Is Duke Nukem Still Relevant?
Posted on Wednesday September 29, 2010, 13:49 by David Scarborough in Infinite Lives
If anything has fuelled the long dwindling flames of the Duke Nukem Forever debacle, it's the particularly pungent whiffs of sweaty nostalgia. One minute the sequel to the popular ‘90s franchise was in development; the next it had vanished into oblivion; then every so often a teasing glimpse would be released, before an ensuing silence spanning several years. Throughout this extensive anguish the feverish passion of the fans has refused to subside.
At the recent Penny Arcade Expo, gamers across the globe were finally presented with the confirmation that ol’ Duke would be bringing his bleached badass attitude back to gaming. Big guns, bigger aliens and an even bigger bravado were all present and correct in the displayed gameplay demo. With much relief, it looked like the King was truly back in business.
But, then again, who cares?
The hotbed of gaming controversy has moved on quite sizeably since Duke’s seminal outing, Duke Nukem 3D. Once, the idea of visiting a strip joint and being discourteous to the employees was enough to get tongues tittering on the playgrounds while raising the odd bit of media hullabaloo to boot. Now that type of activity would be a mere conservative excursion on the way to mowing down a metropolis of innocent bystanders.
Yet it wasn’t the controversial material that just made Duke into the ultimate gaming anti-hero for children of the ‘90s, but the humour, which appealed to the puerile sensibilities of the audience that games were failing to address at the time. We wanted excess gore, we wanted arbitrary nudity, and we wanted explicit language as often as possible. Duke delivered all of that in the only steroid-induced way he could.
It’ll be fourteen years since the series’ last ‘proper’ sequel by the time Duke Nukem Forever finally reaches shop shelves – a few console iterations barely count – and gaming has changed immensely since those days. You don’t have to look far to see the grunt machismo template of Duke within most other sci-fi shooters, full of those pulsating necks bigger than their protagonists’ heads.
Characters have grown more complex, not restricted to minimal bursts of crackling dialogue. Involving cinematics and multifaceted narratives have pushed the medium into a genuine platform of art – regardless of what Lord Ebert’s ferocious expressions proclaim. The comedy has evolved from just juvenile scattershot remarks, and audiences expect humour to be woven into a grander story, as a part of the character rather than just the character.
The Grand Theft Auto series is full of coarse explicit witticisms, but does so with a satirical eye on the American dream. Even self-referential humour has since been done in more accomplished ways, with both the uneven Matt Hazard series and the recent Scott Pilgrim game managing to triumph in their devoted homage.
Getting past the initial awe of the announcement, I fail to see what place Duke still has in gaming. At one time he presented a farcical epitome of America’s overblown patriotism, but today he seems to almost correlate with our time's top gaming heroes. It’s no longer the Greek God image of America he’s projecting, but almost the Geek God image that gaming endows.
I’m not suggesting that Duke needs to start taking lessons from GTA or any other more accomplished or nuanced titles, but instead focus on the themes with which it initially succeeded. Perhaps it should take a direct shot at the first-person shooter genre, making use of the sci-fi setting to lambast the league of futuristic shooters that have emerged in the last decade.
However he chooses to return, Duke isn’t the icon he once was, instead shuffling into the limelight like a single middle-aged uncle trying to desperately impress onlookers at a wedding reception. Gaming has changed, and it’s about time Duke did the same – career reinvention, anyone?
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Posted on Wednesday September 29, 2010, 16:02
I think I no the answer; I don't care. 9/10 the blogs from Empire are quite good, but I'm having trouble working out where this one comes from. Like you say, who cares?
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 08:45
So this article is basically saying, "Duke Nukem isn't extreme enough for today's standards"? Why does a game have to be extreme?
Like most stuff, this article compares Duke to GTA. Big mistake for a "games writer". A game does not have to take things to an extreme in order to be an enjoyable play. Yeah maybe some of the fans are pent up with nostalgia but Duke wasn't good for being extreme. It had a cracking engine behind it but it was a mix of fantastic story, big monsters which were complimented Duke's brutal attitude.
It wasn't loved because it was "advanced", it was a good combination of effort and thought. New Duke is welcomed.
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 09:42
As long as I get Big guns big bad ass monsters to kill and the most awesome one liners ever ill be happy. I mean im sick of all the same shit stories mankinds last hope blah blah. From what ive seen from Forever im getting it on day 1
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 11:38
Using GTA as a yardstick is a mistake. It was a very technically impressive game, but by golly it was boring.
I'm fed up with 'serious' games. Duke is exactly what we need; no story, no coherant plot, just blowing up bad guys with really big guns. What's so wrong with that?
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 13:27
Once again Empire show they have literally no clue about gaming what so ever.
Who cares??? You're kidding right?? People having been waiting for this game over 10 years sunshine. You may be able to get away with writing tripe like this in Empire but I dare you to put this where most hard core gamers actually read it and see what response you get.
Being that Epic Games (people who made Gears of War) have picked up the licence and are in the process of finishing the game, I think that show the place he has. Place enough for a hugely popular gaming developer to want to finish and release the game.
As another poster stated, why compare it to GTA? It is in a totally different genre, sand box games have no bearing on what FPS's get released.
Some people reading might think he has no place but I can assure you there are millions of REAL gamers who will disagree. And he absolutely the icon he once was, once again, millions of gamers will disagree.
And why is some tard who works for Empire writing about this? All you are doing with this is showing, as I stated before, that you know nothing about games.
of course no one reading Empire will care, it's a movie magazine that delivers very questionable reviews on things. I would stick to that if I were you. And try not to mistake your very over inflated bullsh*t opinion for fact.
