You may have raised an entire family in the time that it’s taken Duke Nukem Forever to reach near-completion, but Duke hasn’t become family friendly by any stretch of imagination. Duke’s words speak louder than most people’s actions, and his actions speak louder than some Vuvuzelas. We’re talking about a man whose idea of banter with his foes involves tearing off their heads and s***ing down their necks. And he’s had more than a decade to put his razor-sharp tongue to the grindstone.
The result? Well, strippers are a lock, of course, which means gratuitous nudity can’t be far behind. Then there’s the violence, which includes Duke’s disturbingly gleeful willingness to resort to genital mutilation against his alien foes. And then there’s that whole bit with the two, erm, ladies of the night where… things are heavily implied.
Gearbox, at the very least, harbors no delusions that Duke’s larger-than-life legacy will get him a free approval stamp from the ESRB. Speaking during a recent London press event, Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford acknowledged that the ESRB will "not exactly be approving of this." And the big, Duke’s boot-shaped kicker? We’ve been told by Gearbox that what we’ve been shown so far is the “tame” stuff.
That sound you’re hearing? That’s the M-rating. It’s sobbing. Why? Because Duke Nukem wakes up every morning and has 100 Mafia IIs for breakfast. Granted, we do have to worry a bit here. After all, if Duke Nukem gets dipped in glue and dropped in a bucket of sensor bars and strategically placed blurs, what happens to his appeal? Duke Nukem is offensive on purpose. It’s what he does. It’s why he makes us laugh. A compromised Duke Nukem, then, might as well not be Duke Nukem at all.
Are you a rabid Borderlands fan who’s seen it all? Ned, Zed, Scags, Rakks, so many guys who want their “pound of flesh” that you feel like a small, locally owned deli – the whole nine yards? Well then, you have a very difficult decision to make.
See, Borderlands Game of the Year Edition won’t throw any curveballs your way. It’s the entirety of Borderlands and all its DLC in one spiffy package. Problem is, it holds that “small child buying a box of nasty sugared cereal appeal”; buy the game and you get a neat prize.
“This package will come complete with the entire extravasplosive Borderlands catalog and a free membership certificate for the Duke Nukem Forever First Access Club. This certificate entitles owners who register their unique key to a wealth of goodies, including early access to a sneak peek of the legendary, long-awaited video game - Duke Nukem Forever,” read a press release from Gearbox.
Granted, we still have no idea when the first Duke Nukem Forever demo’s gonna spit out its gum and start kicking ass, but this club will ensure you’ll be among the first to play it. The Borderlands Game of The Year Edition will run you $49.99 – a fantastic deal if you’ve never played Borderlands or its DLC. If you have, though? Well, you’ve waited more than a decade, right? What’s – in all likelihood – an extra week or two?
Worried that Duke Nukem Forever will come out, and then Duke Nukem Foreverer will launch just as the sun collapses and devours the earth and all that you hold dear? Well, no worries there, since 3D Realms has relinquished its Duke Nukem privileges. (Also, happily, you’ll be long dead before the sun ever goes Pac-Man on our humble little power planet, so hooray for that too!) From this point forward, Borderlands developer Gearbox will be handling all things Nukem – not just Forever.
“Fifteen years ago, Duke Nukem 3D helped launch my professional video game development career,” said Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford. “The Gearbox Software team and I are ecstatic that we have grown to a position to be able to pick up and carry the torch and help Duke rise back to glory in his time of need. Fans of the legendary hero and all the incredible talent that have ever helped him all deserve the very best support that we can bring.”
So, everyone wins, right? Well, mostly everyone. Surely 3D Realms co-founder George Broussard – the man who pumped mountains of his own money into Forever – can’t be entirely thrilled that someone else is signing their name on his handiwork. Well, shows what we know, because he also thinks the franchise is in good hands.
“Gearbox was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand. Their vision for its future direction is exciting and unbelievable. I personally cannot wait for fans to see their unique take on the franchise. This will be a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially the fans,” Broussard said in a press release.
What’s this odd sensation? Is it… optimism? For Duke Nukem? The thick layer of ice that once coated our cold hearts has finally melted, it would seem. The reason? Hope, perhaps. Or maybe global warming. We really hope it’s that first thing, though.
There are some things that just make you stop and wonder: “Is this the beginning of the end?” Things like global warming, widespread war and poverty, and – of course – the mystifying popularity of Twilight. And then there are things that make you quit your job and spend all your money on a tour of the world's greatest steakhouses, because – damn it all – the four horsemen of the apocalypse are banging down your door right now. Thing numero uno? Duke Nukem Forever's rapidly approaching release date.
Yep, you read that correctly. Duke Nukem Forever's landing on shelves this time. For real. The reason? Gearbox Software – they of Borderlands and Brothers in Arms fame – have started cracking the whip on Duke's notoriously meandering development cycle, and they're making sure the game finally waltzes out the door in time for a 2011 release.
"It's coming in 2011. It's coming in 2011. It's absolutely going to come, and we will have it shipped. We brought you Borderlands last year. We know what we're doing. It's coming on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and Windows PC," said Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford during the big unveiling.
