Duke Nukem Forever Hands-On Impressions

You read that right. The video game equivalent of the walking dead is playable here at PAX 2010.

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We'll spare you any history lessons on Duke Nukem Forever. If you follow video games at all, you likely know the long, rocky, infamous--and did we say long?--history behind this first-person shooter. All you need to know is that it's actually playable here at PAX 2010. Granted, as you'd expect, there's quite a line to see it. But if there was ever a game where a lengthy queue was appropriate, it's this one. CEO of Gearbox Randy Pitchford certainly knows. "I heard the line outside was 13 years long," Pitchford joked while giving a presentation on how new developer Gearbox picked up the project after 3D Realms collapsed last year.

To give a quick summary, Pitchford described his personal attachment to the franchise (Duke Nukem 3D was the first game he worked on before forming his own studio) as well as the reason publisher 2K Games trusted Gearbox to salvage the project ("we brought them a megahit with Borderlands"). But it was a quick introduction, followed by a new trailer and the opportunity for everyone there to get some hands-on time with a couple of different levels.

The trailer was Duke at his ridiculous best, punching giant aliens below the belt, spouting one-liners, and taking more than a few self-referential jabs at himself. After that, it was time to play the game. The demo started off simply enough: You're standing in front of a urinal in a men's room with the screen politely directing you to pull the right trigger to begin urinating. This opening scene sets the table rather appropriately for a brief but utterly absurd demo. A few seconds later, you walk up to some EDF forces in a locker room drawing plans to deal with the current alien invasion on a whiteboard. One soldier--the only one left standing amid a number of mangled survivors--invites you to offer your advice, and after a little first-person whiteboard scribbling by the player, that soldier remarks something to the effect of, "That's a great plan! If we had done that, that guy over there would still have his arm!”"Pause. "And at least one of his balls."

Duke, being a man of action, quickly runs through the tunnels of this football stadium--it turns out that's where the demo starts--and out onto the field. Standing on the 50-yard line is a giant one-eyed alien monster called the Cycloid. Fortunately, Duke has just picked up a rocket launcher called the Devastator. Using this handy little weapon, you run all over the rain-soaked field dodging the boss's attacks while occasionally firing rockets at his single, solitary eye. After a couple of minutes, the beast is felled, and Duke celebrates by ripping out his eye and kicking a field goal with it.

After this, the game's first level, we were quickly transported to the 15th level. This one begins in some arid canyons with Duke cruising along in his signature monster truck. The controls are simple: just pull the right trigger to accelerate and hit the B button to handbrake around a corner. This sequence seemed like a bit of a palate cleanser, as there wasn't a whole lot of challenge--just cruise along, look cool, and splatter the occasional pig alien too stupid to get out of your way. But you run out of gas before arriving at a small canyon village and have to do on-foot battle against a bunch of ugly aliens.

To help even the odds, the game scatters a few useful guns around the little town. There's the railgun, which comes in handy for remote sniping; the shrink ray, which turns your enemies into tiny things that are almost too adorable to kill; and a turret gun for dealing with a landing enemy spaceship. Unfortunately, we weren't able to progress past said spaceship before the allotted demo time was over. But we'll go ahead and assume there were aliens, guns, and one-liners to be found after a successful completion. Call it a hunch.

If there's one thing that surprised us about the demo, it's this: Duke Nukem Forever is pretty darn fun for a game with such a tumultuous development. The comic timing was impressive, the guns felt satisfying, and the graphics were quite pleasing to look at. Of course, this is a Duke Nukem game through and through, so there are some inherent elements to it that will instantly turn some people off. But pick up a controller, spend a few minutes with it, and you'll be surprised at how well it has turned out. Whether the rest of the game can follow suit is something we're eager to see. Stay tuned for more.

Discussion

556 comments
markko84
markko84

talk about a change of opinion, huh...

cheesy10
cheesy10

Gamespot preview before release: "Duke Nukem Forever is pretty darn fun for a game with such a tumultuous development." Gamespot review after release: "Duke Nukem Forever isn't just boring; sometimes, it's plain awful... it certainly isn't about fun." Why such a discrepancy?

bodigalhun
bodigalhun

at last long waited game is coming. can't wait

Jaguar_Shade
Jaguar_Shade

So after a 13 year wait for this PC game the demo for pax 2010 is on an xbox 360? :( Oh gaming, how low you've sunk.

ilia4kata
ilia4kata

You're an inspiration for birth control

gamerboy100
gamerboy100

Oh, and I should add that I look forward to seeing this game in action.

gamerboy100
gamerboy100

Next time a game gets delayed for an extended period, does this mean we can call it pulling a Duke Nukem?

Yams1980
Yams1980

'those alien bastards are gonna pay for messing up my ride'

SergioCarr
SergioCarr

damn!! i'm looking good !! ... I hope there'll be some mirrows around :P

Altair_CQC
Altair_CQC

Remember playing this game for PC,back in the days , i'm glad they've decided to bring it back.Definitely a game to look forward to and keep eyes on.

