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Duke Nukem Forever, And the Resurgence of the "Fun" Shooter

Previews - Multi Platform

Written by Jayce Diaz
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At PAX East this past weekend, I got my first taste of Duke Nukem Forever. The game, which has spent over a decade in development, had lines spanning completely around its large, throne-centered booth. Once I got going, I noticed something I hadn't really given much thought to before regarding the game. It wasn't the surprisingly good graphics or the smooth controls; It was just how much fun the game was.

Remember fun? FPS games in particular have totally forgotten it. Apparently, you can't have fun and be realistic at the same time. So as time went on, the likes of Medal of Honor and Call of Duty went and replaced fun with "gritty" realism and Kill-Death ratios. Stats. Fun was killed with stats.

Maybe it was because Duke Nukem was too busy to save the day. But he's here now, and he is bringing the fun.

Duke has always been crass. This is no surprise to anyone. The fact that he can pull solid waste out of a toilet and draw dicks on a whiteboard isn't out of his realm. Also, the bad language and sexual inuendos, while hilarious, aren't what holds this game together. Simply put, Duke Nukem Forever is fun and refreshing because it's ideas haven't been seen or used on other games since 1997. Gearbox has gone to great lengths to assure that this game is the same vision that 3D Realms had when it first began development all those years ago. Back when this game was first concieved, you could say that there were plenty of games like it that shared the same spirit. Since then, however, FPS games have changed completely, relying on would-be military squads and a stiffening sense of reality as building blocks for their franchise.

To quote a much-overused line from the Dark Knight, "Why so serious?"

The entertainment value in this title goes far beyond humor. Duke plays well, but it's the ideas behind the gameplay that really make it unique. When was the last time you saw a shrink ray gun in a first-person shooter? Really? Well, it's in Duke Nukem. You'll also find your more standard fare of weaponry, from shotguns to automatics, and my personal favorite, the good old pistol. All the classic Duke guns are there, too. If you were a fan back then, odds are you'll be right at home now. It seems like the big question behind every design choice in Duke is "Will the player think this is fun/cool?" The result is an entertaining, not always realistic experience that keeps the emotion short and the ass-kicking hard.

Speaking of hard, this is another blast from the past that I didn't expect; Duke Nukem Forever is one challenging title. Current-gen FPS games have gone much too soft on us. DNF, however, is having none of that. Much like it's old-school mentality would have you believe, this game will beat you down, and you'll love every second of it. During my play time, I must have died at least five times in the same area, and it didn't irritate me at all. I was having too much fun going through it all to care.

After playing DNF for a decent amount of time, I got the chance to have a talk with Adam Fletcher to discuss a few things with the title. Here's that interview below.

Duke Nukem is scheduled for releas on May 3rd in the US (May 6 worldwide), about 13 years after initial production work began.

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