We don’t do a whole lot of gaming news (a few reviews every now and then, just for my own personal fun), but in this case, I’d like to make an exception. Iconic and legendary, Duke Nukem is going to really really really return to the main stage of gaming. Borderlands developer Gearbox has announced that Duke Nukem Forever will be released early next year, for both consoles and PC. A playable demo is now being trotted around PAX. Instant update: VIDEO! VIDEO!
This is no joke. No more empty promises. This is the real deal. The game will be shown over the coming days at the PAX conference in the United States, and Gearbox has a history of delivering, so this one is really coming out. The Duke lives. Again.
I think we’re all familiar with the story of the Duke. The first two instalments were 2D side-scrolling platformers, in the traditional Apogee style known from things like the Keen series and Monster Bash. The third instalment was the big hit; a first person shooter with an over-the-top macho and misogynistic style. Duke Nukem 3D was the epitome of everything the anti-gaming lobby hated about video games – it’s a big, satisfying slap in the face of those puritanical hypocrites.
Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1997, but became the poster child for vapourware. The lead developer of the project was a perfectionist, and every time someone came out with a hot new engine or game element, it just had to be part of Duke Nukem Forever. Eventually, after more than ten years of development, 3D Realms went bust, and Take Two Interactive took over the franchise.
And now, here we are, in glorious 2010, and the Duke is finally back where he belongs: the spotlight. Gearbox’ CEO Randy Pitchford announced Forever on stage at PAX. “This is a game you can’t make promises about,” Pitchford said, “Haven’t we not been teased enough? We don’t want to tease. We just thought we’d bring it to PAX.” A trailer. And, an actually playable demo.
“It’s coming in 2011. It’s coming in 2011,” Pitchford reiterated, “It’s absolutely going to come, and we will have it shipped. We brought you Borderlands last year. We know what we’re doing. It’s coming on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.”
Joystiq has an actual description of the demo, as well as photos, but no video at this point. “That’s my personal takeaway: this game works,” Christopher Grant writes, “It may not be the best game ever – who knows, I only played 15 minutes! – but it’s a game. And it works. And it doesn’t look, at least graphically, like it began production in 1997.”
“For now, this is enough,” he adds, “It’s more than enough. After 13 years in development, and then being pronounced dead, Gearbox has performed something of a miracle here. Pitchford and company didn’t just raise the dead, but they did so without most of those pesky zombie side effects. Duke Nukem is here and he’s alive.”
The beauty of the Duke is that he doesn’t have to set the gaming world aflame with innovation – 3D didn’t do that either – he just has to be the Duke. I can’t wait for Forever to come out.