It has been 15 years since the first "Duke Nukem" game exploded onto PC screens around the world, telling a generation of players "come get some" and kill everything on sight.
Calling the game inspired is a bit much but it certainly was groundbreaking. Booting up the original today, if you can get it to run at all, is hilarious in how bad the game is technically compared to those of today. That game we thought was impressive and cool more than a decade later is really not so good.
Fast forward now and finally coming soon is "Duke Nukem Forever", a game that has been mired in lawsuits and development issues that seem finally to be resolved. Already released are a new trailer and a demo of the new game, which should be released for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 next year.
Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1998, so it has taken a mere 13 years to get this bad boy out the door. (Maybe poor Duke is not pushing on castle walls like Wolfenstein this whole time?) It was supposed to be released in 2009 but its developer, 3D Realms, has had "issues" and has handed off the project. Now Gearbox Software has snapped it up and has set it for release early next year. (Gearbox President George Broussard put up a pic of pigs flying on his Twitter page.)
Whether the content will be up to Duke standards remains to be seen. The original franchise was savaged by some critics who didn't get the tongue-in-cheek attitude, and by parents who for some reason let an adult game get in the hands of teens or kids.
The developer has a tough choice on its hands, really much the same as the movie studios: tone it down and perhaps lose a bit of the Duke attitude and gain audience share or leave it untouched and get an "M" rating and find the game not sold in places like Wal-Mart.
The demo that has been shown thus far (on protected hardware at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle) shows Duke up to his old tricks, kicking butt, eyeing women and doing plenty of other things to aliens that will assure his "M" rating. The company also promises a multiplayer mode, which will allow you to connect to your friends and enemies all over the world, which is a great decision.
The downside of multiplayer PC gaming is, of course, cheaters, who are rampant in most games, and their actions have generally made multiplayer action "unfun." Most multiplayer gaming systems have implemented attempts to stop cheating with various levels of success but let's hope Duke has this one covered. If not, you may want to try multiplayer quick before the cheaters move in.
Pricing information and an exact release date have not been announced yet but you can plan on about 50 bucks and I would guess sometime in the first quarter, assuming pigs are indeed flying over at Gearbox. You can get more information on the title at www.dukenukem.com.
James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm, and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org