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The 8 worst moments in Duke Nukem Forever

6. The loading screens

Like we said in No. 4, these things pop up with every death or new area, and they’re ridiculously long, uniformly boring and featuretwo pieces of music that will trigger painful flashbacks for anyone who plays through the game (on consoles, at least – lucky PC gamers only have to watch them for around 10 seconds). Don’t believe us? Here’s one in its entirety:

7. The Hive level

The Hive is one of the better-designed levels in Duke Nukem Forever. However, it’s also the one with the most horrifying content. As unwholesome and annoying as the portrayal of women around the beginning of the game is, it’s nothing compared to what you’ll find in the alien Hive. Half the reason Duke goes to war with the aliens is to rescue Las Vegas’s captured women, but when he finds them, they’ve all been trussed up and impregnated with glowing alien larvae.

Above: Shoulda... shoulda maybe hurried a little

The only thing he can do for them at that point is to flatly quip “sorry, babe, It’s better this way” as he shoots them dead. And when Duke finally encounters the Holsom twins, who’ve suffered the same fate, he’s weirdly emotionless and unsympathetic as he watches them simper, swell and explode. There’s a hint of anger that comes through in his follow-up quip, but he really doesn’t seem to give two shits about what just happened. And if he doesn't, then why should we?

Apart from being really unsettling, the whole thing is a weirdly dark departure from the goofy tone of the rest of the game. Sure, people get killed and gibs fly everywhere throughout DNF’s run time, but that’s par for the course in a violent shooter, comedic or otherwise, and it’s usually at least somewhat entertaining. Meanwhile, going around executing topless girls in glistening alien bondage is inarguably creepy, even in the context of mercy-killing. Even if something similar happened inDuke Nukem 3D.

To be fair, the reaction to this level has been a little over-extreme, with some critics interpreting what they’re seeing as graphic rape. And that isn’t an entirely unfair assessment, considering that what they’re seeing is a bunch ofhalf-naked women writhing against gelatinous dick-poles.

Above: That erection is nowhere near as big as the one watchdog groups will sport when they find out this exists

While there is arguably a depiction of rape in the level, it’s less shocking than you might think. The game makes it (sort of) clear that the impregnation is of the oral, Aliens-inspired facehugger variety, which is generally seen as less objectionable when portrayed in popular culture. The culprits are called Pregnators, and they look like some kind of horrible cross between the parasites from Cloverfield and Frankenstein’s nutsack.

They’re also not picky about who their partners are, and I guess we should probably commend 3D Realms at this point for not squeezing in a gay joke when this happens:

Above: Although probably it’s just because Army of Darkness doesn’t have any particularly homophobic lines for Duke to recite

On that note…

8. The wall boobs

What is this I don’t even

Jun 21, 2011

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After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.