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Duke Nukem Forever (Video Game Preview)

It’s a vaporware joke that’s finally come full circle. When 3D Realms announced it way back in 1997, many considered Duke Nukem Forever the anti-hero’s second coming to the gaming scene. Then gamers waited. And waited. And waited. By mid-2010, Duke Nukem Forever had become something of a vaporware joke, with many stating that, despite the leaked footage and promised potential, it would never come. But then something happened. At PAX 2010 in Seattle, 2K Games and Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford, still fresh from his team’s success on Borderlands, literally shocked the world. They not only announced the return of the oft-delayed (and somewhat cancelled) Duke Nukem Forever, but actually stated that – wait for it – it was playable. And now, with a recently-passed Las Vegas press event (which took place at a strip club, literally), where it was playable for 90-minutes, and a full-on promotional tour in tow (complete with a sweet new trailer), Duke Nukem Forever is finally coming. And this May, we’ll see whether the long-wait was actually worth it.

Plotline? Who really cares about a plotline? Come on. Duke Nukem Forever follows the same unapologetic path that previous games did – aliens are taking over the world and it’s up to Duke to singlehandedly stop them. It features a cigar-chomping, insult-spewing gunman who’ll do whatever it takes to please the ladies and slay the aliens that are invading our planet. And he’ll do that by any means necessary, whether it’s running down foes in a monster truck (our favorite part of the game thus far) or grabbing a nearby weapon, like a shrink gun or shotgun, and mowing them down like fresh grass. Some of the guns felt a bit underpowered and we’re hoping that changes as you progress further into the game. It almost seems as if Gearbox took a large amount of notes from what 3D Realms was tinkering with after all these years, fashionably putting together a shooter that lives up – or down – to Duke’s traditional standards. He’ll come through with all sorts of mature-rated one-liners while shooting at enemies, cracking wise even though he means business. And just wait until he steps behind a turret.

2K Games isn’t shy about shooting for the mature rating, either. Aside from scantily clad ladies and plenty of swear words, Duke Nukem Forever will also feature all kinds of bloodshed, whether you’re shredding an alien boss to bits or telling a three-boobied monster that you’d still “hit it”, even though you’re actually focused on killing them. Really, it’s what Duke Nukem is all about, and the fact we’re finally getting it after all these years is a delightful treat. The levels themselves have a wide variety thus far, ranging from destroyed cityscapes to wide-open canyons, where aliens come out in hordes to kill Duke. One thing Duke Nukem Forever won’t have are massive battle scenes, the developers are going for a more traditional gameplay style with smaller locales and more-focused warfare. The animation is pretty sharp thus far, even if we don’t see much of Mr. Nukem himself delivering his nasty business (it would be nice to see a gun sight when zooming in). No matter, his brutality definitely shows through the well-set first-person perspective. Of course, we’d expect no less from Duke…or Gearbox, for that matter.

The power bar has been replaced by Duke's "ego" and it can be enhanced by doing manly things, such as working out, signing autographs, or shooting hoops. One of our favorite parts of the demo featured a shrunken Duke and an RC car, as well as some original puzzle gameplay. Everything in the DNF universe can be interacted with, from taking a piss in the urinal to drawing out plans on a locker room whiteboard. After spending a good hour-plus with Duke Nukem Forever we have to admit it’s graphically a bit outdated but if you’re looking for a next-gen version of the classic game Gearbox has nonetheless created it, and that’s really what counts when it comes to this game’s relaunch. It’ll be interesting to see how the final version turns out after all this time, especially with multiplayer and, of course, the overabundance of adult content. Considering how well Randy Pitchford and Gearbox do with multiplayer it’s the one aspect of DNF that we hope to see some serious improvement over the original game from ten-plus years ago. There are things that need to be fixed, and upgraded. But it’s nice to finally see Duke Nukem Forever is no longer a vaporware joke. Stay tuned for more coverage on this title as it’s May 2011 release date nears; long live the king.
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