Duke Nukem Forever (probably) isn't for you; and thats okay.

May 7th 2009 a day that many will remember as the day Duke Nukem almost died.  After 12 years of highs and lows the news that 3D Realms and Duke Nukem Forever were in dire trouble trickled across the Internet.   Many met the news by succumbing to the gnawing feelings of apathy that had every so slowly built up after heartbreak after heartbreak.  

The faithful few Duke fans left lamented the death of their hero and his fall from grace.   Seemingly being labeled as forever as the joke of the video game industry.  No matter what side of the coin you were on that day it seemed as if Duke was gone forever.  Fast forward to  May 2011 and since then Gearbox Software helmed by Randy Pitchford coming of the outstanding success of  Borderlands snatches up the Duke franchise and as of this writing the game has gone gold and  we are exactly 17 days away from an actual retail release.

So whats the whole point of this diatribe you say?  Well, lately I’ve heard numerous people both in the press and amongst the unwashed masses of gamers themselves making off the cuff remarks on how  Duke Nukem Forever is going to be horrible.Don’t get me wrong everyone has a definite right to have an opinion.  In this case however I just feel that people are barking about something that they would have hated regardless.   Gearbox has been pretty transparent that they are finishing Duke Nukem Forever for exactly two reasons.  

The largest of the reasons being all the hard working men and women that worked at 3D realms that worked on this game for so long.   Randy Pitchford of Gearbox got his start at none other than 3D realms and Duke 3D was in fact his first project.   It goes without saying that for many there are seemingly deep emotional ties to  the Duke franchise.  

I’ve heard phrases like “this game is so 1999” being used in conjunction  with describing the games design.   And quite honestly... they are right.   Duke Nukem Forever is a 2011 game with the soul of a 1999 game.   This fact alone is what makes the game so seemingly polarizing.   I’m sure many will look at the game as being archaic and badly designed.   Especially after coming off of games like  Call of Duty Black ops and Halo Reach both games that are good in their own rights.

  Duke however isn’t from that ilk of game.   Modern shooters strive to be big budget and cinematic and have progression in multiplayer and huge set peices and the biggest baddest graphic engines.   Duke however is about the game. Oddly enough, 1999 was the first time I got my hands on Duke Nukem and I was 14yrs old.  Now yes, looking back at 14 I really shouldn’t have been playing Duke and it wasn’t from lack of my mother trying to stop me from playing it either.

Regardless, I was fascinated by the game.  It was’nt the first FPS game I had played those honors go to Goldeneye 007.  However, it was the first FPS game captured my attention so readily.   A good portion of what attracted my 14yr old mind to the game is the obvious gratuitous boobs and violence.  I never proper owned a copy of the game and honestly never even played the PC version as I was only ever able to play the  N64 version of the game.   I had wondered for years afterward if my attraction and fond memories for the game were simply as shallow as  the violence and the overt sexuality the game pushes.

Luckily Microsoft released  Duke Nukem 3D on XBLA a wonderfully adapted PC port that seemingly kept the original PC game in tact.   About this same time i was shelved in bed for about a week as I was recovering  from a surgery to repair a hernia.    I was excited to try the game out again and see if my childhood fascination with the game held up a good 9 years later.

I suprisingly tore into the game with a intense vigor with a smile on my face eager to get to the next level.    What hit me in the days to come is exactly why I like Duke Nukem and why the game has stuck with me as a seminal game.I think first and foremost the level design is  what really sets Duke Nukem over the top for me.   Unlike modern shooters that keep pushing you forward to see “the next  big set peice”  many FPS games of this era like Duke and Doom before it were surprisingly as much about exploration as they were shooting baddies.Having a huge playground with tons of secrets to explore was always one of the joys of the shooters of the era.   I remember watching my cousin play the game  and showing me  secret doors and switches that I would have never found otherwise.    The back and forth  of finding secrets and sharing them was a staple of gaming at that time.   

