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  • Angst? What Angst?: Even after seeing how so many babes including the Holsom twins brutally became the alien's incubators, Duke didn't take any loss heavily. In fact after "The Hive" there is a Minigame Zone that take place inside Duke's dreams while he's being rescued.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The Doctor Who Cloned Me DLC has Duke react badly to a joke made at the expense of the deceased Holsom twins, after his glib reaction to their deaths in the base game rubbed a lot of players the wrong way.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Breather Level: After The Hive you go to the strip club, and have a scavenger hunt to get a lap dance. It turns out it was All Just a Dream.
    • And in The Doctor Who Cloned Me DLC, The Burning Bush chapter, which plays pretty much in the same way in that you're given a couple of scavenger hunt tasks to carry out.
  • Broken Base: The Limited Loadout caused this. Some say it's a nice change, showing 3D Realms wasn't seeking to just re-hash Duke 3D in prettier graphics, and are willing to try different things with Duke. They also cite how it's only a limit on your actual guns, not affecting pipe bombs, trip mines, steroids, and the like. Others say it's just 3D Realms changing Duke to copy gameplay mechanics that are popular, and that the game's weapon system really doesn't seem to be designed with the concept in mind, since it makes it impossible to keep the rarer guns in reserve and the most common weapons are no fun to use. Then there's a third party saying they did it because of consoles and their limited controls (the officially given reason), and that console FPS players would get confused and/or frustrated by having more than 2 guns at a time. This particular base breaker was alleviated somewhat in a patch which adds a toggle-able option for Duke to carry four guns at a time, although the console versions never got this option.
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  • Contested Sequel: The final product is very divisive, to put it mildly.
  • Crazy Awesome: It's Duke Nukem. What did you expect, Incredibly Lame Fun?
  • Critical Backlash / Critic-Proof: Duke Nukem Forever has gotten scathing reviews from many critics, yet it still managed to sell enough to be profitable. Some critics have even said they're somewhat insulted with how well DNF has sold, in spite of the thrashing they gave it. Of course, being profitable doesn't necessarily mean it sold very well, since the amount of money invested in it by its eventual publisher was fairly low, with most of the money spent on its development coming from 3D Realms over the course of its Development Hell.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The fact that the aliens are rapists, and Duke's aloof attitude toward that fact, was intended to be this. Averted where many people didn't see it that way.
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  • Dancing Bear: The very fact that the game was finally released after its legendarily long development cycle and could actually be played was in itself enough to move quite a few copies out the door.
  • Demonic Spiders: Octabrains and berserk pig cops, capable of killing you in two hits. They always seem to be in tight areas with no cover. Berserk pig cops have the added bonus of immediately regaining all their health, so you have to deal just as much damage to them again for no particular reason other than that the game decided it doesn't like you right now. The Octabrains, meanwhile, are incredibly agile, capable of hurling things at you (including ammo from certain weapons you fired and your own pipe-bombs), and has an attack that can take out a large chunk of your ego bar, in addition to usually attacking in swarms, pulling double duty as Goddamned Bats.
  • Goddamned Bats: Octabrains. They tend to attack in swarms of two or more, they fly, they're incredibly agile, and if they're not throwing things littered around the game environment at you, a blast of their energy ball can knock a helluva lot off your Ego bar. And did we mention that they can grab large ammo projectiles you fired (say, RPGs, devastator rockets or your pipe-bomb) and hurl them back at you? And fighting them underwater just makes things more difficult. Counter-productively, pipe bombs are actually one of the best ways to defeat them, as they will always pull grabbed projectiles in closer to themselves for a second before tossing it back - giving you a chance to actually detonate the pipe bomb before it's thrown back, and guaranteeing they'll be caught in the blast radius and die.
  • Heartwarming Moments: A meta example happened according to this article. After it was revealed that some dude kept his preorder receipt for years, Gearbox gave him a signed version of the Balls of Steel edition, as well as a crapton more swag.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Randy Pitchford left 3D Realms to form Gearbox Software, which went on to finish the game.
    • Gearbox, the company now in charge of Duke Nukem Forever, is also the one which ported Halo to the PC. In game, Duke finds Spartan armor and calls anyone who wears it a "pussy".
  • Memetic Mutation: "Always Bet on Duke", a tagline printed on one of the early promotional posters for the game; upon the announcement of the game actually getting released, people started saying they can finally cash in their bets.
    • Interestingly, now that the game's been released, the Vaporware poster boy has become Half-Life 2: Episode 3.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Certain reviewers have put the blame for the finished product's various flaws wholly on Gearbox; some even seem to be under the impression that they restarted the game from scratch after they took over the project. In actual fact, the finished product is about 80-90% the product of 3D Realms, as George Broussard himself has frequently bemoaned. Whether Gearbox should have done a complete reboot of the project is a legitimate question, but most of the content was the product of 3D Realms. However, Gearbox did remove Duke's Distaff Counterpart who would basically put Duke in his place.
    • Gearbox also came under fire for threats to blacklist reviewers who rated the game poorly. It was actually The Redner Group, a public relations agency with Gearbox as a client, who was responsible for that statement and Gearbox promptly fired them for making such a statement, for the record.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Duke has exactly one grunt sound effect for when he jumps.
  • Nausea Fuel: The Hive. Between the "slap the wall boobs" and the eventual fate of the Holsom twins and several other babes.
