Ah, Duke Nukem Forever. A game with so many showings in the Wired Magazine vaporware list that it got a lifetime award is finally off that list. It would be academic to ask if it the end result was worth the wait - it just isn't possible that any game that took more than ten years to materialize would clear that hurdle, let alone a fairly simple first person shooter sequel to a game that earned a place in PC gaming history with tits, low-brow humor and crude oneliners. I'm 2298 also not going to hold Duke Nukem Forever to that standard - in my view the only open question is, is it fun?
In case you were too young to play Duke Nukem 3D back in 1996, the concept of the original was simple; Aliens have invaded Earth and are stealing our women. While armies of earth are powerless to stop the invasion, Duke Nukem goes for one-man rampage against the alien menace, "kicking ass and chewing bubblegum - and I'm all out of gum". Truth to be told, there really wasn't that much of a story to Duke Nukem 3D - it was just a fun mindless romp against pig-faced aliens with a suitably wide selection of weaponry to blow them back to where they came from.
Duke Nukem Forever is effectively a re-run - the aliens are back for round 2. The President holds back the military and tries to be diplomatic but Duke knows better and, after a lengthy introduction level without a gun in sight, DNF turns into another first person shooter romp through some varied play areas with generic objectives - kill the alien invaders and reach the end of the level, solving any small puzzles that come up along the way.
The action level varies a lot and if you were looking for mass killing of hordes of enemies, you might be better off looking at the upcoming Serious Sam game - Duke may be again kicking some alien ass, yet DNF sure isn't a pure non-stop shooter - there is a lot of problem solving and adventuring thrown in as well. Oh, and Duke is just as crude with the humor as always and there is plenty of gratuitous female bare skin. At times Duke makes stuff like South Park look tame in comparison, so if you are easily offended, consider yourself warned.
Duke Never Comes Early
Whole books could be written about the protracted development process of Duke Nukem Forever. Originally announced for mid-1998, it went trough a series of engine changes that inevitably restarted the development progress pretty much from scratch. Several competing games turned unfinished Duke obsolete - Quake II made the original Build Engine obsolete, Unreal and Unreal Engine did the same to Quake II-based Duke the next year and rumors also place Doom 3 engine somewhere in the mix, even if the final product is based on Unreal Engine 3 - with a ton of custom modifications.
The relentless pursuit towards perfection also led to delays as 3D Realms was trying to squeeze every new FPS genre innovation into the game - effectively competing with the whole FPS genre while it was rapidly evolving. No wonder they could never get the thing finished. And for a while, it seemed DNF was fated to be scrapped as funding dried up and 3D Realms laid off the development team in May 2009. Lawyers fought over the corpse of the game for the rest of 2009 as old contracts were dug up and accusations over the failed project flew thick. Lawsuit was settled in mid-2010 with undisclosed terms and it seemed to be "game over" for Duke.
But you can't keep Duke down that easily. In September 2010 Gearbox Software showed the game at Penny Arcade Expo and announced that it had purchased the IP rights to Duke Nukem from 3D Realms, planning to finish the game. Duke was back and was going to ship in 2011. An actual release date for Duke (first time since 2001) was announced - May 3 - but it wouldn't be Duke if that would have actually held. Fashionably late, Duke Nukem Forever finally shipped on June 14th 2011 - delayed by 13 years from the original 1998 release date. What's a decade between friends, right?
Games: Duke Nukem Forever
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