Some people look up to movie stars and musicians, I look up to Ryan Davis

Well, it finally happened.

I suppose the timing is fitting, coming a week after he sadly left us, but tonight I finally shed tears for the best friend I never met; the king of the Summerjams, Mr. Ryan "Taswell" Davis. The podcast did it, which is probably of little surprise to those who have listened to it. The heartfelt thank you's of those who are feeling this the most (along with his wife and family) were enough to reduce me to a blubbering mess. I've been in a state of shock, I guess you could say, since the news broke on Monday. It didn't seem real, this is Giant Bomb, these guys are immortal! When something is such a constant in your life for so long you can't ever imagine it going away, not least until they were old men and this whole videogame thang had run its course. But that podcast provided that closure, the finality that a part of something I love so much was gone. Hearing that from the rest of the guys made it a reality that was too much to take.

Almost every waking moment since the news broke I've thought about Ryan in one way or another. All the wonderful things he's done, what he's meant to me throughout the years and how unequivocally sad I am that the show must come to an end far too soon. I've gone to bed feeling like shit and woken up feeling the exact same way, all for someone I've never met who lives on the other side of the world. But Ryan and the rest of the crew let us into their lives and for that I am eternally thankful. It has allowed so many other people from all over the world to connect with Ryan and this ragtag group, resulting in an outpouring of love and emotion from every corner of the internet. Giant Bomb feels like a family and that has been none more evident than this week. For all the bad things I've felt, rattling these feelings around in my brain, the Giant Bomb community has been here to make me laugh, and celebrate Ryan's life with the kind of joy he lived it. It's been hard, and I can't see it getting any easier for a good long while, but seeing how adored he was, and how he touched so many lives helps in a big, big way.

For me, it started in around 2003 I would say. I was still in school and without owning my own PC I never really used the internet that much - I used to go outside more back then! I read plenty of gaming magazines but absorbing that sort of content on the internet wasn't something that ever really occurred to me. I'm not sure how I stumbled onto Gamespot but it ended up being the only gaming site I would ever use, and it wasn't long after that that I started writing my own reviews and posting them up on GameFAQs for whatever dumb reason. They were terrible but it was a start and finally gave me a sense of purpose, a goal to strive for and something to note down when so many teachers at school would ask what I wanted to do in the future.

I got big into Gamespot when the hype train for the next-generation of consoles started rolling in 2005, and it was then that I really started to take note of Ryan, Jeff, Brad and all the others. They gave me the inspiration to apply for a media studies course at college, and this subsequently led to me joining a volunteer-run independent videogame website after I had finished, to better myself, learn and build a portfolio to try and make this a career. That was 2008, and in that same year I discovered Giant Bomb. I was devastated when Jeff was fired from Gamespot and promised to always keep an eye out for whatever he had in store. But I lost faith in Gamespot at that time and without the advent of the likes of Twitter it took half a year before I had even heard of Giant Bomb. When I finally did it became my little home on the internet, and served to reaffirm my ultimate goal of making it into this industry.

Ryan was someone I looked up to, an inspiration in so many ways. I won't rattle off all the reasons why because many others have done so and know so, but I will say he's a reason why I have over 90 user reviews on this website. This is what he meant to me, a role model, both in his profession and humanity, and someone I haven't gone a week without listening to or seeing in some dumb video since 2008. The ways and locations I listened to the Bombcast and consumed all of this content means he's almost engrained into every part of my life, reminding me everywhere I look. That's why this loss hurts so bad. Next to my own family or friends passing this is the worst thing that could have happened. Giant Bomb has been that constant in my life, somewhere I could go when I felt like shit and know I would leave with a smile on my face every single time. Ryan was a massive part of that. For a website all about the personalities, his was the biggest - and I'm talking about a site with Jeff fucking Gerstmann on it. I know the site will carry on - nothing stops the Bomb - and I'm confident and passionate enough about it that I know it will come back stronger than ever. But there will always be that void, that hole that can never be filled, and that's tough to deal with.

Sorry if this is a bit rough and doesn't always make sense but I just needed to get this out there. I've been struggling with what to say for the past two days because no words can match the man. I just wanted this on the record, so if he's up there connecting to the literal cloud - that sounds dumb as shit! - he'll know how much he meant to me: another random guy on the internet who loved him to bits.

