I love old friends. You know those people that you have known for YEARS and you don't always keep in contact with and you just pick up where you left off. New adventures with old memories and you even manage to relive the old times if you are lucky.
I am having that experience with Duke Nukem Forever. Its old Duke, with new features. But before going into why I love the new Duke, I want to mention why I love old Duke.
Duke Nukem (the first one) would have been one of the very first games I ever touched. Ever. I think Sonic the Hedgehog might have come a close second. But that side scrolling blonde guy with a big gun killing robots was my first real video game experience. And it was awesome. It kept me coming back for more every time. Eventually I finished the game (I think) and it was rewarding. For a 7 year old it was epic. It was a lot more involved than Sonic the Hedgehog was anyway. The platforming was less about speed and luck and more about timing, environment and if you had the right boots on. Upgrades kept you searching the levels rather than just trying to blow through them. Well that and the fact you needed keys to access some areas of the level. It offered more of a challenge and less twitchy responsiveness.
Duke Nukem II was less awesome for me. By the time I found it and played it I had already experienced DOOM, Wolfenstein 3D and also Descent. Being 6 years old when it was released, I didn't exactly have disposable income or anything. Either way by the time I found Duke II and played it (about '96 or '97), I had already played a couple of 3D FPS games. So the side scroller wasn't really "doing it" for me. It was still fun but I just never played much of it.
Duke Nukem 3D was the shit. He had lept out of his 2D-ness with a kick ass attitude and so many age inappropraite things for a 10 year old. Yeah, at the time I had enough sense to not let my parents know that i was watching pixellated boobies being shaken at me in a game. And to be honest, the adult content of the game brought a lot of humour to it. It wasn't the stoic space marine fighting on his own, it was Duke Nukem, narcissistic, crude and very much full of his own persona. There was no putting yourself in a nameless hero's shoes. You WERE Duke Nukem. And you kicked ass when you were out of bubble gum. The one liners really did add to the character. Everyone would have had a giggle when you tried to play with the pinball machine and have Duke come out with "Hmmm, don't have time to play with myself". In my limited knowledge of gaming history, I am pretty sure that is the first time players came up against something like this. I know I never experienced a game like it until this point. And honestly there are not a lot of games out there that have a main character with such an out there, egotistical, crude personality.
Duke 3D was awesome. You had a jetpack. You could swim. The level design was not like DOOM where you were bound to running around and jumping. If you couldn't get somewhere, chances are you needed a jetpack. Or a set of SCUBA gear. When you shot an alien with the RPG or other explosive device- they EXPLODED in a mess of body parts and blood! Yet it still had the essentials of a 90's FPS game- an insane amount of weaponry (see http://roosterteeth.com/archive/?id=1835&v=more for a demonstration of how insane it really is), keyed gates which hinder your progress, powerups (yeah steroids are so much better than the DOOM "Beserker Box") and plenty of enemies to shoot up. It left an impression. Could have been my young age though.
Duke Nukem Forever took long enough! Development fail. But its certainly the next stage for Duke. Graphics aren't as good as they could be. And that was my first impression. They are certainly better than Duke 3D but they aren't as polished as say, Halo:Reach, Call of Duty and certainly are so far behind a game like Final Fantasy XIII (which is just beautiful graphics wise). Honestly it was a little bit of a let down. I realise that 2K and Gearbox picked it up from a long list of developers who already put work into it, and I really don't know how much they used in the game. But considering both of these companies have had a lot of experience with games in the past, I expected a little more. Its not supposed to be "clean" graphics wise and its certainly not bad, but its a little pixellated in spots.
It is still the same Duke though. Its funny as hell and it is still hanging shit on other games. Notably is one of the Earth Defense Force soldiers offering Duke some "Green Power Armour" which looks a lot like Master Chiefs MJOLNIR armour from Halo. To this offer, Duke scoffs saying "Power Armour is for pussies" You cannot help but laugh. Its funny as. Trash talking, one liners, dirty women doing dirty deeds and the "Titty City" level- its all Duke. I am still playing with it so I can't really say too much about it. It is still well worth looking into.
With a seemingly endless development of Duke Nukem Forever, they seem to have done pretty well to update a mid 90's FPS into a modern FPS, complete with vehicles and aerial units adding to the realism of the environment. But is still the same Duke, slightly different voice from the 90's Duke (hey- hes 16 years older now...), it still feels like the same game. I am definitely enjoying it that's for sure!