Holy crap. Duke Nukem Forever rose from the ashes as a playable demo at PAX 10. And I got to play it. I don’t even have anything to say as an intro, so as they say, it’s time to preview Duke and chew bubble gum, and I’m all outta gum.
Your short history lesson: Duke Nukem 3D was an awesome game back in the day that made a name for itself by being an over-the-top parody of macho men with guns. Duke Nukem as a character is pretty much what happens when you mix Bruce Willis with Arnold Schwarzenegger and top it off with Bruce Campbell. The game was never meant to be taken seriously, other than the excellent gameplay the game sported. Duke Nukem 3D was just a good game meant for fun, but it still deemed worthy of a sequel. A sequel that would never come.
For the better part of twelve years, Duke Nukem Forever was in development hell, constantly being teased and referenced and eventually shown in terms of screenshots, but the wait became longer and longer, ultimately making Duke Nukem Forever the official punchline of the game industry next to Jack Thompson and Mudkipz. Around a year ago, the joke died and news came out that 3D Realms, the developers of Duke Nukem Forever were shutting their doors and leaving Duke in limbo.
Imagine the surprise on the faces of gamers when Duke showed up at PAX alive and well. Put simply, it was so mind blowing that it didn’t register for me until a day or two after the event. Seeing the Duke Nukem Forever space on the exhibit floor caused many a double take to occur.
PAX goers fortunate enough to withstand the 5 hour+ line to get into the booth were greeted with a spotless trailer built with the notion that even Gearbox, the new developers of the game (and some previous developers from 3D Realms), were in on the joke and played it up for great effect. The trailer does justice to both the game-to-be and the mythos surrounding it. Plus, it’s damned hilarious.
After the trailer we were escorted into the second portion of the room where we were handed Xbox 360 controllers and told to play a 15-minute demo. The controls were perfect, the humor was perfect, the graphics were perfect. This was a perfect demo. I want to play the full game now. In fact, I was to download Duke Nukem 3D off of Xbox Live just so I have that, too.
In the demo, you as Duke relieve yourself at a urinal and then walk out into a debriefing room where you’re told to go kill some big old alien SOB. You mess around at a whiteboard, then head onto a football field and riddle this creature with bullets before kicking its giant eyeball through the end zone goalposts. That done, the demo takes you to an entirely different level where you ride around in a monster truck before getting into a firefight with tons of enemies that die really nicely. I liked the variety of guns I could use since they felt good to control. Essentially, the controls just feel good all around. Everything about this demo feels right.
As strange as it is to say it, Duke Nukem Forever is real and it is good. I’m buying this when it comes out unless something unforeseeable stops that from happening. You should probably reserve your copy now. Otherwise, hail to the king, baby.
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