Duke Nukem Whenever
If our suspicions are correct, you'll almost certainly be able to rip through the game fairly quickly when it comes out, but what'll make you pause and take your time will be the desire to find all the hidden secrets and mini-games.
Likewise, you probably could tear through using shotguns and rifles, but you’ll be too busy experimenting with the more exotic guns like the returning shrink ray, freeze gun and the eternally distracting Holo Duke. We were itching to see if there were any less obvious ways of dealing grim death to the pig cops and octobrains who showed up.
There are a few changes that will perhaps surprise some old timers. Now, Duke can only carry two major weapons at a time, with pipe bombs and other small devices being counted as sundries. It's a compromise to the modern day mentality and, while bluff old coves might dismiss the idea with a snort, it does provide a tactical element to the otherwise straightforward gunplay. Which do you want more, the twin-rocket firing devastator or the old, reliable shotgun?
Dear Gearbox: We would like some new screenshots please
There are also a few vehicle sections that show up too, though they felt worryingly tacked on and weak. Even at these weak points there’s the shining light of Duke’s old charm though. In the pre-hands-on trailer we got a quick glimpse of a scene where Duke shrinks himself to fit into a remote-controlled car. The handling looks a little floaty, but this is an early-ish built (in some senses), so we’ll cut it a little slack.
The selection of levels in the demo could have been better too. The stadium sequence was best in the ten seconds before we figured out that winning only required circle-strafing around the boss and the piling of rockets into his toughened shell.
The second level was a straightforward vehicular bit followed by more straightforward shooting. It felt a bit uninspired and, we hope, will be one of the least exciting levels featured in the final game. It smacked a little of giving as little away as possible about the real meat of the game. Shooting pig cops in the face with a shotgun is still as satisfying as ever, though.
Really; new screenshots. Please.
Really though, Duke Nukem Forever is almost exactly what you'd imagine a new Duke Nukem game to be, almost down to the letter. That’s a little disappointing in some senses, but really you have to query whether there was ever anything more than that on the cards. There were never going to be any philosophical dilemmas or complex branching storylines putting your morality on the line. Anyone hoping for stuff like that has let expectation get away with them.
No, Duke Nukem Forever was always going to be about saving women, booting alien heads between goal posts and all sorts of crude-yet-effective toilet humour – and on that front Gearbox looks set to deliver in spades. It just remains to be seen whether audience tastes have changed or not, as Duke Nukem Forever does run the risk of feeling like a relic from a bygone era. That’s what happens when you take a decade to make something.
Those are thoughts for another day though. For now we're happy just revelling in the feeling of having played it at all.
Duke Nukem Forever is being developed by Gearbox Software and 3D Realms. It will be published next year on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by 2K Games.