I still have four episodes of the Bombcast on the backlog. I may never listen to them, partly because I fear it will be too difficult but also because it almost feels comforting to know there's still new Ryan content out there. Bittersweet.

RIP Ryan, and thanks.


Reintroducing Maximum Payne

After a nine-year absence and a shift in developer, Max Payne 3 was always going to be a curious title. Its early reveal, presenting a bald, overweight Max Payne amidst the slums of Brazil, was steeped in trepidation for fans of the series. This was a character well known for his slick stylings, leather coat and bad tie combination; a perfect protagonist for the surreal film noir world he inhabited and the frozen backdrop of a crime riddled New York City. Max had his inner demons but they were buried beneath the surface of graphic novel panels and John Woo inspired action.

Old and bald but still guns blazing
Old and bald but still guns blazing

In Max Payne 3 these issues bubble to the surface, no longer confined to introverted and metaphorical inner monologues and disturbing dream sequences laden with crying babies and trails of blood symbolic of his inner torment. This is an increasingly dishevelled Max Payne, with greasy hair, a scruffy beard and a constant drink almost embedded to one hand. His gloomy nights are spent drenched in sweat, throwing up into a sink before passing out in a drunken stupor; alcoholism taking its toll on an aging body and disturbed and broken mind. Rockstar Games and the Houser’s brand of storytelling and character development – not to mention tales of redemption - are certainly well equipped to handle this modern Max with the verve and vigour we’ve come to expect. But is it a shift suited to the character’s trappings and Remedy’s original vision?

This is a series known for its idiosyncrasies after all. Beyond the film noir and John Woo influences, Max Payne’s graphic novel panels are more than just a stylistic inclusion but a tone setter for some of the games more unique eccentricities. Like the graphic novels of print they delve into subjects film noir wouldn’t dare touch. WhileMax Payne doesn’t go as far as something like Sin City it does often veer into the unnatural with relative ease. The breaking of the forth wall is one such technique, while themes of Norse mythology, the Illuminati and the insanity of Mona Sax’s funhouse quickly follow suit to form some of Max Payne’s more self-aware and aberrant moments. It’s quirky and gives the series its own signature touch, effectively garnering a devoted fan base with its avant-garde nature as well as its distinctive gameplay mechanics.

Max Payne 3 is a far cry from Max's humble beginnings
Max Payne 3 is a far cry from Max's humble beginnings

With Rockstar taking the mantle, those ideologies have changed. Max Payne 3 loses its self-awareness and unconventional nature in favour of a gritty story grounded in realism; taking cues from films like Man On Fire and Michael Mann’s extensive filmography as Rockstar’s fascination with Hollywood so often does. The series’ film noir trappings still remain, but away from the snow swept streets of New York City they feel out of place amongst the humidity of Brazil. This is further compounded by a Max Payne who’s down on his luck, his often times humorous and metaphorical inner monologue replaced with writing that is more self-deprecating and verging on the depressing, delving into the psyche of a tormented individual full of remorse. It might not be classic Max but it suits the granular narrative he finds himself embroiled within.

Rockstar often touch on real-world issues in their games using their unique platform to provide some kind of social commentary on recent events. Max Payne 3’s look at the rich/poor divide between Sao Paulo’s glistening metropolis and its crumbling favelas provides the backdrop for a story heavy on slimy characters who double and triple cross each other at every juncture. The death toll rackets up into the bloody thousands, and as Max’s story progresses further and further his predicament worsens to a sickening degree. Violence and brutality is strewn throughout, and while it’s disturbing it loses some of its impact because this isn’t a personal story for Max. Unlike the first two games he is a passenger on this Brazilian rollercoaster, doing what he does because he feels it’s the right thing to do; fuelled by illusions of grandeur and a want to end it all, rather than vengeance for a dead family. You pity Max and his destitute state, but as the story progresses the expert character development at the heart of the experience puts you in love all over again.

