by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
Developments in the Nukem-verse
The feel of the universe in general is also oozing with the classic Nukem feel. Duke Nukem 3D is great, but it merely gave us a small tease of Duke’s world and who he was in it. Forever is taking the next step, and really fleshing things out. We can see what Duke has become to the world, living in the penthouse of his very own casino with a direct link to the president. We can see posters all over the city showing what Duke has been up to since we last saw him. There are statues standing tall, freezing moments from Duke Nukem 3D in stone forever. All of these touches are great because they at the same time expand beyond what we’ve seen, yet fit perfectly into the universe we’ve come to know and love.
There are also nods to the little interactive mini games of titles past. This is being expanded upon in Forever, including mini games such as pinball, basketball, the aforementioned weight lifting many many more. Taking a break from blasting huge alien pig people to watch a flick on Duke’s TV may add nothing in terms of raw gameplay (except filling your ego-bar), but it does succeed in reminding you just how lovable and wild of a world you’re in.
The other side to this coin is that, at least in the footage released thus far, the gameplay can sometimes be a bit too disconnected from modern conventions. Sure, some trends of modern games get annoying after awhile. However, some developments really are for the better. It appears that Duke Nukem Forever’s main style of gunplay will be “enter a room, run and shoot everyone, enter next area, run and shoot everyone again.” This fits with the game’s light-hearted tone, but I fear that the fights may become repetitive without many tactical options that other modern games enjoy.
Secondly, and more surprising in my opinion, is that the Duke Nukem team has made a conscious decision to stray away from the large set pieces that are prominent in AAA titles such as Call of Duty, God of War and countless others. Personally, it seems to me that Duke Nukem and huge set pieces go together like peanut butter and jelly. A character as ludicrous and over the top as Duke, with weapons ranging from your run-of-the-mill shotgun and pistol to the Freezethrower and Duke’s Mighty (size 13) Foot, needs enemies and events that are just as large as he is. In a game featuring a protagonist who’s here to “kick ass and chew bubble gum” (yet who’s gum reserves are generally depleted), there should be towering enemies, buildings being blown up whole planets being vaporized. Hopefully the talented folks over at Gearbox can find a way to keep the scale massive without the help of set pieces.
Nuke them online
Duke Nukem will also feature online multiplayer (being developed by the Canadian-based Piranha), but there has been very little information revealed about it beyond the fact that it exists. The lack of information, according to Gearbox, is because multiplayer is something that needs to be “felt”, and cannot be completely understood or appreciated by simple screenshots. What this means exactly is a mystery. Is it just an excuse to build the hype? Does it mean Duke Nukem Forever will have some sort of new and fantastical multiplayer experience? We can’t know for sure, but I can’t wait to find out.
Let the nukes fall
Duke Nukem Forever has a monumental task ahead of it: it must at the same time deliver on its promise of keeping the tone and style that its franchise was built on, while simultaneously being a great game on its own accord. Many of us that played the older Duke titles will have no problem understanding the nods Forever will be making to its past, but many of today’s younger gamers may not understand these references. Gearbox must make the game self-centred enough to retain tradition, but not so self-centred that it looses a whole section of its audience that may be hopping on the Duke train for the very first time. There’s still a lot we haven’t seen with Duke Nukem Forever, but if what we know so far is any indication we’re all going to be in for a very wild ride.