Is this happening? Could it really be? This game, ephemeral, phantasmal, like a wraith clinging to long dead tree branches, has finally materialized into a physical thing. It exists. Its coming. And I’ve played 20 minutes of it. Oh God, the world must be ending…
Yes, its long been the industry wide joke to go to when talking about long development times. Oh ho ho, you chuckle. Dook Nookum Forever! Note the italics on the word Forever. It is necessary to emphasize that word when talking about Duke Nukem Forever. The game has been in development since Clinton was president. And you know, so much time has passed that I have to wonder something. Should Duke even be coming back? The man is steeped in the lore of the 90s. He’s gaming EXTREME!!! personified. He was what we used to think mature was when we were all 12 and there was nothing more awesome than blowing people up or getting to see strippers. Or some combination of the two activities. Levels consisted of getting from one end to the other with not much to stop you beyond tons and tons of enemies. No thinking needed. So can Duke survive in this new world of video game sophistication?
You know, if Bulletstorm can, Duke can. That’s what this demo has showed me. Bulletstorm is pretty much Duke Nukem with a tether. Its crass, rude and uncomplicated in the simplicity of its goals. Duke has similar goals. The first level is the one we’ve all seen before. The football stadium has a big alien guy in it. You must shoot the big alien guy with a rocket launcher until it collapses and you can punt its eye over the field goal. Then we find out it was all a game and Duke was playing it while being…ahem…gratified by two ladies. Two at once…I don’t even know how that works. But that’s Duke for you. This man gets it done.
After that there is a brief driving segment through the desert in Duke’s big ass truck. It runs things over, it crashes through things, it jumps cliffs when you hit turbo. Its a truck. What, you want it to fly? Well, it doesn’t. Because, again, truck. Then the truck part is over and you control Duke again. The pig cops come at you sans their cop uniforms. I must say, its not very satisfying to shoot things with your pistol. It just feels unresponsive. These guys absorb damage. This is one of the things that modern shooters have added to. You can often tell that enemies don’t like being shot at. But Duke keeps it old school like that. Things get better though when you get new weapons. The shotgun kicks ass, as does the sniper rifle and assault rifle. But my favorite was the shrink ray. You shrink bad guys then walk up to them to automatically step on them. Its fantastic. Unfortunately the time with the shrink gun is brief as I have to swap it for a turret gun and blow the crap out of some pigs. Fortunately this is quite satisfying to do with shacks loaded for some ungodly reason with tons of exploding barrels. Things go boom. I am happy. And then the gunship comes in. I switch to a rocket launcher. I have to lock on to the big ass ship that is firing machine guns at me in order to actually hit it. It goes down. The kind man behind me taps my shoulder. It is, sadly, time to leave the world of Duke.
So, is Duke Nukem Forever worth the forever-feeling wait? I dunno. If you wanna get right down to it the game is a fairly standard shooter with a lot of personality. But it doesn’t really matter. I’m still getting this game day one. Its Duke Nukem Forever. This thing should not exist. That I have actually played it…it just blows my mind.