  • Older Than They Think: Most critics tend to forget that the "ego is health" mechanic first appeared in the PlayStation game Land of the Babes and Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, where doing things like shooting members of the women's resistance would lower your health (in the former), and that rescuing women and killing enemies would raise it (in the latter).
    • Critics also forget that the alien-impregnated chicks in the Hive level are nothing new. Duke Nukem 3D featured many women captured by the aliens, stripped naked and imprisoned in pods or otherwise bound, begging Duke to kill them. Sometimes they were also surrounded by clutches of alien eggs (from which Protozoid Slimers would hatch and attack Duke if he did nothing). However not only the graphics are less detailed, they're simply static 2D model at the time, not to mention their depictions can be disabled.
    • In general, most of the cultural aspects of the game, like the humor and depictions of women, aren't changed from Duke Nukem 3d - the surrounding culture did.
  • Porting Disaster: When the game was first released on the Xbox 360, the textures didn't load properly, the blood decals flickered constantly, the frame rate was very uneven, and the loading times were atrocious. However, after the release of The Doctor Who Cloned Me, it seems like most, if not all, of these issues have been rectified.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The Limited Loadout, especially in the default setting (or only setting, if you're playing on console) of 2 weapons. With 4 weapons enabled in the PC version, it becomes more tolerable, unless you're holding onto the golden pistol for the achievement. Since the shotgun, ripper, railgun, and various explosive weapons are all useful for specific things, you have to juggle weapons a lot, and won't get as much freedom to try out the more specialist weapons.
    • Vehicle controls, with the section in the RC truck being by far the worst of it. It's especially strange given the Mighty Foot handles a lot better.
    • Two of the minigames are notable for being extremely clunky. The pinball machine is somewhat difficult to get the ego boost for, but it's generally considered insanity to go for the related acheivement. Meanwhile just beating a round of pool is an exercise in frustration, real-world understanding of pool or not.
    • Duke's Ego is typically a good indicator of how much health you have before you kick the bucket, until it drains. Suddenly the game seems to decide at complete random if Duke can tank more damage or even indirect explosions, or if mere scratch damage drops him instantly. There's essentially no consistency to it, either, which isn't helped by the fact that regardless of difficulty, that Ego bar depletes fast.
  • Scrappy Weapon: The Boring, but Practical guns, particularly the energy rifle, don't have many fans - especially as the aforementioned Limited Loadout means you'll pretty much always have to carry at least one around or run out of ammo constantly. The pistol is the worst of all; if you're going for the golden gun achievement, you'll be dealing with half your weapon slots being taken up by a weak and ineffective gun with somewhat-uncommon ammo.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: In a meta way. George Broussard wanted the game to be a collection of every new and awesome mechanic he could find, but with all the delays the game was released after those mechanics stopped being novel.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: During the course of the game, Duke can play video poker, pool, air hockey, pinball, throw basketballs into a basket and throw a frisbee. Winning any of them for the first time will have Duke's maximum EGO rising.
  • So Okay, It's Average: After the dust has settled, the general consensus about the game is that it's not necessarily bad, but there isn't anything new or interesting aside from having the title character back in action. Some have taken note that the game most likely would have been more well-received had it been released in a previous console generation, or better yet, on time.
  • That One Boss: The Octaking, especially the second fight that takes place entirely underwater.
  • That One Level: The underwater parts of the Dam prior to the Octaking. Not only do you have to juggle a tight oxygen limit, but baby Octobrains that are hard to hit come pouring out after you in a situation of reduced mobility and a severe disadvantage in fighting back.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Duke Nukem 3D was considered one of the best FPS games ever made - and given that this game had an absurdly long development cycle, people were bound to be more critical toward the sequel to that game. While there was one game in the main series released in between 3D and Forevernote , this trope is still played straight, as Forever was announced before Manhattan Project, despite the latter coming out almost a decade earlier.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The game positively rejoices in a very dated portrayal of female characters as damsels to be rescued and eye candy, is (seemingly) intended to be an example of Crosses the Line Twice, in a send-up of old action games and movies (and with a fairly large helping of Self-Deprecation). However, one game mechanic, in the "Capture the Babe" multiplayer mode, which involved the babe making a bid for freedom and needing to be slapped on the arse to calm her down, didn't endear it to some reviewers.
  • Values Dissonance: The game has Humor Dissonance thanks to its decade of Development Hell. The previous games of the early nineties were considered funny and the eponymous character was a fresh take on the protagonists rather than being a faceless, voiceless space marine. However, when Forever came out, Duke's dialogue, humor, and the overall tone of the game felt wildly out of date.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: As the poster child for Development Hell in video games, by the time it finally came out, most of its jokes and references were nearly a decade old. Notable examples include a Take That! to keycard hunting (something that had long since been abandoned with Call of Duty-inspired modern military shooters), a Leeroy Jenkins joke (based on something from 2005), the Holsom Twins (based on people last relevant in 2004), and a reference to Christian Bale's rant on the set of Terminator Salvation from 2009. The gameplay itself was generally considered similar to that of Halo (and the game features a Take That! to it, both out-of-date [height of the Master Chief's popularity was 2007] and out-of-place [coming immediately before a section of gameplay bearing a noticeable similarity to an early Halo 2 level]).
  • Win Back the Crowd: The Doctor who Cloned Me is considered by some to be better than the base game.

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