But many people won’t give a toss. Why should they care about a sequel to a game that was already dated when it was released? A game twelve years late? Every single Valve game and all three Playstations have been released since Forever was announced. So, why should you care about Duke Nukem Forever?
1. Always Bet On Duke
The gaming world needs Duke Nukem. What many non-fans of either Duke Nukem 3D or irony don’t seem to realize is that the Duke is a satirical character. He was designed to be a big, macho, heavily-muscled ass-kicking wise-cracker that took the piss out of every 80s action movie star ever. He’s the videogaming equivalent of Rainier Wolfcastle.
And we need someone that ridiculous now, as gaming seems to be in its own 80s period. I’ve lost count of all the butch tough-talking moody soldiers with more muscles than the Michelin Man I’ve seen (and there are quite a few in games too). They need to be ripped on mercilessly. Duke can do that. He’s also a tremendously fun character to play, especially knowing that nothing about him or his games are meant to be taken seriously. See point 4.
2. Duke Nukem 3D still hasn’t been truly beaten
Now those of you who haven’t properly played Duke Nukem 3D might not realize this, but those who have been desperate for the sequel for over a decade understand one simple fact: Duke 3D is the single most unique and awesome FPS ever made. What it did no game has successfully entirely recreated since 1996.
Realistic, believable city environments with tons of interactivity mixed in with weird outer space alien environments. A massive sense of fun. Over-the-top action with ridiculous and hilarious weaponry. Great enemies to fight. Many jabs at other games including superb Easter Eggs that require constant replays (the Enterprise bridge and “the real ready room” is my favourite). A wise-cracking hero. Plenty of fun and useful items that you can use any time you want, including a Jetpack.
The only game I can think of that almost hits all of these points is Monolith’s Blood II: The Chosen, and that didn’t have a jetpack, wasn’t quite as good and came out 12 years ago. Interactivity is the hard part – you can’t even open a goddamned door in Call of Duty, yet you can play a passable game of pool, admire yourself in the mirror, piss in a urinal and pay a stripper in Duke 3D. Now let’s elaborate on some of this greatness…
3. Superb Weapons
Shrinker: shrinks an enemy to the size of a mouse, at which point Duke squishes him under his boot. Expander: they expand until they explode in a shower of gore. Laser Trip Mines: very explosive. Freezethrower: freeze your enemies and then shatter them with a well-placed boot. Boot: why hit them with your gun when you can kick them in the face? I’m sure we’ll see some even stranger weapons in Forever, but these are fine already.
Remember that in your first-person shooters? Fortunately Bulletstorm looks like it will drag the genre back into the wise-cracking extreme gameplay (and it’s about time). We’ve also had Serious Sam and Painkiller, but on the whole the genre’s gone all grim and humourless.
Bulletstorm’s a good start, but we need Duke Nukem to literally rip off an enemy’s head and take a shit down its neck now and again.
5. “After 12 years, it had better be fucking good.”
They’ve got 12 years worth of material to build off of. More specifically, they’ve got 12 years of absolutely anal detail to play with. That’s the big problem with many games: in order to get the game finished and out the door they’ve got to leave out all the little things that stick in the memory. Would Batman: Arkham Asylum be loved so much if it didn’t contain all those hidden secrets and references to Batman lore? Would Duke Nukem 3D be remembered so fondly if it didn’t have loads of Easter Eggs?
It’s always the little details that stick in the memory, the things that make the game stand out from the pack and get talked about. Trouble is these days they’re the first things that get axed when development time is tight. With 12 years of time though, I’m expecting lots of secrets to find that’ll keep me coming back years later. See the Warden’s Secret Room in Arkham Asylum.
6. Randy Pitchford Helped Make Duke 3D
Yep. Small point, but it raised my enthusiasm for Gearbox making it when I found out – their head, Randy Pitchford, was a level designer on Duke Nukem 3D. He then left to found Gearbox, which then made the excellent Half-Life expansion Opposing Force…
7. Gearbox know their fun
… and later, Borderlands. They know it’s a good time to get back to the ridiculousness and extreme insanity we’ve been missing from the FPS genre. That time is now. Death to straight-faced miserable shooters! Gears of War is first against the wall!
8. Every time it’s shown off, the crowd goes wild
Whether it’s a trailer, demo, or even a single screenshot, the amount of coverage and posts everywhere is just incredible. You just can’t escape it. People will be talking and giving their opinions about Duke Nukem Forever, whether to mock it or love it. So consequently…
9. Everyone’s going to be playing it
Well, you are, even if it’s just for curiosity or to bitch about how it wasn’t worth a 15 year wait.