Evolved, but still as iconic as ever
Evolved, but still as iconic as ever

This isn’t a deeply personal story and it might lose Remedy’s singularity, but the plight and rebuilding of Max Payne is an inherently engaging character tale that’s hard not to revere. His appearance changes from chapter to chapter as his wearisome and haggard state worsens. When he shaves off his hair and begins his road to redemption there’s a moment of elation as he becomes the avenging hero. His appearance signals his passage from worthless drunkard to a focused man on a mission as well as any of the game’s accomplished dialogue. It’s cinematic and modernises Max within this Hollywood-influenced story the same way its inclusion of cover does within the third-person shooter landscape. This is Rockstar’s way of doing things, and while fans of Remedy may not appreciate all of their changes, it gives Max a new lease on life, proving that he is one of video game’s saving graces. He deals with personal issues, taking us on a fascinating character arc that ends with a satisfying conclusion and a phenomenal pay-off for Max’s depressing beginnings. He grows into something wonderful, and all the world burns around him.

Even without its peculiarity Max Payne 3 succeeds at modernising a returning hero, bringing him into the 21st century with a superb character arc that stands defiant amongst so many generic one-note protagonists. He has deep issues and feels like a real person even as his boat hurtles through the air in slow motion, Max leaning over its side to rain down a hail of bullets on a fleeing gang. Its action is ridiculous, its story lacks real meaning aside from a thought-provoking message, but Max remains a constant source of enjoyment. We can only hope his journey hasn’t yet reached its explosive conclusion.


In the Company of the Force: A Newcomer's Look At An Old Republic

Delving into the world of MMOs can be a daunting proposition. More so than any other, it’s a genre that almost seems reserved for a certain type of person. One who knows and understands the terminology, the way each intricate system works, and one who is prepared to lay down a standard fee every single month. That fee can eat at you if you’re not careful. Every day you’re not playing you feel like you should be, just to justify this sceptical subscription to yourself. For newcomers to the genre, it can be a confusing and mesmerising world, completely different to any other gaming experience.

And it’s one I’m becoming all too familiar with. PC gaming has been an aspect of the industry that has thus far alluded me, but after buying a new gaming PC last year I got into it hard, and my wallet took the biggest hit (I blame the Steam sales for it all). So I figured, why not see what all the fuss was about? I dabbled in World of Warcraft and even spent a month with DC Universe Online, but I just failed to see the appeal that so many other people saw; so much so that hundreds and thousands of hours could be mercilessly spent on one single game.

It always seemed like a peculiar phenomenon: immersing yourself in a world of fetch quests and seemingly basic combat. And yet, for some reason, I still wanted in. Star Wars: The Old Republic was the game to tickle my fancy. Perhaps it was the allure of the Bioware name, or my affable relationship with Knights of the Old Republic, but I was prepared to be one of those MMO people: to learn the terminology, the myriad game mechanics, and to put down a monthly fee for as long as I could bare it.

So come release, there I am, in the early access for a Star Wars MMO; A $200 million MMO, no less. And I did what anyone with my mindset would do: I picked a Sith Inquisitor… because Lightsabers. If you’re going to offer me Lightsabers, I’m going to pick Lightsabers, especially if you combine it with Force Lightning - a winning combination no matter which way you spin it. And being an arsehole was immensely enjoyable! Forget about the gameplay, this is a Bioware game after all, so the writing, story and voice acting give it a tremendous pull. While most MMOs deal in text boxes, The Old Republic goes all out, giving you the same kind of presentation and quality as Mass Effect. Sure, it’s not quite at that sky-high level, but it’s damn close, and that means an awful lot.

The dialogue wheel gives you the opportunity to commit to the role playing, crafting a character with your own choice of words and morality-based actions. Being a Sith, I felt it was befitting to be a complete and utter arsehole. Some guy decided to give me grief so I stabbed him in the gut - that’s just how I roll. But more than filling me with deep satisfaction, what this did was give me a sense of overwhelming promise for things to come; an air of excitement for the opportunity to travel the galaxy with this character, and see where this grand, overarching story takes me. My history with MMOs may only be brief, but none have ever grabbed me in this way and given me such a unique onus to continue and dedicate hours and hours of my free time to this universe.

So I did, with a buddy in tow. During conversations we would interchange with one another, both our abhorrent characters combining to insult our way through the galaxy and maybe even kill a few Jedi along the way. Now I was starting to understand the genre’s appeal, the co-operative nature of it all offering up genuinely pleasing results. And yet, The Old Republic can be a distinctly single-player game if you let it. I recently began using a Jedi Knight to get a taste of the Republic side of things so I’ve been going solo and the core experience has essentially remained the same.