BobTrivioni
BobTrivioni

@Hawk0323: "It's time to kick @ss and chew bubble gum...and I'm all out of gum!" Did you know that actually came from a movie by John Carpenter called they Live, quoted by Roddy Piper, playing the role of George Nada. But with a little variation, they said, "I have come here to chew bubblegum, and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubblegum." @anthonettex: I am going to go out on a limb to give you a benefit of a doubt. Do you have all those ? marks after each game cause you are not sure if those fall under the FPS category? If this is the case, please note, what you see in the real world, that is a 1st person perspective. If there was some dude that follows you really close, every where you go, that would be a 3rd person perspective. FPS = First Person Shooter. This means in the view of the character you are playing. So if you see the characters entire body, you are not in 1st person perspective. As for the Duke, I would have to say, I have my doubts. I loved the 1st one, but something tells me this would be what I would like to call a Flushdrag.

danaketh
danaketh

@2nude4u ...or another fail as always :)

2nude4u
2nude4u

The greatest FPS of all time?........

ele975
ele975

@anthonettex How do you think GoW is even FPS? Do you even know what FPS stands for? ;p stands for First Person Shooter ;)

jw430
jw430

@anthonettex Some of the games you listed are not even FPS

lindallison
lindallison

@anthonettex Crysis is the only FPS in your list.

anthonettex
anthonettex

Too bad so many good FPS games have come by. Crysis? Just cause 2? GTA? God of War? Uncharted 2? They'll have to make this extra special so it must be worthwhile if they have to confidence to pick up this classic title.

Jinjuri
Jinjuri

it kinda looks like fallout 3/fallout new vegas

Cocoloto
Cocoloto

Is like the old duke nukem games.

Majorkilljoy
Majorkilljoy

same it should be good to with it being on a better console

jeditay34
jeditay34

i hope that it will be great, feeling that it will be a middle of the road FPS.

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

wait....fighting that giant one-eyed thing on the football field and kicking its eye through the goal? Is this just the old Duke 3D with pretty graphics? a simple remake?! YOU BETTER NOT!!

Clive-Owen
Clive-Owen

Duke Nukem hasnt actually been in dev for 13 years when tens of generations (graphically, technically, etc.) have passed,

Hawk0323
Hawk0323

"Its time to kick @ss and chew bubble gum...and i'm all out of gum!" Haha...used to play this game all the time when I was a kid. Might just have to try this out.

jernas
jernas

@BlindBeggar Stalker was a surprisingly good game when it was released. One of the best in 2007. But I agree that DNF so far doesn't look much more than a generic console shooter. Lets just hope for the best.

Tarmac_Hunter
Tarmac_Hunter

Why are all the DNF stories tagged as XB360 stories? The title has been the ultimate PC vaporware for well over a decade and is just now getting ported to the consoles... not the other way around (for once.)

Rattlesnake_8
Rattlesnake_8

Hope it turns out to be good.. id settle for a remake of Duke3D.

HarassMe
HarassMe

@BlindBeggar - Stalker doesnt have anywhere NEAR the legacy that Duke Nukem does. Most people don't even realize that it started off as a platform adventure type game, many many years ago.

BlindBeggar
BlindBeggar

Too many shiny and boring clones these days... I'm not excited at all. Remember STALKER, in the end mediocre game. It could be a good game, nothing more.

robertt
robertt

Can't wait man Can't wait man Can't wait man Can't wait to down some brews, and hear the Duke say "Aahhh, much better" :-)

glassesboy
glassesboy

Don't know yet if I should get excited about this. 13 Years in the making is a little too much =) Well eitherway, I'm looking forward to seeing from this.

dcboy36
dcboy36

I really hope this doesnt get postponed.

rossmanW
rossmanW

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Hazzerz
Hazzerz

I'm still having trouble accepting this. I can't believe it's actually coming.

Psycold
Psycold

Jesus, I've been waiting for this friggin game since like 1996

mne635
mne635

i prefered zero punctuations review tbh

Mekkino
Mekkino

talk about duke nukem FOREVER!!!

IpwnGandalf
IpwnGandalf

Its about time. Battlefield 1943 for PC is becoming the next DNF.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

I knew it. I KNEW it. I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've always stood behind this game. I always knew it would come out and be fantastic. And after seeing those trailers a couple years ago, it was obvious that'd be loads of fun. I stand with Duke. This game is going to rock.

ThumperBN
ThumperBN

Wow! So this is why clowns cry...

joksterz78
joksterz78

gonna flop like Metroid M. 13 years waiting for rubbish.

Kastigador
Kastigador

Wow, 13 years in the making and Gear Box looks like its gonna deliver a finished product within a year. Gives you an idea just how f'd up 3D Realms was. Ars Technica: "Do you know how you can tell that a game is going to be something special? When its demo ends with the main character getting his d*ck sucked by twins, then admits that his game better be good because it "took twelve f*cking years" to make."

Atheno
Atheno

@Clive-Owen Oh I see.

Itsleaking
Itsleaking

Looks cool but there's no way it'll make it out to Australia...