Last year at PAX Prime we had the chance to check out Duke Nukem Forever, as its existence was officially revealed. The dust has finally settled and we've accepted that the mythical sequel does, in fact, exist. With that, we took another go with fresh eyes at PAX East. One question remains, however. With the launch of Bulletstorm, does Duke still have a place in the vulgar, "dude-bro" category?
Identical to what was playable at the original reveal, we got to play two different levels of the game.The first level starts out, where else, but in front of a urinal. The expected vulgarity is relevant right away with the fact that you have the option to start relieving yourself. From there, you head out of the bathroom into a locker room where you are greeted by three soldiers who are pondering the plan of attack, standing next to a white board that so graciously sports the words "Operation: Cockblock". As you approach the soldiers, two of them head out the door to defend the location and the remaining soldier urges you to squiggle obscenities on the white board. Similar to the beginning urination sequence, this is an optional event that provides nothing but emphasis on Duke's personality.
Once you finish doodling, you make your way out of the locker room and into a hallway. It's clear you are in some sort of stadium, and the confirmation of the thought arrives shortly. The hallways are caving in from the classic pig aliens, and the NPCs are doing the dirty work of fighting back as you maneuver your way to the surface. After a couple flights of stairs and a few turns, you come across an elevator that brings you onto a football field where a giant boss is ready to fight. This is where you pick up your first weapon in the game, a rocket launcher. As expected, the plan is to take out the alien boss. Ammo stashes are strewn around the field, so once you run out you'll have to make your way to stock up. You run out a few times, so it's a repeat occurance to avoid attack and stock up on ammunition. When the boss is just about dead, you trigger a QTE set piece to finish him off, which is a nice addition to reflect Duke Nukem's badass rapport.
That's the re-introduction to Duke. The first level is epilogued by a small cut-scene of a first person view of Duke sitting in a chair, game controller in hand, with dialogue touching on the over a decade slumber and how it's good to be back. His comment on being good to be back is accentuated by two women coming into frame from the bottom of the screen and appearing to have just pleasured the Duke, which speaks more to the raciness of the title.
The second level puts you right behind the wheel of Duke's off-road truck in a desert-like setting. Aside from the typical driving controls, you also have the ability to tighten the steering for quick and sharp turns, and also lay on the boost to make it across larger gaps - both very handy. On the drive, you run over some of the aliens, hit a few jumps and finally run out of gas. From there you take it on foot and fight your way through the rocky area. You get a hold of a few more weapons in this level; pistol, shotgun, shrink ray, pipe bombs, and a few more. Towards the end of the level, you come across a mounted machine gun to defend yourself against a small wave of pigs. Once you clean house, you are greeted by the second, and final, boss-type in the demo - an armed space craft. This is where you equip yourself with another rocket launcher and do your worst.
Now that it's finally going to make it's way onto shelves after all this time, it's not the only game of it's kind anymore.
The game that is frequently being viewed as the "Duke of this generation" is Bulletstorm, and that is a worrysome statement when there is actually a Duke Nukem on the way. The comparison does bring up a great deal of similarities, but it's in good thought that Duke Nukem Forever will still hold it's own.
Bulletstorm shares the futuristic setting, gore and language of Duke, as well as hints of cockiness and the gung-ho badass attitude. These traits are all generalities on their own, but are rarely combined in such an abundance within a game - which is the likely explanation for the comparison of the two titles. However, after playing through Bulletstorm and getting hands-on with Duke Nukem Forever, it's apparent that both titles are their own beasts.
Bulletstorm's setting is enveloped in a futuristic arena, where Duke Nukem feels closer to present time with upgrades in weapon technology and featured an alien invasion.
The language in Bulletstorm is definitely colorful, but the abundance isn't as much as you'd expect from the marketing of the title. The usage of the language only seems just a touch over unnecessary in Bulletstorm as it usually reflects the mood of the dialogue and pertains to the typical military-esque banter portrayed in movies, where in Duke it appears to bear more of a "just because" and over the top approach.
The one aspect of a racy game that Duke Nukem Forever maintains, that Bulletstorm does not, is the inclusion of sexuality. Going back to the hands-on, they introduce this in the minor cutscene featuring the two women. The original Duke is known for it's sexual references where the game featured strip clubs, half-naked women and dirty magazines, as well as usage of the racy dialogue. The inclusion of this aesthetic is already evident in Duke Nukem Forever.
In a year full of more serious and deep story-driven releases, Duke Nukem absolutely still has his place as a care-free title and will continue maintaining the reign of vulgar video game King. With the package of colorful language, gore, crude sexuality and humor, this is the same Duke we lost contact with over a decade ago.
Duke Nukem Forever is set for a May 3rd, 2011 release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.