Monday, September 13, 2010

Duke Nukem Forever, Yup It's Real

So another year and still no Duke Nukem Forev...........wait, what?  It's snowing in hell?!?!?

Yup, Duke is back and this time it's not anyone from 3D Realms promising it will be coming out "when it's ready."  No this time it's none other than Randy Pitchford, the CEO of Gearbox Software himself. I sat there in the Duke Nukem Forever booth and listened to Mr. Pitchford himself say that not only do they have the rights to put out the game that easily holds the record for "longest in development" (round about 14 years at this point) but that they have a working copy that anyone that attended PAX10 (and stood in line for hours) could play.

So why was Gearbox, out all the developers out there, picked?  Well first off Take Two owns the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever, so they aren't going to hand it off to just any dev out there, they wanted to go with a reliable company and they just had a huge first-person shooter hit come from Gearbox--Borderlands.

Second, Gearbox was outed in court documents last year as the developer working on a game called "Duke Begins," a game that was to be an origins of sort.  That game was part of a $2.5 million dollar advance deal between Take Two and 3D Realms.

Third, Randy Pitchford not only used to work for 3D Realms and worked on Duke Nukem 3D, but he also was there when they first started working on Duke Nukem Forever before leaving to form his own dev studio Gearbox Software.  Randy is still friends with George Broussard and talked long and hard about this and agreed that Randy and Gearbox would be the best fit for Duke Nukem.

Randy Pitchford and I.
And finally fourth, Gearbox knows first-person shooters.  Gearbox has a long history of delivering good games.  Starting with Half-Life: Opposing Force, through the Brothers in Arms series, up to their most recent hit, Borderlands.

So I hear you, "That's all nice and fine, but WHAT ABOUT THE GAME?!?!?!?!?!"

Well it's typical Duke.

What they had at PAX was two playable levels.  You start in the bathroom, specifically you start by having Duke pee in a urinal.  Whenever you've had enough of that you can then move on.  You move out into a locker room where some heavy duty troops are going over a plan called "Operation Cock Block."  After most of them leave the room the one that is left asks what you think of the plan.  At this point you can draw and write on the whiteboard they outlined the plan on.  When you are done playing with that you can move out through the hallways.

As you walk though, explosions block various exits, eventually you wind your way though to a football field.  The scene that plays out should be familiar to Duke fans.  Duke takes on a rather large alien in a recreation of one of the boss battles from Duke Nukem 3D, only this time it's done in present day graphical quality.  It's raining and everything is wet.  At one point I got too close to the alien and it hit me and sent me flying.  When I landed I slid to stop and got back up on my feet.  After sending more bullets than a small army carries around at the creature it finally dies.  Then game then prompts me to kick a field goal with the alien's eye.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend, FINALLY!
After that the "Duke Nukem Forever" logo comes up and the camera pans back to show in the first person view that Duke is playing the game with a custom controller that has the face button replaced with "D" "U" "K" and "E."

You then hear a woman's voice say, "But how was the game Duke?"  To which Duke replies, "After 12 fucking years it better be good."  After that two women's heads pop up from behind the controller and they stand as one wipes her mouth.  Like I said, typical Duke.

The next level started with you driving a Duke Nukem monster truck through a desert valley, dodging falling rocks and blasts from alien ships.  Eventually the truck runs out of gas and you are on foot in the usual first person shooter again.  One of the first weapons I pick up is the rail gun.  It's very nice with it's zoom in scope and pretty much a one shot one kill.  Eventually I find the shrink ray and the fun of shrinking aliens and squashing them under Duke's powerful boot starts all over again.

I didn't get to finish the level because our time was up and they shooed us all out.

I enjoyed it and I am looking forward to it.  The game is in very capable hands.  Not only that but Gearbox hired on folks that were laid off last year from 3D Realms to work on the game; come to find out they were still working on it in secret in their homes.  Another surprising announcement that happened on the last day of PAX was that Gearbox has also bought all the rights to Duke Nukem and are already planning future games.  Those future games include Alan Blum, creator of Duke, who has also been hired by Gearbox.

So the future of Duke Nukem seems to be pretty rosy at the moment.  A new home, a playable demo and a release date of 2011.  I really can't wait, after this taste I want more.  So glad to see it finally all coming together.

Hey look, booth babes at the Duke Nukem booth, who would have thought?

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