This pisses me the hell off.
No, I haven't played the game, or any other Duke Nukem game, and I never will, and there's a reason for that.
Actually, lemme back up first for the uninitiated. The first two Duke Nukem games started as fairly generic shooters from the early 90s whose only interesting or unusual feature was that the main character was a crass, macho pastiche of various 80s action movie heroes, and spouted off lines of dialogue from some of said films. Since other FPS protagonists from the period were pretty much floating guns, any personality was unusual for the time. By the time of his aforementioned 3D adventure, Duke Nukem had become an iconic super-macho 80s/90s anti-hero, much like the ones he himself is modeled on--a crass, egotistical womanizer whose idea of wit was stealing lines from better action heroes and whose idea of a good time was killing alien critters and going to strip clubs to throw money at the babes (which, incidentally, you spent the entire game doing). While all of this naturally attracted attention from media watchdogs, it managed to avoid too much criticism from the community at large because of the game's tongue-in-cheek, parodic approach to the low-brow humor and content. Since then, the games have become beloved, for want of a better word, by some in the gaming community for being unashamedly stupid, offensive, and over-the-top. One might call it nostalgia, really, for the ridiculous days when such things were popular.
Flash-forward to the present, and Duke hasn't aged well. Even video gamers, accustomed as they are to terrible writing, have now developed slightly higher standards of complexity in their protagonists. Well, actually, scratch that: closer to the truth would be to say they've developed different tastes in the one-dimensional protagonists they control. Yesteryear, when Arnold Schwartzenegger was a box office draw, the trend was for brawny, overly-macho brutes who gleefully shoot at anything that moves and make low-brow wisecracks every other sentence and always emerge the squeaky-clean hero at the end of the day. Nowadays, we like our protagonists to be brawny, overly-macho brutes who shoot at anything that moves while looking very grim and serious about it, and do edgy, morally-grey things and care about their families who end up dead at some point in the games timeline. The point is, Duke Nukem is not the hero we're accustomed to in this day and age. Duke Nukem Forever, instead of deconstructing the character or examining him with a modern outlook (the smarter choice, even though doing it poorly would have made the game dull and generic), rejoices in the obscene, over-the-top, politically incorrect legacy of the series and plays it up further than it's ever gone before.
I suppose I've waffled on enough leading up to this point, but now you see what I mean. The point is, this game is disgustingly misogynistic. What's worse, the community reacting to it has become just as disgustingly misogynistic itself. I have yet to see a single person react with justified fervor at the (I rarely use this word seriously) obscene content in this tripe. Reception has been mixed leaning negative from critics and gamers alike, but the things people are complaining about are boring and generic design, humor that tries too hard, and a general feeling of rushed development. Only a rare few actually call the game out on the filth it calls "humor", and even those seem to treat the frankly troubling treatment of women as a mere footnote in the matter of why the game is bad. One review even had the fucking gall to tell me I had no right to judge the game's humor for being inappropriate. Just because "inappropriate" is a million different things to a million different people when it comes to matters of taste doesn't mean that it doesn't exist at all, morons.
A major element of the plot is that a whole bunch of buxom women have been kidnapped by the aliens seemingly to provoke the lady-"loving" Duke, though their real purpose is to serve as bodies to make more alien babies. Later on in the game, Duke finds a whole catacomb of captive women who have been raped by the aliens and are trapped in strange alien cocoon things. Among these women are some recurring characters: namely, a pair of blonde teens in school-girl outfits, painfully obvious parodies of the Olson twins, who are first seen kicking off the main part of the game by giving Duke a blowjob while he himself plays a game about himself called Duke Nukem Forever (a clumsy metafictional joke that seems to be the closest the game ever comes to intelligence). All these trapped women are naked--breasts on full display at all times--screaming in an overdone imitation of terror and pain that has the slightest and creepiest tinge of sexuality in it, and to top it all off, Duke (that is to say, you, the player controlling Duke) cannot save a single damn one of them. They are, after all, impregnated with alien spawn and are dead meat soon anyway. So all Duke can do is saunter through this hellhole either waiting for the babies to rip their way out of the womb and slaughtering them then, or preemptively mercy-killing defenseless, terrified, naked women with his massive
Ask yourselves, dear readers, is this shit appropriate?
I didn't know how far down the shit-hole goes with the Duke Nukem franchise. I thought it was harmless, a tasteless but now dead mindless action series whose misogyny only hovered around the same level as "women belong in the kitchen" jokes (if you can tell me one of those that's actually clever and funny, I will sing your praises from the rooftops), and so ultimately deserved to be ignored. How mistaken I was, and how saddened I am now that I know it.
What kind of twisted fuck designs a game like this? What has to be wrong in your head to think this is acceptable, even as specifically "unacceptable humor"? And maybe they think it's all right because the game plays it for laughs, but it's only worse because it's meant to be funny. At least if a scene like that were in a serious game, it could be something that was supposed to make the player uncomfortable. More pressingly, and more to my earlier point, who looks at a game like this and doesn't think that the prevailing part of his opinion about it should be anything other than disgust at the raw, terrifying misogyny? I know the games industry is dominated mostly by men who have very little in the way of intellectual or philosophical enlightenment, even more so than other entertainment industries. But the people who review these games for a living can't all be so desensitized to the mindset that women are so somehow less than human as to merit depiction like this.
Y'know what, I really want to end this post right here, but I can't. There is one last thing I need to mention: The Capture the Flag-aping multiplayer mode Capture the Babe. In which you kidnap a woman from the opposing team's side of the playing field and carry her over your shoulder, very obviously against her will, back to your own team's base. You spank her whenever she tries to block your vision. Yes, really.
Let it be known that Duke Nukem Forever was the game that made me side with the Moral Guardians for the first time in my life.