No matter  if it was impressing your friends in Mortal Kombat with the secret fatality you found or finding a secret room in Duke Nukem the community mind share of the local gaming scene  was a fun thing to be part of.The other part of Duke Nukem that I find holds up for me at least that separates it from Doom and other games of that generation that had similar exploration parts is that Duke Nukem was and still is funny.

The literal take of some of the jokes like mutant pigs that just happen to be “cops”  were honestly pretty funny.   Duke himself is a parody unto a parody of every 80’s action star  conglomerated into a single person.  His lines are intentionally cheesy and completely and overtly ripped from other movies.   Being so mired in 80’s and 90’s movies like Army of Darkness,They Live and Die Hard among others its obvious that Duke’s largest fan base most likely wasn’t born anytime after 1990.  

  In the 15 years since Duke 3D was released game design has obviously and significantly progressed and for the better.  Among the shuffle  into true 3D and the arms race to have the most realistic graphics with the most features I think some of the  elegant parts of video games were lost.  Games that are not afraid to be nothing more than  just a game.   Epic games alongside People Can Fly recently released Bulletstorm to much fan fare.  Now while I don’t know if  the guys at Epic or PCF are Duke fans I can say I think they felt much the same about the state of games.  Bulletstorm was a fantastic game and while it still has many of the modern game tropes it also felt like a distinct callback to games like Duke Nukem that were’nt afraid to be silly and fun for the sake of being fun.

  The obvious reality is that games are never going to be the way they used to be.  That's quite alright in my book.  All mediums progress and grow and change is good.   And since we’ve spent the last 15 years playing games like Halo, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six and others its no surprise that a game like Duke Nukem feels lost in time.   I can’t speak for every Duke fan out there but I can say that I don’t expect Duke Nukem Forever to go toe to toe with the other big games this year.   Hell, I don’t expect it to even sell all that well.    

I’m just glad that this game exists, period.   If all I get is a 5-8hr journey down memory lane this time in splendid HD I’ll be pretty content.    Duke Nukem Forever is the embodiment of 1999 game design and thats all it really needs to be.  A quick hello to the yesteryear of what games used to be.   All the fanfare glitz and glamor will be gone as soon as the salvo of big hitters start banging down the proverbial floodgates.   I will be glad I had my time with Duke.   He is like the friend I drifted away from.  Sure, we might not have much in common  anymore and we don’t hang out  but its good to say hello to an old friend that you used to know.    

   And that's why Duke Nukem Forever (probably) isn’t for you.  You might have just moved on or  you might have just never been around when Duke was and that's okay.   For us that do well, we’re all ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum and well... you know the rest or maybe you don’t and that's okay.

46 Comments
47 Comments
Edited by Demoskinos

May 7th 2009 a day that many will remember as the day Duke Nukem almost died.  After 12 years of highs and lows the news that 3D Realms and Duke Nukem Forever were in dire trouble trickled across the Internet.   Many met the news by succumbing to the gnawing feelings of apathy that had every so slowly built up after heartbreak after heartbreak.  

The faithful few Duke fans left lamented the death of their hero and his fall from grace.   Seemingly being labeled as forever as the joke of the video game industry.  No matter what side of the coin you were on that day it seemed as if Duke was gone forever.  Fast forward to  May 2011 and since then Gearbox Software helmed by Randy Pitchford coming of the outstanding success of  Borderlands snatches up the Duke franchise and as of this writing the game has gone gold and  we are exactly 17 days away from an actual retail release.

So whats the whole point of this diatribe you say?  Well, lately I’ve heard numerous people both in the press and amongst the unwashed masses of gamers themselves making off the cuff remarks on how  Duke Nukem Forever is going to be horrible.Don’t get me wrong everyone has a definite right to have an opinion.  In this case however I just feel that people are barking about something that they would have hated regardless.   Gearbox has been pretty transparent that they are finishing Duke Nukem Forever for exactly two reasons.  

