Duke Nukem Forever
By Chad Sapieha,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Adult parody awash in sexism, drugs, and gory killing.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This game glorifies gory sci-fi violence, glamorizes alcohol and steroid abuse, and sexually objectifies women. It is intended for adult audiences and the action is supposed to be taken as humorous parody.
Positive Role Models
Despite his stated goal of saving the world and rescuing humanity's kidnapped women, Duke is just about the worst role model imaginable. He smokes, drinks, and takes steroids. In "capture-the-babe" mode, Duke taps the bottoms of the women he captures to get them to stop complaining about being lugged around. He is an unthinking misogynist portrayed as someone whom women adore and men aspire to be. And his only solution for any problem he encounters is bloody, gory violence.
Ease of Play
Several levels of difficulty ensure that players can experience as much challenge as they like. The controls are standard for a first-person shooter, though some of the sequences involving a remote control car can be a little tricky. The few puzzles players encounter have solutions that should prove fairly obvious to the game's intended adult audience.
Violence & Scariness
Players shoot a wide variety of alien enemies from a first-person perspective using handguns, shotguns, rifles, rocket launchers, emplaced weapons, and alien lasers. Bodies rip apart in gory fashion, blood spatters the ground, and characters grunt in pain. Duke can also perform bloody melee attacks with the butts of his weapons. Enemies occasionally fall to their knees, dazed, allowing players to dispatch them with special execution moves, such as bashing their skulls into a bloody pulp.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Virtually all of the women appearing in this game are sexually objectified. They have sex with Duke (not shown), perform a lap dance for him, utterly adore him, and frequently ask to have his babies or for him to pen an autograph near their private areas. One scene is set in a strip club, complete with topless pole dancers and an objective that sees Duke collecting a vibrator and a condom for a private appointment with one of the strippers. Another is set in a Vegas casino with dozens of statues of naked women. Yet another is in a hive filled with naked women who are being impregnated by aliens.
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The dialogue in this game runs the gamut of profanity. Some examples include: "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "c--k," and "a--."
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Products & Purchases
Players will find plenty of poster and billboard ads, but none for real-world products.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Duke regularly imbibes beer, which blurs his vision but makes him "extra tough." He also takes steroids to beef up his strength. Players can earn an achievement called "substance abuser" for taking both at the same time. He can also be seen chomping on a cigar, breathing smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Duke Nukem Forever is a first-person shooter with an excess of bloody violence, sexual imagery, profanity, and player-controlled substance abuse. A drunken, foul-mouthed Duke will tear aliens to crimson shreds in one scene, then collect sex toys and prophylactics for a lap dance engagement in the next. Like its predecessors, its ostensible purpose is to parody the kind of outrageous scenes and behavior seen in old action movies, but there is far more gore and blatant misogyny here than can be found in any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Parents should also note that this game can be played online with open voice chat, a feature Common Sense Media does not recommend for pre-teens.
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Duke Nukem Forever
Based on 16 parent reviews
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Not for kids tons of sex profanity
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What’s It About?
After suffering one of the longest development cycles in the history of video games, DUKE NUKEM FOREVER sees the franchise's notorious protagonist doing pretty much exactly the same thing gamers saw him doing in his last adventure, which arrived back in the mid-nineties. The muscle-bound Duke chomps a cigar and spouts lame and profane double-entendres while wading through hordes of pig-like aliens intent on stealing Earth's women. He engages in gambling and sex-themed side quests, uses drugs and alcohol to enhance his performance, and takes pleasure in executing his alien enemies with his bare hands. If inclined, players can take the action beyond the campaign into a small collection of fairly standard multiplayer games for between two and eight players, one of which sees Duke capturing women rather than flags.
Is It Any Good?
Beyond its overtly misogynistic themes -- which should prove intolerable to any man with a daughter or wife -- puerile fascination with drugs and alcohol, and unimaginatively gory combat, Duke Nukem Forever is a by-the-numbers first-person shooter with the production values of a game developed five or six years ago. Dull design makes many levels feel like simple gladiatorial shoot-outs, and an utter lack of visual panache means players never get lost in fantastic spectacle -- something which most modern FPS fans are clearly hoping to do.
Its play mechanics are fairly solid (save the somewhat wonky RC car driving controls), and weapons feel satisfyingly powerful, but the same can be said about the vast majority of games in the extremely crowded shooter market. Duke Nukem Forever does stand apart from the crowd, just not in any way as to justify pride.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the way women are depicted in media. Compare their roles in popular books, movies, and films to those of their male counterparts. Do you notice any trends? Why are women characters so often objectified?
Families can also discuss drug use in games. What do you think of protagonists who consume drugs, tobacco, and alcohol? Are these habits character flaws? Do they somehow suggest that he or she has a more robust constitution that is to be admired?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Available online?: Not available online
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Release date: June 14, 2011
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
- Last updated: August 29, 2016
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