively powerful up-to-date computer to play the PC version, though – click here for the minimum computer requirements.
The game’s biggest problem, however, is the sub-schoolboy toilet humour that seeps like raw sewage from almost every facet of the game.
It’s deliberately crass and presumably intended to be ironic or post-modern but just comes across as puerile and offensive.
Nostalgic fans of the main character may be able to glean some pleasure from their hammy hero’s overdue return.
And we will happily concede that comedy often comes down to a matter of taste. But given that much of its gameplay falls as flat as its gags, Duke Nukem Forever is hard to recommend.