It takes one person to change a light bulb and, as it turns out, it also only takes one person to fetch a bunch of items. That may sound like a slight against the game, and in some ways it is. The combat is certainly gratifying but when so many of the quests are as similar as they are the presence of repetition is always an ominous and looming dark cloud. So it got me thinking about Knights of the Old Republic again, particularly because of the Jedi Knight’s quest line. It’s distinctly KoTOR, pitching your Jedi hero against a menacing Sith threat that places the entire galaxy in peril. That core story arc ticks all of the right boxes, offering the best content I’ve seen thus far, both in terms of the narrative, writing and the quests you partake in. But away from this core adventure you’re still left to clear through each environment, killing wave after wave of x amount of enemies and gathering items till your heart’s content. I’m still playing it after forty hours or so, but it’s the story that propels me forward, not necessarily the gameplay.

And that’s why Knights of the Old Republic is constantly rattling around inside my skull. Remove the fetch quests, beef it up a bit more and The Old Republic could be a new KoTOR, with a much lower budget. For an estimated $200 million cost, this is a supremely risky game, so plaudits must be directed EA’s way for sticking with it. The workload of over 800 developers and 1,000 voice actors is unprecedented, and that number is still rising as Bioware continue to produce more content, all at an ever rising cost. World of Warcraft’s billions of dollars worth of profit is certainly testament to the success of a business model like this, but the threat of failure must be a constant worry for EA and The Old Republic team, especially with WoW’s subscriber numbers dwindling over the past year. Free-to-play games are paving the way forward, and it will be interesting to see if the monthly-fee subscriber model will pay dividends here.

As an MMO newcomer I can still see its flaws. Head to any gaming forum and there’s a high probability The Old Republic discussion will be rife with those on both sides of the coin, talking about barren instanced planets, mundane over-long travel and a disappointing end game. I’m not there yet but I’m willing to keep playing and leveling up to reach it. MMO launches are rarely ever smooth, and while The Old Republic has its issues, it’s been a relatively impressive start. And that gives me hope for things to come. I might not be enamoured with the combat or its distinctly MMO quest design, but I can see the promise it holds. This is a long term commitment for EA and Bioware, and for the user base. It’s in its infancy now and I can only hope it fulfils its early potential for growth, blossoming into something more unique, away from the constraints of WoW’s rule.

Spending significant time with it has certainly been a learning experience. Its story has hooked me in with its expansive arc, and while I may not see the obvious appeal of its gameplay, I can see how it could metamorphose into something transcendent with an ever-growing list of co-operative Flashpoints, and maybe even the PvP arenas. So I’ll keep playing, perhaps against my better judgement, because it’s such an anomalous proposition, completely different from anything else out there. I’m curious to see where it goes from here. It’ll certainly be interesting.


Life and death of the PS3

As a reminder, here's what happened yesterday.
After trying to resuscitate it with some cold air and cleaning today, I eventually I gave up and ordered a 250GB Slim. Costs a bit more than repairing it but I'll get it much sooner and I'd much rather have a new system with new warranty than a repaired one that could go again at any minute. Of course, there was still the issue of the game being stuck inside, but with the use of some screwdrivers I managed to open it up and make my way through the tricky disc tray to get it out. Also removed the HDD, so if that still works I should be able to transfer my save data to the new 250GB HDD.


The "unbreakable" is broken

Yes, tonight my PlayStation 3 bit the dust. First time I'd turned it on in two days, played for around 15 minutes before it suddenly turned itself off. I thought maybe there was a problem at the mains but the red light came back on so I pressed that, the green light came on as normal before a yellow light switched on for a split seond before it began flashing red non-stop. Looks like the Yellow Light of Death has struck. I've been through four seperate 360s but this one hurts more than any of them. Not only is my game still in the system, but my game saves look to be lost and I'm probably going to have to pay a Hell of a lot of money to repair it. Compare that to the 360 with its free repairs, the HDD being fine and the predicatbility of it failing and my PS3 dying hurts a lot more.
What happened to the consoles of old? My NES and SNES still work yet my PS3 only managed 3 years and the 360 falls apart constantly. It's a disappointing turn of events and I can only hope the next generation is a lot more reliable.