The largest of the reasons being all the hard working men and women that worked at 3D realms that worked on this game for so long.   Randy Pitchford of Gearbox got his start at none other than 3D realms and Duke 3D was in fact his first project.   It goes without saying that for many there are seemingly deep emotional ties to  the Duke franchise.  

I’ve heard phrases like “this game is so 1999” being used in conjunction  with describing the games design.   And quite honestly... they are right.   Duke Nukem Forever is a 2011 game with the soul of a 1999 game.   This fact alone is what makes the game so seemingly polarizing.   I’m sure many will look at the game as being archaic and badly designed.   Especially after coming off of games like  Call of Duty Black ops and Halo Reach both games that are good in their own rights.

  Duke however isn’t from that ilk of game.   Modern shooters strive to be big budget and cinematic and have progression in multiplayer and huge set peices and the biggest baddest graphic engines.   Duke however is about the game. Oddly enough, 1999 was the first time I got my hands on Duke Nukem and I was 14yrs old.  Now yes, looking back at 14 I really shouldn’t have been playing Duke and it wasn’t from lack of my mother trying to stop me from playing it either.

Regardless, I was fascinated by the game.  It was’nt the first FPS game I had played those honors go to Goldeneye 007.  However, it was the first FPS game captured my attention so readily.   A good portion of what attracted my 14yr old mind to the game is the obvious gratuitous boobs and violence.  I never proper owned a copy of the game and honestly never even played the PC version as I was only ever able to play the  N64 version of the game.   I had wondered for years afterward if my attraction and fond memories for the game were simply as shallow as  the violence and the overt sexuality the game pushes.

Luckily Microsoft released  Duke Nukem 3D on XBLA a wonderfully adapted PC port that seemingly kept the original PC game in tact.   About this same time i was shelved in bed for about a week as I was recovering  from a surgery to repair a hernia.    I was excited to try the game out again and see if my childhood fascination with the game held up a good 9 years later.

I suprisingly tore into the game with a intense vigor with a smile on my face eager to get to the next level.    What hit me in the days to come is exactly why I like Duke Nukem and why the game has stuck with me as a seminal game.I think first and foremost the level design is  what really sets Duke Nukem over the top for me.   Unlike modern shooters that keep pushing you forward to see “the next  big set peice”  many FPS games of this era like Duke and Doom before it were surprisingly as much about exploration as they were shooting baddies.Having a huge playground with tons of secrets to explore was always one of the joys of the shooters of the era.   I remember watching my cousin play the game  and showing me  secret doors and switches that I would have never found otherwise.    The back and forth  of finding secrets and sharing them was a staple of gaming at that time.   

No matter  if it was impressing your friends in Mortal Kombat with the secret fatality you found or finding a secret room in Duke Nukem the community mind share of the local gaming scene  was a fun thing to be part of.The other part of Duke Nukem that I find holds up for me at least that separates it from Doom and other games of that generation that had similar exploration parts is that Duke Nukem was and still is funny.

The literal take of some of the jokes like mutant pigs that just happen to be “cops”  were honestly pretty funny.   Duke himself is a parody unto a parody of every 80’s action star  conglomerated into a single person.  His lines are intentionally cheesy and completely and overtly ripped from other movies.   Being so mired in 80’s and 90’s movies like Army of Darkness,They Live and Die Hard among others its obvious that Duke’s largest fan base most likely wasn’t born anytime after 1990.  

  In the 15 years since Duke 3D was released game design has obviously and significantly progressed and for the better.  Among the shuffle  into true 3D and the arms race to have the most realistic graphics with the most features I think some of the  elegant parts of video games were lost.  Games that are not afraid to be nothing more than  just a game.   Epic games alongside People Can Fly recently released Bulletstorm to much fan fare.  Now while I don’t know if  the guys at Epic or PCF are Duke fans I can say I think they felt much the same about the state of games.  Bulletstorm was a fantastic game and while it still has many of the modern game tropes it also felt like a distinct callback to games like Duke Nukem that were’nt afraid to be silly and fun for the sake of being fun.

