Today is a day that will long be remembered among fans of first person shooters: Duke Nukem Forever has an announced release date and isn't some variation of "when it's done." Just let that sink in for a minute. By Christmastime next year, you'll definitely have a chance to play Duke Nukem Forever, a game that, until a few hours ago, I assumed my children's children would never see.
But the Duke is back and he's bringing some new friends with him, specifically Randy Pitchford and his team at Gearbox Software. After turning Borderlands into something of an underground sensation, Pitchford needed a new challenge. And I believe he's found it in Duke Nukem Forever.
Gearbox is no stranger to the ways of the Duke. Pitchford himself got his start at 3D Realms (the original developer of Duke Nukem Forever), working on the Atomic Edition of Duke Nukem 3D. And when DNF appeared to stand for "Did Not Finish," 2K contracted with Gearbox to create a prequel game known as Duke Begins. That game never saw the light of day, but it laid the groundwork for this historic passing of the torch due to the demise of 3D Realms.
While 3D Realms President George Broussard isn't involved in the Duke Nukem Forever shenanigans at PAX, he has been very active on Twitter over the last 24 hours. The blustery Broussard actually jumped the gun by posting a picture of flying pigs (including one wearing Duke glasses) just before the announcement. Later, he would go on to confirm that Gearbox won't be starting from scratch with Duke Nukem Forever and will instead incorporate all of the content 3D Realms' created before their 2009 shutdown.
The barrage of information relating to the "new" Duke Nukem Forever began with a single piece of concept art:
As you can see, pig cops will return (albeit without police uniforms) and Duke will continue to blast the living hell out of them.
Owing to the Duke's new release date, 2K Games also revealed that the game will also be released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Interestingly enough, multiple console ports of Duke Nukem Forever have been in development over the years including one for the Xbox and another for the GameCube. Multiple versions of Duke Nukem Forever call for multiple developers and Gearbox will be assisted by Piranha Games in putting the finishing touches of the game. Triptych Studios, a team made up of former members of the Duke team at 3D Realms, was also recently hired by Gearbox to lend their expertise to the development process.
But enough of this stuff, let's get down to the demo.
The game begins, as you'd expect, with Duke standing at a urinal. Pressing the Right Trigger will allow players to create a nice yellow arc before the business of busting heads can commence. An interactive whiteboard (detailing "Operation Cock Block") has been posted outside the bathroom, allowing Duke to indulge in his creative side (and causing a soldier to remark "That's a great plan! If we had done that, that guy over there would still have his arm! And at least one of his balls."). Exiting the bathroom and locker room, Duke finds himself in a football stadium with one very pissed off Cycloid Queen.
Dozens of hands-on previews have begun to be posted on the Internet and they all agree, Duke is as vulgar as ever. But the game is more than just potty mouths and (literal) potty humor, it sounds pretty exciting as well:
One of the highlights of the demo is a huge boss fight against a one-eyed monster, the same fight you may have seen in screens leaked from the game's long-winded past. Armed with explosive missiles, it's a pretty easy first boss fight, although when it starts boosting toward Duke and kicking him over, things get a little hairy. The fight takes place in a football stadium, which comes into play during the battle's grand finish, when the boss's eye falls out, and Duke proceeds to kick it over the goal in a glorious finisher.
Duke [is] in fine form, kicking alien ass with a variety of his best weapons, like the shrink ray, freeze ray, and Devastator. It looks like the aliens Duke punished in his earlier games are back ? and they are here for our women. This personal affront to Duke leads him on a mission to kill everything in his way, including a giant alien queen with three breasts. And in typical Duke fashion, after seeing the entirety of this tri-boobed monster, the hero quips, "Hell, I'd still hit it."
Duke's arsenal is another area that plays heavily on the nostalgia while also updating things for the here and now. Duke will have the option of carrying two weapons at a time including a pistol, the Freeze Ray, the Shrink Ray, a shotgun, a chaingun and a rocket launcher. His familiar pipebombs are also back. Scoped weapons can be used to zoom in on enemies, causing the world around Duke to get hazy as he focuses on a soon-to-be dead alien.
In addition to pig cops, strippers and other familiar bits of Dukenalia, Duke Nukem Forever will also include driving sections (featured in the second level of teh demo, a canyon, with Duke's monster-sized monster truck) and a dedicated "Beer Button" (Left on the D-Pad, in case you were curious). A multiplayer mode of some kind will also be heavily featured, but Pitchford's not ready to talk about it just yet.
Thirteen years in the making or not, Duke Nukem Forever sounds like a ride we won't soon forget:
Cue the Duke Nukem Forever logo and a camera pulls back to show that Duke, in first-person, was playing a video game. He's got a gold Xbox 360 controller with the face buttons re-named as D, U, K and E. There's a busty lady in a schoolgirl outfit near the bottom of your first-person view. And there's a second one. One stands up and wipes her mouth.
"What about the game, was it any good?" one of them asks.
"Yeah, but after 12 ****ing years it should be," he answers.