Friday, October 22, 2010

Duke Nukem Forever Hands-On

I knew it was going to be good, but the Duke Nukem Forever demo (short as it was) had me nearly falling out of my chair laughing at the in-jokes and wild Duke humor while feeling immediately comforted that the King is soon to be back on top where he belongs (Er, take that any way you wish). 2K rolled into NYC with the infamous PAX demo in tow and since I didn't get me ass to Boston this year, you'd better believe I made time for The Man Himself as soon as the invite landed in my inbox. I wasn't at all disappointed, by the way. In fact, if the demo is any indication of the final build, the King is Back... Long Live The King, Baby!

From starting things off with Duke relieving himself in a locker room urinal to the hilarious end sequence that had him giving the finger to a ship full of alien bastards after taking a hit, the demo had me cracking up nearly non-stop. Controls were fluid and spot on, which definitely helped against the rather cheap Cyclops boss in a battle that took place on a rainy football field. Paying attention while shooting and avoiding death blasts was key, as Duke's gun only held 69 shots (har har) and more ammo was supplied via airdrop to a remote part of the field. Well, remote if you happened to be on the opposite end of the field. Once the big brute was down to a sliver of life, a bit of button-pressing mini-game action was needed to polish off the boss once and for all. Afterward, another button press booted the boss' big eyeball for a field goal before the game switched to a rather naughty cut scene that proved once and for all, this one NOT for the kiddies. Let's just say Duke likes his twins and leave it at that.

The next section was set in a canyon and mine, kicking off with a brief driving sequence where Duke blasted around in a monster truck hitting aliens and avoiding huge boulders. Running out of gas (too soon for my tastes, but whatever!), Duke ended up having to hoof it the rest of the stage and yes, there were aliens aplenty to put down. One concession to modern shooters was quickly apparent: Duke can only carry two main weapons, which means you'll need to be pretty proficient with what you pick up. Of course, favorites such as pipe bombs, the Shrink Ray (well-hidden in the demo) and others were in the build, some of which could be pulled from the cold dead hands of the alien bastards toting them. For an early build, the AI is turning out to be formidable in that you'll be shot at from a few different ranges by numerous aliens, as they close in and try to do you in. Well-placed exploding barrels in this part of the demo helped make short work of some faraway enemies, while shooting, or shrinking and stomping others worked equally as well.

Given that a number of Gearbox staff has close ties to Duke Nukem from the beginning, seeing the payoff was worth the trip downtown. Everything from the interactive elements, the familiar color palette and general chaotic scale all clicked the proper memory circuits for me. All the Internet whining in the world from the ill-informed just shows how we need more folks who KNOW game history, not knee-jerk their dopey opinions around until they fall off their soapboxes once their heads get too filled with ego gas. Early build or not, this one's going to be HUGE. I'd have to say that based on the demo, ANY worries some of you may have about the game being a shadow of the old Duke or some sort of lousy "reboot" will be crushed once you get a taste of the game... but don't ask me when that will be. Mum's the word on a playable demo, but I'm sure 2K and Gearbox have figured out just how and when the general public (well, those of age, that is) will get a taste of the pie they're baking.

Yeah, yeah, multiplayer modes will be announced down the road, but I'll be all over the single player mode over and over until I find every secret and scour every inch of every level. Amusingly enough, after I got home from the event, I ended up digging up my old copy of Duke Nukem 3D and had no luck getting it to run on XP (damn you, automatic Windows updates!) even with DOSBOX (grrrr). Ah well, i still have Total Meltdown on the PlayStation, Lobotomy's excellent Sega Saturn port and a few other Dukes to keep me busy reminiscing until 2K decides to return to the big city with an updated build. 2011 is certainly going to be a crazy year for shooters of all stripes, but it just may be Duke Nukem that makes one of the biggest impacts with Gearbox at the helm. Back with more Duke updates as they come in... stay tuned.

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