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 14:16
Edit for above post as their doesn't seem to be one on the page.
it is in fact Gearbox who are now finishing the game. Not Epic. Just in case anyone wanted to be picky.
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 14:28
Totally agree with all above comments.
Me want Big guns, silly one liners, absolutely non-neccesary nudity, and all of the other Duke goodness.
If they changed it, as you mention, it WOULD just be another generic shooter, whcih you appear to be fond of.
Long live the Duke!
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 14:59
Duke Nukem remains the best first person shooter ever. It may have been surpassed in terms of graphics and plot complexity, but it's never been surpassed in terms of sheer fun.
As far as I'm concerned, the new game is the very Holy Grail of computer games. (assuming it ever actually comes out, of course).
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 15:27
Wow, I think you're all missing the point massively. Think about it, the game's been in development three or four times over, across the last decade or so. Whatever comes out - if anything ever does appear - will NOT live up to the weight of expectation that gamers have put on it. It could be the second bloody coming, and it still won't be good enough to justify the insane development time.
And I kinda agree with the writer - the exact kind of humour and over-the-top-ness of the originals will feel awkward now, not because other games have become more sophisticated but because that slapstick level of humour as a whole seems more dated. Even South Park has a more intellectual slant to its humour now than it did a decade ago.
FPS games are all pretty similar anyway - that's something that's gotten worse since Halo seemed to force everyone to have no more than two weapons at a time and use replenishing shields - and I don't see Duke Forever bringing anything new to the table. That only leaves the old, and while it might still be entertaining, I reckon it will feel really dated when you get to play it.
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 19:58
Please leave game journalism to game journalists. You clearly have no idea what your talking about
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 21:53
you "hard-core" gaming folk really are a funny breed.It seems opinions dont enter into it with you,if you dont think he has a right to post about games why read it?hes only having his say,i dont necessarily agree with him either but give the abuse a rest and please stop giving gamers (including myself),a bad name by trying to make it the most exclusive hobby in the world.ive never seen a group of people so willing to look down on anyone who doesnt know or play as much as you hardcore folk do.except maybe trekkies.and trust me,id consider myself quite serious about gaming,i just respect that some people like to enjoy it casually too.
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 22:42
I apologise if my opinion doesn’t correlate with that of the ‘hardcore’ contingency but I can assure you I am as passionate gamer as anyone. I used GTA only as an example of storytelling interwoven with intellectual and churlish humour, it was not meant to represent the rule.
Duke is an icon of gaming past, I was just offering an alternative opinion about his status, hoping to open a debate on whether he deserves his position. Childish humour can still work - just look at DeathSpank - but Duke’s unique brand doesn’t hold much weight in my eyes. That’s not to say the FPS genre should be taken overly seriously - I’ve recently played Bulletstorm that looks enjoyably loony – it’s just the expectations associated with this particular franchise seems unwarranted.
He also owes far too much to Bruce Campbell.
Posted on Thursday September 30, 2010, 22:56
And the lack of edit button is frustrating at this time of night armed with such erroneous spelling. ''Hardcore' constituency', was what should have been typed.
Posted on Friday October 1, 2010, 10:24
Well put Scabby,I just can't trust any group of people who refer to THEMSELVES as hardcore.they'll be up in arms soon.....virtual arms though so no real threat....zing
Posted on Friday October 1, 2010, 10:27
The only way Duke Nukem Forever remains relevant is as a beacon of how not to develop videogame. It's an enormous joke for the industry, and likely only being finished at Gearbox to avoid further embarrassment and salvage whatever money can still be made off it.
"making use of the sci-fi setting to lambast the league of futuristic shooters that have emerged in the last decade" - can't say I agree with this. For one it doesn't have the talent behind the property. Also most games in the FPS genre are typically (and unfortunately) in a contemporary or period setting. I for one am pleased to find that Halo: Reach has been so popular. It's easily one of the most innovative and creative series of the past decade, and, unlike the competition of Modern Wafare, the masters over at Bungie put equal effort into their campaigns as much as the multiplayer - a component that sadly seems to dominate the majority of purchase decision these days. Lastly no other FPS (bar Valve's work) can stand up the the "universe" that Bungie has created. It's the balance of the enemy set and brutal AI, the joy of jumping into its sandbox and knowing that it's going to play out differently every single time.
Posted on Friday October 1, 2010, 14:24
That last comment was laughable.
Obviously a Halo fanatic. Dude, Halo has always been balls. Britney Spears sells a lot of records but her music still sucks.
And for those who defend the article editor, seriously, he needs this feedback.
-Stop with the comments like "Who cares?" to something that fans are obviously hanging on to with every inch of their hope. You all that aren't looking forward to it might not feel the urge to play this game, but don't tell us that we don't care. Not caring dosn't hold a solid 10+years of hope, watching and waiting for the new games release. So don't tell us what we don't care about, because we obviously do.
A comment like that was like a lamb to the slaughter. I'm sorry but it's your own fault. Hopefully this can help you grow as a games journalist....sincerely, mate.
Posted on Sunday October 3, 2010, 00:54
Seriously folks. Grow up! Duke Nukem was a juvenile game that we all enjoyed as teenagers but we're all supposed to be older and maturer now. If you still think that the content of the original games is funny then you are welcome to enjoy the new one but I really don't think that you can call yourself a "hardcore gamer". A self-designated "hardcore gamer" is someone that doesn't have a life outside gaming and probably doesn't have a job or a spouse. I enjoy playing games but struggle to fit it in around work and a girlfriend. I suppose that makes me a "casual" gamer now but, to be honset, I don't care!