It’s increasingly difficult to shock gamers nowadays. We’ve seen it all: drugs, nudity, excessive violence and murder, and the blood has just gotten thicker and more realistic over the years. Once we thought we had been completely desensitized to it all, Infinity Ward deemed it wise to have us mow down an entire airport full of unarmed citizens. Yeah, it’s safe to say the envelope hasn’t just been pushed — it’s been torn in half and set ablaze. This hasn’t always been the case. After all, Modern Warfare 2 wasn’t exactly on the shelf next to Space Invaders. It’s been a long journey with many memorable stepping-stones along the way. One of those stones goes by the name of Duke. Most fans still remember “Duke Nukem 3D” as the shining beacon of gaming light that it was when it was first released in 1996. It was pure awesome. Though the level of interaction and playability was incredible, it wasn’t the main draw: Drugs, strippers, and pig-cops all helped to make this immature and crude game a cult classic. Of course, in 1996 most gamers were teenage boys. Fast forward to 2011. Girls frag, moms and dads swing Wii-motes and those same teenage boys are now 30-year-olds. Things have definitely changed. Well, maybe not all things. I was perplexed when I started playing “Duke Nukem Forever” and immediately noticed no difference in character design in Duke. He still looked like he had just killed Apollo Creed. In fact, as the game progressed, it seemed that little had changed at all. From the strippers to the steroids to the bad guys, it’s not just that they were still there, but that they barely even looked any better. It felt like I had just dusted off my N64 and popped in a cartridge. The campaign started off marginally, basically highlighted by the ability to throw a turd (yes, you read that correctly), but then it was just a descent into the mundane. Level after level felt hollow and stagnant. The enemies were blurry carbon copies of each other, lifeless and moronic. Some of the aliens would just stand or float in front of my gun waiting to be killed. The piss-poor AI carried over to some of the bosses, too: One just stood behind a truck shooting instead of moving an inch to the left. It boggles the mind how these aliens are not able to grasp the simple concept of “shoot the man, not the inanimate object” while still mastering interplanetary travel. I mean, I actually felt bad for killing them. A few key moments may catch your attention, like controlling an RC car to fetch an object, or shrinking and riding tiny vehicles for a change of pace. Neither is very fun, however. “Forever” also has an online multiplayer that’s fun for exactly five minutes. For the most part, the game is repetitive and boring, but some levels are just plain horrible. My least favorite one had Duke swimming underwater and catching air from bubbles, like he’s goddamn Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, many parts felt like they were indebted to other well-known games, but I was never quite sure if it was homage or rip-off. “Forever” also suffers from many, many glitches, the most egregious being the 40-second load screens I was tormented with after every single death and level change. Overall, the whole thing just felt messy and mashed together. I’m not completely surprised because, prior to its release, this game sat in development purgatory for half of my life. Although some will use this as an excuse for Duke’s shortcomings, the end result is still less than impressive. At the end of the day I’m glad that Gearbox decided to pick up “Forever” and put it out of its misery. Hopefully there’s a silver lining in the mushroom cloud of this catastrophe — that silver lining being another, better game in the works. Let’s cross our fingers. “Duke Nukem Forever” is a game some will enjoy (or at least pretend they do after dropping $60 on it) but most will find disappointing. After spending the duration of the campaign trying to find the good in it, I realized you just can’t shine shit. Even if you’ve been polishing it for 14 years.