  The obvious reality is that games are never going to be the way they used to be.  That's quite alright in my book.  All mediums progress and grow and change is good.   And since we’ve spent the last 15 years playing games like Halo, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six and others its no surprise that a game like Duke Nukem feels lost in time.   I can’t speak for every Duke fan out there but I can say that I don’t expect Duke Nukem Forever to go toe to toe with the other big games this year.   Hell, I don’t expect it to even sell all that well.    

I’m just glad that this game exists, period.   If all I get is a 5-8hr journey down memory lane this time in splendid HD I’ll be pretty content.    Duke Nukem Forever is the embodiment of 1999 game design and thats all it really needs to be.  A quick hello to the yesteryear of what games used to be.   All the fanfare glitz and glamor will be gone as soon as the salvo of big hitters start banging down the proverbial floodgates.   I will be glad I had my time with Duke.   He is like the friend I drifted away from.  Sure, we might not have much in common  anymore and we don’t hang out  but its good to say hello to an old friend that you used to know.    

   And that's why Duke Nukem Forever (probably) isn’t for you.  You might have just moved on or  you might have just never been around when Duke was and that's okay.   For us that do well, we’re all ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum and well... you know the rest or maybe you don’t and that's okay.

Posted by Liber

 
Before I read this wall of text ... Iam getting DNF just for the boobs.

Posted by xyzygy
@Liber: You know, you can freely look at boobs in more explicit ways on the internet. It's called Porn.
Posted by TooWalrus

I read this whole thing and it basically comes down to "whatever, Duke is Duke." However, I'm left with one nagging question- Is it common practice in some parts of the world to double, triple or quadruple space after every sentence?

Posted by SomeDeliCook

It is very easily possible to enjoy Duke Nukem Forever if your thought process isn't "This game took 14 years to make so it better be good!" and instead as "This game took about 3 to 4 years to make."

Posted by Video_Game_King

Wait, how can you say all that? Nobody has really played the game yet, so it's impossible to tell. Besides, this game CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD. Can you name any other game that died, only to get a release in the end?....Actually, Mother 3 had that exact same scenario, and it wasn't really that good. Fucking goddamn it.

Posted by ssj4raditz

Duke Nukem is definitely for me.

Posted by Demoskinos
@TooWalrus:  Yeah, I have a bad habit of doing that for no good reason at all.  Lol.
Posted by Liber

 
Serious Sam was kind of the successor to Duke with pure mindless action the cheesy 1 liners, I really like these games.

Posted by EuanDewar

I posted this in another thread but i'll say it again here cause it pretty much encompasses my thoughts on the matter:

I have a pretty low interest in actually playing DNF but I hope the game does well for Gearbox. They seem like a great group of guys who deserve to do well and anything that speeds up the development of Borderlands 2 is cool with me.

Posted by gamb1t

Grew up with Duke. I will enjoy every single second of this game.

Posted by LordXavierBritish

More games should be from 1999.

Posted by MikeGosot

I love games that reminds me of the 80's/90's. I think we need a beat'em up with local co-op. 

Posted by Demoskinos
@MikeGosot: Indeed.  Almost all old 80's 90's game tropes are gone.    Lives?, High Scores? Local Multiplayer? hell...not even many games do Health Packs anymore its all regenerating health.   I love new games but I'm all for games just openly giving the finger to modern game design and embracing the old school way.   Duke seems like one of those games for me.   
Posted by MikeGosot
@Demoskinos:  I LOVE HIGHSCORES! Also, i hate the "Regenerating Health" thing, it looks like the game is saying: "So, since you will run away anyway... I will give you health for it. Wooray cowardice!"
Posted by Demoskinos
@MikeGosot: Yeah, exactly.   A finite health bar really makes you plan what your strategy is going to be rather then just chip away at the problem , heal then rinse and repeat.
Posted by JazGalaxy
@Demoskinos:  I agree 100% with what you're saying. 
 
