A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: 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
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.