But this is Duke Nukem Forever we're talking about. What reason do you have to believe there's not just another 12 year delay waiting around the corner to ambush you the second you get your hopes up? Well, the game's playable at the Penny Arcade Expo, for one. Right now. Look! Here are some videos! You can watch (or read about) Duke Nukem taking a nice, relieving pee this very moment. Let it soothe your fears just as it soothes him.
Ewww. That was a pretty weird sentence. Good thing the apocalypse is happening any day now, or we'd probably never live it down. And on that note, we're making our exit. We've got steakhouses to tour, after all.
Yep, another Duke Nukem Forever story. But this time around, Duke might just cross the finish line he's been inching toward all these years. Why? Because, according to anonymous sources that spoke with Kotaku, everyone's favorite stripper-tipping ass-kicker is finally getting a much-needed change of scenery. So long, 3D Realms. Hello, Gearbox Software.
Gearbox, in case you've been living under a rock specifically designed to ward off only the best games, most recently churned out co-op smash-hit Borderlands. The developer's also responsible for Brothers in Arms, and was – at one point – designing a Duke Nukem spin-off called Duke Nukem Begins.
The craziest part? We could be taking a demo of the game for a test drive as soon as later this year, since Gearbox is picking up where 3D Realms left off development-wise.
When reached for comment, all parties involved refused to confirm or deny anything, although Take-Two acknowledged that it still retains publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever – even after the dismissal of its oft-publicized lawsuit against 3D Realms.
However, Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford gave a not-so-subtle hint that we'll hear more about Duke's development switcheroo at the Penny Arcade Expo, which takes place at the beginning of September.
Translation: Get excited. Duke's back, and he may very well be better than ever – which, in this case, means “a videogame that human beings can actually play.”
I can’t even imagine how boring presenting a game at E3 must get. You’ve got a cramped room, countless herds of tired, sweaty journalists, and the same canned “Lookit! A low level enemy!” presentation day in and day out. For three grueling days. Yet somehow, Gearbox Studios’ Randy Pitchford gave off so much unbridled enthusiasm that you would’ve thought his game was some juicy piece of gossip he’d been keeping under wraps for years.
Honestly, though, Pitchford’s boisterous excitement wasn’t without warrant. After all, Borderlands recently underwent a cosmetic surgery not unlike that of Team Fortress 2, resulting in an attractive comic book-style wrapping for the shooter-RPG. In other words, Borderlands looks like an entirely different game now, and a far more appealing one at that. Fortunately, its gameplay – which has always struck me as the expected result of Diablo, Halo, and Fallout 3 walking into a bar – remains just as alluring as always, even in the face of shiny new graphics.
During the presentation, Pitchford and two other Gearbox devs showed off Borderlands’ co-op mode, which allows up to four players to kick up dust in the game’s colossal desert world together. First, we saw two players take on impish, Gollum-like enemies called Scags by – what else – shooting them. As with enemies in obvious role model Diablo, Borderlands’ baddies drop all kinds of algorithmically generated loot, making for a whopping total of over half a million weapons in the game. If you can find a use for that many weapons that doesn’t involve building a Death Star, you’re a better man (and/or woman) than I.
Apparently, variations on that algorithm will power the enemy spawning system as well, though obviously in much smaller quantities. As we were made aware of this, another type of Scag whose most defining characteristic was that he was on fire howled and leapt at our guides. The merits of the evolutionary trait of being aflame notwithstanding, the spicy fiesta style Scag was quickly blasted, and the show went on.
Read more to see our verdict on Borderlands' E3 showing.
A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the venerable Tim Rogers, an opinionated games writer if ever there was one. Here's the fun thing about Rogers, though: If you were to shuffle one of his reviews in with those of ten other game reviewers, his piece would stand out like the Batman in daylight, foremost for one obvious reason -- it'd be really, really long. Rogers meanders all over the place, delving into each aspect of a game, as well as many things seemingly unrelated, which he then acknowledges as seemingly unrelated. Sometimes, after noticing that 15 minutes have ticked away from your life and your web browser's scroll bar thing is only half-way down the page, you just wish he'd get to the point.
Rogers, as far as game reviewers go, is an anomaly. People don't want a novel; they want pros, cons, and a numerical score, because they'd rather be dashing someone's virtual brains against the pavement than learning. So I guess it kind of makes sense that games generally exist on the flipside of that reviewing stereotype.
Take, for instance, Resident Evil. Find the red lion, blue tiger, and green goat to form a key so that you can crank open the Voltron door. Sure, your gun-toting pyromaniac of a hero probably could've written a book titled "101 Ways To Pop A Door Off Its Hinges," but where's the fun in that?
Oddly, even though we constantly quip about padded-out sequences or pointless sidequests in our favorite games, we sound the sirens on the whaaambulance when those elements finally take a hint.
So which do you want? Games that toss in chores and fetch quests in exchange for that ever so marketable "60 hours of gameplay!" bullet point, or masterfully designed experiences -- like Portal -- that leave you hungry for more?
Well, today's Roundup, described by some as a "masterfully designed experience -- like Portal -- that leaves you hungry for more," hopes to satisfy all comers. Caged within, you'll find stories about a bill of rights for PC gamers, a new race for StarCraft II, and free gas! You heard me -- free gas! It's all after the break.