After 12 f*cking years, is this all we have to look forward to?
The Duke Nukem Forever demo is out now! For First Access Club members, that is; it won’t be available to the general public until sometime after the game is released. I have to agree with those that think there’s something odd about that… They’re basically rewarding those that pre-order the game (from specific retailers, no less) with a playable demo, even going so far as to use the promise of early access to the demo as a reason for buying the game sight-unseen! You don’t see car commercials proclaiming, “Put a down payment on this fine vehicle right now and we’ll let you test-drive it before we put this model out on the show floor!” Well, I’m sure they would if they could get away with it, but you get the point. Yes, you can also get it by purchasing Borderlands GOTY Edition, or even pre-order it to gain access and play the demo, then cancel before it ships, but that’s still a pain in the ass. And to top it all off, the demo is really not that great.
First of all, let me make clear that this is the same demo first shown to the world at the Penny Arcade Expo nine months ago, and surely even earlier behind closed doors. I think the fact that there’s little here we haven’t been seen before is the main reason for my disappointment with it. It is kind of neat to get in there and mess around with it yourself, but you already know you can see yourself peeing in the urinal, draw on the dry-erase board, and kick a field goal with the boss’ dismembered eyeball. The best part of that first level (itself a recreation of a map from Duke 3D) is actually the ability to pick up a piece of crap from a toilet and toss it around -- if that sounds pointlessly vulgar, it is, but do it repeatedly and you get to hear several different lines from a hilariously disgusted Duke. The second and final level of the demo is probably more indicative of actual gameplay since you get to run around and shoot common enemies. Unfortunately, it’s also some of the most mundane FPS action in one of the blandest-looking environments of recent memory…
The desert. I don’t know if there’s a reason Duke Nukem wound up there or if it’s just an excuse to put as little effort as possible into the level design. You start out driving a monster truck, running over a pig cop here and there, and dodging inexplicable giant, rolling boulders, then you use the speed boost to jump over a ravine. At that point, you “run out of gas” and have to continue through this canyon on foot in search of fuel. This is where you start to lose your hard-on, as it were. You start out with a pistol, but then there are better weapons scattered all over the place, presumably because this is a demo and they want to allow you to try them out. That includes the railgun, shotgun, Ripper (machinegun), shrink ray, and RPG. Now you’re thinking, “Sweet, lemme scoop these up!” But you can’t. You can only carry two weapons at a time, and the ammo limit is tighter than Duke’s jeans at the sight of a pair of blondes in schoolgirl outfits!
Not to mention, the only way these enemies would represent any challenge (even on Hard difficulty) is if you somehow overlooked all these guns lying about. Even if you did, you could just run and hide behind a rock or indestructible shack and wait for your Ego (health) to replenish itself. Is it just me, or is that particular modern gaming convention about one-thousand percent out of character for the Duke? It would make more sense to drink that can of beer you find underneath a ruined car in order to boost your Ego; Instead, it just blurs and wobbles your screen (another low blow to Duke’s reputation) and makes you more resistant to damage, which is pretty pointless because of how quickly you can regenerate. Hoping the game would make up for this nonsense with more of Duke’s trademark wit, I soldiered through the rest of the level. Pretty much the only noteworthy thing he said was a reference to Gordon Freeman’s weapon of choice when faced with a doorway barricaded by wooden planks. That right there served as a glaring indicator of this game’s age (it was originally scheduled for release around the same time as Half-Life).
Now, there are those that would say this demo is old and therefore isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of the final game. Well, that would certainly explain why they only want to give it to people who already ordered! But when people ask for a playable demo of a game, they’re generally looking for one that gives them a taste of the real thing, which they can then use to form an opinion as to whether they’d be interested in playing it in full. We don’t want your old press demo because you couldn’t be bothered to put something new together -- at that point it’s best not to release one at all. Other people are saying that they don’t care if the game sucks because they like Duke, so getting anything is better than nothing at all, or that it’s like a dinosaur saved from extinction, etc. I suppose I can appreciate such reasoning, especially since Duke Nukem Forever had two feet and a hand in the grave before its miraculous escape from development hell. Riddle me this, however… Why then am I being asked to pay full price for it?
Firing Points is a series of frank and poignant editorials that explore popular, pressing, or otherwise provocative topics in the world of gaming. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those belonging to the rest of the FiringSquad team, or anyone else for that matter.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Mass Effect 3 PC Demo Impressions Mass Effect 3, EA/BioWare's third iteration in their series of sci-fi action RPGs and one of the most anticipated titles of the year, is fast approaching its March 6th release. This week, though, they released a playable demo on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 that offers a glimpse into both the single-player and multi-player portions of the full game.
Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
The self-appointed "most anticipated game in history" launched worldwide this past Tuesday. Why, it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course (of course), what else? Unsurprisingly, the military FPS debate between this and Battlefield 3 rages on, but now that both have been released, surely we can take a look and objectively evaluate them both? Luke's taken the Xbox version of MW3 for a spin this week, so to find out what he thinks of it in today's review!