It is hard to believe it has been over a decade of waiting, and even more amazing to know that there are only two months left. At PAX East, I finally got my chance to play Duke Nukem Forever and, needless to say, it felt surreal. When a game has been this long in development, you begin to think it really doesn’t exist. Even after swapping my inverted controls and moving the fabled action star around, it didn’t feel real. After a while, though, it sank in; Duke is back, whether you like it or not.
The demo we were given is the same one we have been seeing videos and screens of since the game was officially unveiled last year. You start off in a stadium where you can toy around with the whiteboard, draw some inappropriate phalluses and move on to a major encounter with a Cyclops on a rainy football field. In typical Duke fashion, plenty of one-liners and crude gestures were traded and, afterwards, we kicked his eyeball through the goal posts.
After defeating the towering menace, the camera pans back to show Duke was actually playing his own game while being “serviced” by two young ladies. This is the Duke we all know and love, and the comment he makes about how long the game has been in development shows that Gearbox has a sense of humor about the title.
Fast forward to the next area and we get a chance to check out the vehicles. Right trigger is gas, B button is power brake and running over enemies refills your ego gauge. Interestingly enough, this is the way health works in the game. For every “cool” move you perform, such as killing enemies or looking at your buff muscles in the mirror, refills the gauge. Failing to perform these moves before the enemies have their way with your health bar, and it is game over. While unique, this mode may not go over well for some players but, thankfully, there is an easy mode for those just wanting the experience.
I noted that the age of the demo shows. The frame rate was terrible at times and some of the textures and environments felt incomplete. I am hoping this is simply something Gearbox threw together to show off that the game was actually releasing. I have the utmost faith the issues will be ironed out before release.
Even with these blemishes, the game is what it is. Duke fans are in for a treat with the quintessential banter from our favorite egomaniacal action star, and FPS fans should enjoy the plethora of weapons and crazy enemy encounters. No word on multi-player yet, but I am hoping for some truly clever stuff from the boys at Gearbox. It’s hard to believe Duke is finally landing on store shelves in less than two months, and even more amazing that I actually got to play it. Believe. It is real!