Duke Nukem Forever: About As Entertaining as Bernard Manning

If puerile wisecracks, violence and misogyny are your thing, the return of Duke Nukem should be right up your alley.
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If puerile wisecracks, violence and misogyny are your thing, the return of Duke Nukem should be right up your alley.

It’s been 15 years, but the wait is finally over. Yes, kids - Duke Nukem is back in town.

And judging from the early glimpses of Duke Nukem Forever, his return should be heralded with all the enthusiasm of a Gary Glitter comeback tour.

For anyone who had a life in the early 90s, Duke Nukem is the grotesque muscle-bound oaf who stars in a series of games in which you run around and shoot aliens. The games, which date back to 1991, gained popularity through their puerile mix of wisecracks, violence and misogyny.

This latest game has become something of a running joke in games circles, having been in production for the past 15 years. That’s 15 years - three times longer than it took Tolstoy to write War and Peace. That’s 45 times longer than it took Welles to film Citizen Kane.

So what kind of magnum opus have they been working on? Here are a few highlights from the various Duke Nukem Forever previews:

  • Duke Nukem pissing into a urinal
  • Duke Nukem picking up shit and throwing it at people
  • Duke Nukem receiving oral sex from two women dressed as schoolgirls
  • Duke Nukem finding a vibrating dildo
  • Duke Nukem excitedly watching two schoolgirls kiss

This is not to mention the many hilarious examples of Duke Nukem wisecracks such as: “A turd in the hand is worth two in the bush”, “You wanna touch it don’t you?” and “I'm gonna rip your eye out and piss on your brain”.

Then there are details of the Capture the Babe multiplayer mode in which you grab bimbos, sling them over your shoulder and slap them on the arse to calm them down.

The problem with all this isn’t that it’s fucking awful, which it is, but that it seems so cynically aimed at the minds of 12-year-old boys. And judging by the comments on gaming forums the majority of Duke’s expectant fans are either adolescent males or educationally sub-normal adults.

The game has received a mature classification but in the age of online shopping this restriction is rendered pretty much meaningless.

Judging by the comments on gaming forums the majority of Duke’s expectant fans are either adolescent males or educationally sub-normal adults.

So at a time when justified concerns are being raised about the overtly sexual nature of the media world our children are immersed in, we have Uncle Nukem turning up at the schoolyard to hand out photos of his knob.

It’s not just an age thing either. The Duke Nukem brand of misogyny is vile no matter how old you are. Over the years criticism of the game’s sexism has been dismissed with a shrug of the shoulder by the games industry – it’s just a laugh. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.

It’s the same kind of argument that Bernard Manning and co would use to justify their paki jokes. It’s all a joke, my friend. Don’t take it so seriously. It’s also an argument you could have used to justify the 2002 game, Ethnic Cleansing, in which you played a white supremacist who ran around shooting black people.

There has also been the suggestion that Duke Nukem represents some kind of finely honed satire which subversively ridicules chauvinist attitudes. Unfortunately that’s bollocks. In the same way that Bernard Manning wasn’t trying to explore issues of ethnicity.

It’s not that it couldn’t be done. On the surface Duke Nukem shares a lot of the sexist and boorish attitudes of a character like Kenny Powers in Eastbound and Down. But the two are light years apart in terms of subtlety and depth of character.

The uncomfortable truth is that Duke Nukem is probably a fair representation of many of the attitudes which still exist within the games industry - puerile, sexist and obsessed with violence. And it’s sad that Duke Nukem Forever is likely to fail, not because of what it represents, but because it’s technically shit.

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