Let's try this again

After my recent tragedy it's time I did a new blog post.

The reason for my failed midweek post was because of a few recent completions. Borderlands came first as I finished it at a level 36 having done every quest in the game. The last boss was a little disappointing and it's a shame you never get to see what's inside the vault considering you spend the whole game getting there, but besides from that it's a fantastic game. The minimal narrative picked up towards the end and became more focused, and the last few environments and enemies were great - I loved some of the snow effects; it made a nice change from the wasteland that had come before it. I'll eventually play it again and should be able to get to level 50. Then I'll probably give Mad Moxxi a go and buy Zombie Island as well.  
I also clocked in Dragon Age: Origins at 33 hours. Probably a bit too quick considering it seems to take most around 60 hours, but I did a bunch of side quests so I played about as much as I wanted to. Since I got freaky with Morrigan I had the option to get her preggers and pass the Archdemon's business onto the unborn child. Figured I may as well choose that option since I'd keep Morrigan around for the final battle, plus you get an Achievement for doing it that way as well. And speaking of the final battle: huge difficulty spike! I managed to run out of health kits and since I never had a healer in my party I found most of the latter  battles highly difficult. After multiple restarts I managed to get through it, and I praise the Maker that little dwarf dude was there to sell my some health.
After that it was time to move onto the Archdemon. I probably didn't handle this the best way but it was effective, at least. I just sat on a ballista and shot the crap out of it till it died. The ending wasn't great, especially the disappointing wrap up of events with the written prologue. Think that stuff could have been handled better, though I can't really fault the rest of the story since it was consistently briliant from beginning to end. Definitely one of the best games of the year and one of my favourite RPGs. I'm never one to start a game again right after finishing it but I did that with Dragon Age. Decided to go with a mage this time after using a soldier the first time through. Enjoying it more this time just sitting back and using the vast array of spells on offer, and this time I've got more people in my party, thus seeing more of what the game has to offer. I think I'll be playing this for a while yet, especially with an expansion pack coming up.
After finishing off these two I decided to go back to Mass Effect again. I wanted to complete it before the sequel comes out at the end of January so I started a new game on easy just to blast through it as quickly as possible. I mainly wanted to change some things that transpired in my first playthrough since I couldn't start Mass Effect 2 knowing that Wrex would be dead, or that I never had any kind of sexual relationship. So I played things virtually the same, only I stopped Wrex from dying and had some sexy time with Ashley. I'm fully prepared for the sequel now and I can't wait!
Whole world in my hand
Whole world in my hand
So a busy week of completing stuff. But it's also significant because I got a PSP Go. Had some extra money so I figured I may as well pick one up. I love the design, it's slick, the screen is awesome and it doesn't give me hand cramp like the 1000. I also love that I can now have the majority of games on me wherever I go, all within the machine. Bought a couple of cheap games so far like Loco Roco 2 and Puzzle Quest, and the other day I got my four free games from Sony. The offer doesn't apply in the US, but over here in the UK you get a free download with any PSP Go, and if you connect a regular PSP with a UMD inside it you're entitled to another three games from a particular list. For my free download I went with Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines since I didn't fancy Gran Turismo and already have Motorstorm: Arctic Edge. For the three it was pretty obvious what one's to pick so I want with Resistance: Retribution, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow and Killzone: Liberation. All quality games, but Resistance is definitely the best of the bunch. Can't stop playing it.
I was also supposed to get Bayonetta and Darksiders this week, but thanks to the UK looking like part of Russia, the mail was delayed and never showed up. I'm hoping they're here tomorrow, if not I'm going to be majorly pissed. It's crazy weather, never seen so much snow here. 


Anyway, that's all for now. Bye!

*Insert as many swearwords as possible here*

I just wrote a massive post here and then proceeded to accidentally delete it all when trying to edit a typo on a link. Let this blog post be a reminder to write this shit up in Word before putting it here.


A New Year; about time I started a blog

Yes, it's been a long time coming but I figured I may as well start a blog at last. I've had one post already, though that was just a little article I had previously written about Duke Nukem Forever; this is the real deal. I've decided I'll probably write one new post each week, that way I'll have more to talk about and the quality will hopefully be higher. So on we go!