I think the most frustrating thing about duke nukem forever and it's current reception is that people keep comparing it to call of duty or halo and saying the gameplay looks too different and is therefore worse. They don't get that the gaming industry doesn't "evolve", it's hyper trendy. And no more than wearing Toms is "better" or more "evolved" than wearing Nike High Tops, neither is big set piece level design better than the way games were designed in the 90s.  
 
Sadly all the boobs and foul language that Duke was notable for belies the brilliance of the original games. I mean, Duke pioneered, and in many ways has never been eclipsed in the areas of defensive weaponry, traps, items etc.  
Posted by Demoskinos
@JazGalaxy: For sure, half the fun of the game is just exploring the world and the game does a excellent job of giving you reasons to want to replay.   Hollywood Holocaust  is most likely my favorite first person shooter level  pretty much ever.   Something about the design of that level is just so damn great.   First time I booted up the XBLA version like riding a bike I remembered (almost) all of the secret spots in the level. 
 
I really liked Bulletstorm for these exact reasons it was a game that wasn't afraid to just be fun with ridiculous guns and all.  
Posted by Gabriel

I'm kinda into Misogyny.

Posted by Zippedbinders

I'm pretty excited that this game isn't Call of Duty or Halo. I don't want to play those games, I want to play Duke. 
 
2011 is fast becoming the year of games being released that I never thought would see the light of day (Duke, MVC3, a 2D MK, Alice 2, a new id game, etc) and I couldn't be more excited.

Posted by MikeGosot
@Demoskinos: Also, pardon my ignorance but... DNF has a health bar? I never saw one in any of the trailers.
Posted by SomeDeliCook
@Video_Game_King said:
Wait, how can you say all that? Nobody has really played the game yet, so it's impossible to tell. Besides, this game CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD. Can you name any other game that died, only to get a release in the end?....Actually, Mother 3 had that exact same scenario, and it wasn't really that good. Fucking goddamn it.
Actually, development on it never stopped. The same guys (give or take a few) still kept working on it after 3DR let them all go. Then Gearbox picked them up and put further work into it. It never died, Duke just never comes early.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@SomeDeliCook
 
Wow, you just made that analogy much lamer. Now Duke has just gone into hibernation, which makes him a bear. That doesn't fit well with his hyper-heterosexual personality.
Posted by Zippedbinders
@Video_Game_King said:
@SomeDeliCook:   Wow, you just made that analogy much lamer. Now Duke has just gone into hibernation, which makes him a bear. That doesn't fit well with his hyper-heterosexual personality.
Its like you're being deliberately antagonistic.
Posted by bybeach
@Demoskinos said:
@TooWalrus:  Yeah, I have a bad habit of doing that for no good reason at all.  Lol.

That heretical form of  sentence spacing goes all the way back to typing, that is with typewriters. Some ppl. fell into the habit of hitting double space bar on the linear between sentences,  it was never accepted as orthodox.  But it does have a history of ppl. doing it. 
 
The only thing i can say is that from all indications I believe this will be a decent and competent effort. It will also allow Gearbox to continue on with a DN franchise if it is good enough, and put their own spin on it. I don't believe it will be crap. What I am sad about is the  D.N. game on the DS that just came out. It follows more an approach that was done pretty well in The Manhattan project, but itself falls flat, very poor reviews. I guess the PSP version isn't coming out at all.  

