Friday, September 3, 2010

Duke Nukem Forever exists. Again.

Borderlands developer Gearbox Software announced today that, yes, as per earlier rumors they are working on Duke Nukem Forever. It's playable on the PAX floor, it's looking not-bad and it's due out (according to the Wall Street Journal) "next year" "in 2010." Hm.

Unfortunately, we seem to have little media so far, not even a teaser trailer - just this cam vid from the show floor featuring a pretty reporter who admonishes her camera operator: "don't shoot me, they don't want to see me - shoot the game!"

On the one hand, I do want to see more of the game. On the other hand, she is very pretty.

Reaction across the internet has raged from understandable glee to understandable disinterest to understandable suspicion that Gearbox's Duke Nukem Forever will, in fact, ever be released.

The most troubling statements suggest that this new DNF will be "generic."

I don't think those folks ever actually played a 3D Realms Duke Nukem game - or if they did, they simply failed to identify what separated Duke from the pack.

Duke Nukem
started out as a fairly by-the-numbers 2-D platformer-shooter from Apogee Software - a mighty king of the shareware-based gaming that dominated the early and mid-90s. They would release the first quarter of a game for free - the first Episode - and ask you to pay for the rest.

Fortunately, the first episode was often all you needed. Point being, the original Duke Nukem games were, yes, largely generic.

Duke Nukem 3D was only generic in terms of gameplay. It was another sprite-based FPS. You get a pistol, a shotgun, a machinegun, a rocket launcher and a few other more zany weapons. Particularly interesting, at the time, were laser tripmines you could attach to walls and floors and pipe bombs with remote detonation.

But no, what separated Duke Nukem 3D from the pack was presentation. Specifically the voice work, the attitude, the snappy one liners and the strippers. DN3D was essentially exploitation gaming - blood, swears and never-quite-bare jubblies. It has everything a pubescent male mind desires.

Now, Duke Nukem Forever will - in all likelihood - be generic in how it plays. Most FPS that have gameplay "hooks" don't end up separating themselves from the pack, in the long run. What I hope separates Duke Nukem Forever from your Call of Duties, your BioShocks, your F.E.A.R.s and, well, almost any other modern FPS, will be it's total lack of pretension.

It won't discuss philosophy, it won't thoughtfully examine the horrors of war, it won't consider man's dual nature. You will blow shit up, and there will be titties.

Duke Nukem 3D was so opposed to taking itself seriously, it practically mastered the form. The games were fun, funny, clever and still ultra low-brow. That is my one hope for Duke Nukem Forever - and if it accomplishes that, it will be a rare FPS that is the precise opposite of generic.

...and early impressions confirm it.
The game is 100% in the spirit of classic Duke. By this point in the demo you've been hit with "Hail to the King, Baby," and sooner or later he's whistling, laughing at the bad guys he kills and lamenting that "Those alien bastards are going to pay for shooting up my ride."

. . .

P.S. The trailer being shown behind closed doors for the game includes strippers and a three breasted giant monster. Of the latter, Duke says, "Hell, I'd still hit it."

Day one.

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