It's just not fair.
It's just not fair.
With 2009 coming to a close I've been on a bit of an RPG bender this past week. I've completed all the games I wanted to play last year, leaving only the time-consuming RPGs to go.  First up is the stupidly hard, yet amazingly good, Demon's Souls; a game I've only really gotten into this past week despite buying it back in Novem ber. Since it's not out in the UK yet I had to import the Chinese version, which handily comes with an English language version on the disc - a handy tip for all those l ooking to import. To give you an indication of how crap I am, it took me around three hours to beat the first level - although I think I've improved recently. I've beaten the Armour Spider in the second world and had a go at the giant Knight back in the first world, coming to the conclusion he's way too difficult for me at the moment. So the third world is next, one of the easier worlds so far providing you quickly take out those damn octopus people and their stupidly powerful attacks.  Though one of the best things about this world so far has to be the atmosphere it creates. It's so creepy and ominous, and some of the torture equipment is truly frightening, especially some of the dudes stuck in giant vases. The whole game is like it and it really does a fantastic job of compensating for the minimal narrative, and making the fear of death even more prominent. Some may say it's an unfair game, but constantly dying and going back to progress further, learning the enemies routines and inching closer and closer to the end boss is surprsingly engaging and extremely satisfying.   
Now before I move on I thought I'd break things up with my Best of 2009 list, posted here on Giant Bomb. I changed it quite a few times over the past few weeks but I think I'm set with the current set-up. I think the deadline was put down as today so it will be interesting to see what comes out on top this week. Uncharted 2 was my favourite game this year by far and it was awesome to see it pick up the gong on Giant Bomb as well. It looked like Arkham Asylum would take it judging from the top 10 videos, but ultimately I think the best game won.

Best of 2009

ElectricBoogaloo: Best of 2009

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2. Modern Warfare 2
3. Batman: Arkham Asylum
4. Assassin's Creed II
5. Borderlands
6. Dragon Age: Origins
7. FIFA 10
8. The Beatles: Rock Band
9. Demon's Souls
10. Forza Motorsport 3

Moving on, I've also spent a lot of time with Borderlands this week. Got my Solider from level 28 to 33 and I think I'm pretty close to completing it now. I think I've done every side quest that's been available and I also purchased Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot this weekend. I'd rather play through The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, but Mad Moxxi has a bank that I just couldn't resist. I don't plan on actually playing it until I move my guy up to level 50, then I can play through on co-op with a friend. I did try it on my own but was brutally finished off in the second round. I think you really need to play it with friends to have any chance of getting through it. 
Finally I''ll round things off with some Dragon Age: Origins. Put in 30 hours so far; upto some of the Alienage stuff and working with Queen Anora. Not much to say other than it's a brilliant game. I love the story and dialogue, and the interactions with other characters are some of the highlights. However, after watching Giant Bomb's PC Game of the Year video I really wish my PC was good enough to handle this. The pausing and depth to the combat looks great, and it's not something you can really pull off on the 360 - at least I can't anyway. The UI works fine with the wheel, but it looks so much on easier on the PC, and Dragon Age was obviously built to be a PC game. As it is I generally tend to run it and bash everything with my own character, never really concentrating on the other members of my party unless they need urgent healing. It works fine, and I'm only playing on easy so hacking away at everything is sufficient enough. In the end I'm more bothered about the story than anything else. And more than anything it excites me more and more for Mass Effect 2.

Anyway, I'll end this now and probably be back again next week.

Switching Engines: A Twelve Year Ride Through Hell

Cast your mind back to 1997, if you can; April 28th to be exact. It was a long, long time ago - twelve years if you're counting. During that year Bill Clinton was appointed President for his second term, OJ Simpson was controversially found liable in court for two deaths, Tony Blair became Prime Minister - ending years of Conservative rule - Princess Diana tragically passed away and Manchester United once again won the Premier League title.

Again, I must stress, it was a long, long time ago. Since then natural disasters have shaken the world's core and terrorist attacks have left nations in mourning, changing the lives of millions across the globe. George Lucas went back to Star Wars and ruined it for everyone, Peter Jackson's magnificent Lord of the Rings Trilogy was released and thousands of video games have found their way into our hands along with twelve primary consoles spanning three generations.

