Demo Report – Duke Nukem Forever Jun05


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Demo Report – Duke Nukem Forever

Friday morning (or Thursday night depending on how you look at it) at 12:00AM EST, the demo of Duke Nukem Forever went live on Steam.  Don’t get too excited, though, kids: it’s only avilable to the First Access Club.  The good news is that if you want to join the First Access Club, it’s not that difficult to do so.  Pre-order the Duke before its release on June 10 internationally (lucky foreigners) and June 14 in the US (or buy a new copy of Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition), and the demo’s yours.  In addition to demo access, First Access Club members get free multiplayer add-on content for the game after its release.  Still not sure if it’s worth pre-ordering?  Well, I did it (through OnLive, which earned me a free OnLive console at 5 bucks below the price of other retailers, but I’m not sure if I still get the add-on content or not), so I can tell you exactly what to expect from the demo.

If you’ve seen the mountains of promotional videos that have landed since PAX Prime 2010, you’ve seen most of what the Duke Nukem Forever demo has to offer.  Still, it’s one thing to see a video game, and another thing entirely to play it.  True to Duke Nukem form, this game promises to be a gloriously grusome display of sex, alcohol, and violence, thinly veiled by the story of Duke’s jaunty romp through alien infested Earth.  The gameplay is reminiscent of the classic Duke Nukem games, but the extremely-targeted-for-adults humor has been drastically amped up to meet the expectations of an audience that’s been waiting for twelve years.

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the Duke Nukem Forever demo are the references to other games laced throughout its unfortunately brief (it is only a demo, after all) gameplay.  After Duke finishes relieving himself in the urinal of the men’s locker room, which can go on for an impressive length of time, you can take him to see three soldiers planning their attack on an enormous alien foe, depicited on a white board on which you can doodle to your heart’s content (most of the fanbase seems fascinated with sketching male genitalia).  If you turn around, though, you’ll see a few TV screens filled with artwork reminiscent of Fallout 3, featuring Duke instead of Vault Boy.

Later on in the demo, after you’ve downed one big ugly boss, a few less ugly generic alien beasties, and a rocket launching spaceship, you’ll find a minecart Duke uses to launch across a gap too big to jump, which brings to mind the old classic, Donkey Kong Country.

And it’s hard to count the number of Half-Life references sprinkled throughout this demo.  When first entering the mine shaft and Duke finds the entry blocked with wooden planks, he comments on how handy a crowbar would be.  Spider-like aliens like to latch onto Duke’s face, similar to Half-Life’s headcrabs and the facehuggers of Aliens that inspired them.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but the exploding baby beasties found in the same cavern as the spiders look strangely similar to Halo’s Flood.

As a long-time gamer who can probably blame (or maybe thank, given my age at the time) his parents for missing out on the Duke’s lengthy dynasty of the past, I have absolutely no regrets in pre-ordering Duke Nukem Forever, and the tiny glimpse of the game I got from this demo only reinforces the decision.  Of course, the game’s been in development for twelve years, and it’s not actually being released for another week.  If DKF’s history is any indication, tomorrow, 2K and Gearbox could go completely bankrupt and cancel all distribution of this thing.  Something tells me if they don’t, they’ll have managed to disrupt the space-time continuum and cause the entire universe to implode.  If not, I’ll be greatly enjoying Duke Nukem Forever when I get my hands on it on June 14th.