Published Jun 27, 2011Soon after the 1996 release of 3D Realms' blockbuster first-person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D, the developer announced plans for a sequel, dubbed Duke Nukem Forever. Fans waited with bated breath. And then they just waited, and waited, and waited.
Duke Nukem Forever soon became synonymous with "vaporware": announced titles that never make their way out of development hell. After millions of dollars and likely as many man-hours, the game has finally been released thanks to Borderlands-maker Gearbox. However, it fails to meet 14 years of expectations, to say the least. Perhaps it should have taken the Postal Service route and simply been abandoned to avoid destroying the cult that's been built up around it. Alas, it didn't.
In its '90s incarnation, Duke Nukem was a satire that played on the latent misogyny and outrageousness of the era's action heroes. In 2011, the pixelated wink is gone in favour of straightforward offensiveness. It begins with a two-on-one blowjob before diving into alien rape and abortion jokes. Over in multiplayer, they even replace capture the flag with, of course, capture the babe, in which the goal is to kidnap schoolgirls and spank them when they complain.
Grand Theft Auto's infamous hidden "hot coffee" mini-game, in which San Andreas' CJ must pleasure his girlfriend, was an interesting direction for a game accused of being a hooker-killer simulator – and still Rockstar disabled the code before release (albeit it was later uncovered by a hacker). But the new Duke Nukem aims for only misogynistic mean boys, douche bag bullies and multiplayer tea-baggers. It's a game for 13-year-olds in body and mind.
I'm all for offensive in the name of satire – No More Heroes is one of my all-time favourites and it's a game where you save by taking a dump on the toilet. But there's no subtext here. Not to mention the game design is dated, the graphics are embarrassingly bad and there seems to have been no ambition beyond getting the damn game done.
So, kudos on that one point – Duke Nukem is vaporware no more. But now that it exists it's time for it to disappear. (2K/Gearbox)