"Duke Nukem" is not exactly a series known for its political correctness, and no one is expecting Triptych Games and Gearbox Software's upcoming "Duke Nukem Forever" to be any different. Details of the game's multiplayer component were revealed today, and while most of what's there is pretty standard, there is one mode that unquestionably takes things just a little too far: Capture the Babe.
The details are included in the latest issue of OXM (via Eurogamer). The experience point-laden modes -- yes, you'll be able to level up and customize your Duke -- include Dukematch, Team Dukematch, Hail to the King (aka King of the Hill) and Capture the Babe.
It's that last one which raises concerns. The basic setup is your average capture the flag mode, with a "babe" replacing the flag that must be stolen from the opposing team and carried back to your home base. Only in this case, the flag is a living person and you have to carry her back. Occasionally she will "freak out" (OXM's description), at which point a button must be pressed "to gently give her a reassuring slap" (OXM's words again).
Sorry, but this is not okay. Despite OXM's reassurances that "it's more goofy than offensive," the fact of the matter is the game asks you to slap a woman when she starts to protest at being hauled around like a flag. You don't have to be a civil liberties expert to recognize that this is not the kind of behavior that should be encouraged, and this is exactly what "Capture the Babe" does.
I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around how that is supposed to even be funny, let alone what kind of message it sends. "Duke Nukem" may not be role-model material, but there's a difference between playing for comedy and just being downright offensive. I'm not arguing for any kind of censorship here... but I also think the dev team made a really lousy decision on this one. What do the rest of you think?