After 15 Years, Was Duke Nukem Forever Worth the Wait?

After more than 15 years, the wait is over. Duke Nukem Forever has finally arrived.

"June 14 in North America will forever be celebrated as the day that the legendary Duke Nukem Forever went from video game folklore to earth-shattering reality," Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K Games, the title's publisher, said in a statement. "For 15 years, fans have waited in limbo just yearning to hear those two little lovely words strung together -- now available.”

As with major Hollywood features, long tumultuous productions usually don’t bode well for the finished product. Duke Nukem Forever is no different.

“Barely playable, not funny, and rampantly offensive,” said Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera in his scathing review. “From a business and gaming history perspective, the fact that the title exists at all is fascinating; for everyone else asked to spend $60 on it, it’s merely sad."

Released in early 1996, the original Duke Nukem 3D was an instant classic, selling millions of copies. The 15 years that followed -- as developers struggled to piece together a worthy sequel -- would become a legendary chapter in the history of video gaming.

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Though the mere feat of getting any product out should merit some congratulations, the game -- really the only thing that matters at this point -- is underwhelming, according to critics.

“The first thing you need to know about Duke Nukem Forever is that it is a technical mess, and this makes everything the game does badly that much worse,” Wired’s Chris Kohler explained in his tear-down review.

“Strip away the ridiculous sex-and-poop jokes and you’re left with a lot of bland, action-game clichés,” he wrote.

Fans of the original will attest that much of the original’s allure derived from its trademark no-limits humor, an over-the-top balancing act of sexualized debauchery and hyperbolized social stereotypes that helped Duke become a worldwide gaming icon -- but also a regular source of industry controversy.

This time around, it seems they may have taken things too far.

In March, leaked tidbits of the game had women’s rights-groups crying foul, upon discovering that the game required users to abduct women and give them a “reassuring slap” if they freaked out.

"It was offensive then and it's even more offensive now," Jamia Wilson, vice president of the Women's Media Center, told "These depictions of women are extremely harmful, especially to young women," she added.

Gearbox Software, which was charged with completing the long awaited title, defended their decisions in an interview published in Xbox Magazine.

"Our goal isn't to shock people, but I think there's some stuff that'll be just a bit uncomfortable," a spokesman for the company said. "We try to get right up to that edge and then relax enough so people don't reject it."

Not everyone is convinced.

“It’s not racy, it’s not funny, and it makes you feel dirty,” Ars Technica wrote. “It’s like watching your uncle tell racist jokes at Thanksgiving and praying someone has the guts to tell him to cut it out, but this time it’s interactive -- and you’re the uncle.”

Duke Nukem Forever is available in North America on PC, Xbox, and PS3.