April 28th 1997 was a long, long time ago, and yet, a game that was announced on that date has yet to see the light of day. "Come get some"? Be prepared to wait a while.

Most games that go that long without seeing release would have been cancelled long ago, drifting out of memory as we await the next Mario or Halo. Not Duke Nukem Forever. 3D Realms have spent the better part of the past twelve years teasing us with screenshots, videos and plenty of news that seems pretty redundant right now. Of course it all started with that announcement back in 1997, back when Forever was supposed to see a mid-1998 release date on the state of the art Quake II 3D engine. But even that wasn’t good enough, apparently. After an appearance at E3, and with the middle of 1998 approaching, fans were getting excited until George Broussard - co-creator of Duke Nukem - shot them down with the announcement that 3D Realms were changing engines to Epic’s new Unreal Engine.

Broussard insisted that this sudden change wouldn’t hold back release, despite all logic pointing to the contrary. Little did anyone know that this would be the first of many switches over the years as we saw delay after delay after delay - the next of which came a year later in 1999 when Forever failed to show up yet again. Y2K panic came and went as the world entered the new millennium, still with no Duke; a muscle-bound-action hero in the purest sense. He's the ultimate bad ass, spouting one liners left, right and centre as he blows away aliens and ogles women; he’s an egotistical womanizer - the Bruce Willis or Sylvestor Stallone of the video game world - and that's why so many people love him. He may be a one-dimensional character but he provides the perfect escape from the stress of the real world - a world that was still excited for the fun escape Forever would hopefully deliver.

Sadly, no one could experience this fun as engines switched once again to an updated version of the Unreal Engine they were already using. Come December, 3D Realms teamed up with Santa Claus to send out a Christmas card, hinting at a 2000 release; but predictability set in as 2000 came and went just like the years before it. Could 2001 bring some much needed hope? Surprisingly yes, as a two minute gameplay trailer was released to the world; “The Ultimate Ass Kicker” was here, as the trailer so elegantly put it, with vehicular sections - which included a donkey - plenty of action and grotesque new aliens, this trailer showed a lot of promise; the voice acting was cheesy as hell but the graphics were impressive, especially in the facial animation department. Could Forever finally find its way onto store shelves? 3D Realms official word was that it would be here “when it’s done”.

Well, people moved into 2002 and it still wasn’t done as another shake-up occurred in development. Rather than switch to another new engine, 3D Realms hired a bunch of new programmers and set upon creating their own engine - obviously forcing many more delays. At this point people were beginning to get restless. The 2001 trailer brought about plenty of optimism, but this move was another giant set back.

After changing their stance of “when it’s done”, 3D Realms announced a release date of 2004 and then eventually 2005. By this time another engine switch had taken place as they began using the Quake III 3D engine. To put things into perspective for those that haven’t been paying attention, that’s two different Quake games in the time it has taken them to do nothing with Forever.

But then, recently, in 2007, a very short teaser trailer was released. It showed nothing other than Duke, and by this time interest in the game was flagging, not helped by a trailer showing no more than a character model. But for the die hards it provided some hope that they were still actually working on the game and not just playing World of Warcraft as they jokingly said.

Although they may as well spend all of their time doing that now. Yes, after all this time, all of those different engine changes and redundant screenshots and news, Duke Nukem Forever may actually be finis… ahem, cancelled. If you were to give it a tombstone it would read:

Duke Nukem Forever
April 28th 1997 - May 6th 2009
“Forever, we hardly knew ye”

Because on May 6th 2009, 3D Realms closed its doors. Could this spell the end of Forever? It certainly looks like it. Take-Two are still publishing it to our knowledge, but it’s highly unlikely they will take over development and finish it. Who knows? The project could be sold to another developer to churn it out in a few months, or it may just sink to the bottom of the river, never to be seen again. Either way, this has been a long twelve years. Development hell may as well be re-named Duke Nukem Forever.

At least we’ll always have those screenshots and videos to look back on, because that’s all we can take from this long, arduous process - providing no surprises await us at this years upcoming E3. It's a shame really, the gameplay footage shown after 3D Realms closure wasn't too shabby and it actually seemed like it was close to completion. You never know, though; they could have gone back to the drawing board and switched engines all over again. We should just be glad this is all over and Duke's adventure through time can finally end.