Most of the Midlands was showered in a horrific mixture of blood, piss and tears the other day when resident Demon Pigeon manchildren Dan and I were finally given the news we had waited half our stupid fucking lives for – Duke Nukem Forever IS being released.
Some of you may not understand this excitement, but let me put it to you like this. Imagine spending your adult life with this blind faith to a myth, to something that may not even exist. Along this path you will have your faith tested, stretched to breaking point, even. Then, one day, completely out of the blue, you are rewarded. The second coming.
Playing Duke Nukem 3D for the first time as an impressionable 13/14 year old was probably terrible for my mental state, when I really think about it. The hero of the piece, The Duke himself, is an arrogant chunk of misogynistic meat who shoots his way through several species of alien to save the planet, quipping sweary one liners and oggling strippers as he goes. Then shooting them to pieces afterwards. Needless to say, anyone my age at the time who managed to find themselves a copy absolutely loved it. The fact it was (still is) a fantastic shooter full of interactivity means that although Duke himself is a bit of a relic of the 80’s action movie days, the game itself has held up fairly well against the test of time.
So, after several re-releases of Duke 3D, the world started waiting for his next move. In 1998 came this trailer, showing what was supposedly coming “soon”.
With Goldeneye showing what could be done on consoles, Quake 3 just round the corner on PC and a little known game called Half Life making waves, Duke Nukem Forever appeared a bit, well, backwards thinking quite quickly, and was reworked once more. Disappearing from the face of the planet yet again, before a 2001 trailer, that showed similar settings to the 1998 one, but with a lick of paint and considerably more cinematic flair, something that was needed in a post Half Life FPS genre.
It is pretty clear that if the game had been released in that window it would have been brilliant. The trailer shows off locational damage, destructable scenery, massive amounts of fun weaponary, the trademark interactive world and a much more movie-like presentation, Duke was back to the frontline and everyone began eagerly awaiting the game once more.
And they kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
Again, the entire genre changed. Halo appeared and shifted the traditionally PC focus of the FPS game to consoles. Doom 3 set a new graphical benchmark, for a while, and Half Life 2 was released and changed EVERYTHING. Again. Half Life has been a real thorn in the side of the Duke.
Radio silence, once again. Duke Nukem Forever became a running joke within the industry, and reports of restarts and legal issues came out of the 3D Realms camp. Duke was in trouble. A few screenshots here and there were leaked and debated over by sweaty nerds worldwide. A teaser trailer was released once again, but had very little in the way of actual game content. The reports all appeared to be true, and the likelyhood of ever seeing the game finished was very slim.
Then it happened. Publisher Take Two pulled the plug, and Duke Nukem Forever was dead in the water. In the fallout, a few programmers and artists who found themselves looking for work leaked a few bits and pieces as part of their portfolios, as it was all they had to show for over a decade of development time. Only the few kept their faith in these trying times. The ones who had bet everything on Duke.
On Friday, at the PAX Prime event, Gearbox software, headed by Randy Pitchford, who worked on the original Duke Nukem 3D, brought Duke Nukem Forever back to life. “Polishing”, in their words, the work that had already been done throughout the years and is aiming for a 2011 release. They had a playable demo on site, and a trailer that is yet to be seen by the public. This is more than anyone has seen of the game in fifteen years. Early reports seem to indicate a solid, confident shooter, full of the trademark things that make Duke Nukem, well, Duke Nukem. A relic, a throwback, but in a genre now full of po-faced Call of Duty wannabes, the world needs something as utterly ridiculous as Duke Nukem Forever. Oone of the most ridiculous games of all time, before it has even been released.
With The Chinese Democracy available in bargain bins worldwide, Mustaine joining Metallica onstage and the imminent release of Duke Nukem Forever, the 2012 apocalypse is looking more and more likely. If Dr. Dre threatens to release “Detox” any time in the next 24 months, we may as well kiss our pitiful futures goodbye.