So I want this to do well...or good enough. Duke Nukem #D was about the very first PC game I played, though I was already quite old.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Zippedbinders
 
What? How? Which sounds cooler: coming back from the dead, or waking up from hibernation?
Posted by Demoskinos
@MikeGosot: Erm... kinda... it has a  "ego" meter.   Not entirely sure how it works but I know I read staring at yourself in a mirror is one of the ways to fill it back up which is goddamn hilarious.
Posted by Demoskinos
@Gabriel:  Shake it baby.
Posted by MikeGosot
@Demoskinos: That. Is. So. Awesome. WAIT! That's more than awesome. That. Is. So. Duke. 
Also, i heard Duke can drink some beer pressing a button. Is that true?
Posted by JazGalaxy
@Demoskinos said:
@JazGalaxy: For sure, half the fun of the game is just exploring the world and the game does a excellent job of giving you reasons to want to replay.   Hollywood Holocaust  is most likely my favorite first person shooter level  pretty much ever.   Something about the design of that level is just so damn great.   First time I booted up the XBLA version like riding a bike I remembered (almost) all of the secret spots in the level.  I really liked Bulletstorm for these exact reasons it was a game that wasn't afraid to just be fun with ridiculous guns and all.  
Dude, Hollywood Holocaust is the best FPS level hands down in my opinion. 
 
It was chalk full of secrets and you could attack it any way you wanted. And more than that, it was chalk full of environmental interactivity that was the hallmark of Duke. I don't think people get just what a big deal that was to the gameplay. If you were playing multiplayer and you ran into the bathroom and turned off hte lights, there was a million different strategies you could employ to get the jump on your enemy, from hiding behind the couch to hiding in the bathroom stall. Or laying a pipebomb trap and high tailing it out the vent before they flipped on the lights and realized what they had walked into. 
Posted by Demoskinos
@MikeGosot: Not sure about the beer thing.    Although that is so Duke that I'm sure drinking beer has to be in the game in some capacity.
Posted by McGhee

bOObies are for me

Posted by SomeDeliCook
@Video_Game_King said:
@SomeDeliCook:   Wow, you just made that analogy much lamer. Now Duke has just gone into hibernation, which makes him a bear. That doesn't fit well with his hyper-heterosexual personality.
Way to ignore the first half of my post. ;)
Posted by Subjugation

Balls of steeeeel.

Posted by BestUsernameEver
@LordXavierBritish said:
More games should be from 1999.
Carmageddon remake is coming soon.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@SomeDeliCook
 
That doesn't really change the fact that you destroyed a cool analogy for the Duke.
Posted by jkuc316

You got it when you were 14?! Im 14 now, maybe I should get DNF

Posted by Simplexity

It will be mediocre, if it wasn't called "duke nukem" and didn't have the development history it has nobody would even know this game existed.

Posted by DeeGee

Hmmm. I applaud you for trying to paragraph, but I think you went a bit overboard.

Posted by 71Ranchero

Im glad the game is coming out and I also prefer old style fps games to modern ones but its the actual character that i cant get behind. Perhaps I am too old to laugh at fart and boob jokes. I have no interest in this game at all. Bring on UT4 or a new Quake.

Posted by pweidman

Zero interest in DNF.  Only reason to hope it does well is to function as a funding stream for the development of an epic Borderlands 2.  Reviews should be interesting.
Posted by Klei

I agree with TC that Duke represents a dead genre in the market ; the good old shooter that wasn't on-rail like today's CoD's. I've got nothing against CoD, but early 2000 shooters were drastically different from what we have today. Even the early Moh's.

Posted by Helimocopter

ill totally buy DNF, if it is any good.

Posted by Gnubberen
@MikeGosot: @Demoskinos: Duke can pick up beer, and later drink it for an "Ego" boost.. But yes the ego bar is more or less the health bar, although it will recharge over time..
Posted by Yanngc33

I enjoy boobs, thus making this game for me

Posted by DarkGamerOO7

For me, I think Duke Nukem Forever will be a "so old and outdated that it is fresh and new" type of game.

Posted by Tebbit
@DarkGamerOO7 said:
For me, I think Duke Nukem Forever will be a "so old and outdated that it is fresh and new" type of game.
Either that, or so old and outdated that it kills every man who touches it. 
 
But I'm betting on the former.