The Average Gamer

Duke Nukem Forever Demo – First Impressions

DukeNukemForever_LogoAs part of the London Games Festival 2010, I went along with Weefz to the Duke Nukem event at The Red Room in London. This event represented the first time anyone in the UK had played the demo of Duke Nukem Forever. Given that this game has been in development for over 12 years, I was very excited to see what everyone had been working on.

We also got to interview Gearbox Software’s Steve Gibson which you can read in full on the London Games Festival blog.

Randy Pitchford (Gearbox Software’s CEO) briefly outlined the long development history behind Duke Nukem Forever, which I’ve covered in this post. Plot-wise, the game takes place 12 years after Duke Nukem 3D (natch!) and Duke is the richest, most famous guy on the planet. He owns his own casino and a hotel and he has an incredible Penthouse suite. Life is pretty awesome for Duke. He also has women all over him ;-) However, the aliens are back and have convinced the leaders of Planet Earth that they come in peace. Really they are here to steal all the women to breed a new alien race. It’s time for Duke to step in.

Finally, we got to play the demo. As it turned out I’d already seen about half of it as Gearbox had previously shown it in Amsterdam and at last month’s Penny Arcade Expo. The footage below is from Amsterdam:

The difference was, today I was the one controlling Duke Nukem. I played though levels 1 and 15 of the game which took about 20 minutes and included one big boss battle inside a football stadium. What is interesting is when you watch the possibly-leaked gameplay video (shown below) you begin to recognise sections of it from the demo:

Look at 2 min 13sec where Duke is battling a giant alien in a football stadium. Gearbox have made some changes to this sequence; in the demo it was set at night, in torrential rain but still in the stadium. The graphics look much better in the current demo than they do in the leaked video. At 1 min 33 secs you can see Duke’s falling, single finger salute animation, which also happens in the demo. In fact it was the last thing I saw Duke do. ;-)

Randy also mentioned that the second part of the demo (level 15) was about two-thirds of the way through the game. Given that there is still some time to go before the games release next year, I wouldn’t bother working out how many levels are in the game, based on this comment. As we all know with Duke Nukem Forever, things can and frequently will change.

I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account of the demo – no need to spoil the game events for you. However, after playing the demo twice, I came away feeling very encouraged by the whole experience. It was everything you would expect from a Duke Nukem game. There is urination, naked women, swearing, graphic violence, at least 1 vehicle to drive (much easier to control than Halo’s Warthog), a nice array of weapons and crapton of aliens to kill.

I am going to talk a bit more about the weapons. I managed to find and use this little lot:

  • Devastator
  • Shrink ray
  • Railgun sniper rifle
  • M1911 pistol
  • Shotgun
  • Ripper
  • Pipebomb
  • RPG

The devastator gun, which is shown in both videos, is used to take out the big boss alien in the stadium. In the demo it is also the first weapon you get to use, if you exclude the poo throwing in the bathroom. It’s a pretty effective gun with a high rate of fire and a thirst for ammo. Fortunately, the repeated ammo drops kept this gun purring nicely ;-) The shrink ray was great fun to use, turning all the aliens into teeny, tiny little monsters that you can just step on or squash with the your weapon’s melee attack. DukeNukemForever_ButtonConfig As soon as you’ve shrunk an alien they try to scamper away as quickly as possible but they don’t get far. Hehe. *Squish* The railgun sniper rifle is as destructive as you’d imagine, basting off heads, legs and arms with gay abandon and it had a kick-ass zoom sight. Definitely my favourite weapon in the demo.

The M1911 pistol and the shotgun are as devastating as ever, i.e. M1911 is rubbish when trying to shoot anything more than a few feet away and the shotgun is great for blowing up piggy heads at close range. The ripper acts very much like a mini gun, with a very high rate of fire and bullets that spray everywhere. The pipebomb works like a remotely detonated grenade, but this time the remote detonator is your car alarm key fob with authentic “bleep, bleep” sound. Nice little touches like this are what makes Duke Nukem Forever a really fun experience. Finally, the RPG is wonderfully destructive (surprise, surprise!) as I used it to blow up significant parts of the level (huts, foliage, more huts) as well as several unsuspecting aliens. There wasn’t much left of them after this.

The only downside of the demo was that the beer button (left on the d-pad) wasn’t working and I didn’t see a single beer in the demo. No beer for Duke, just violence, swearing and women.

So the weapons are awesome, the graphics are pretty tasty, the humour is incredibly crude making me laugh out loud on several occasions, and it was fun to play. Pretty much, this demo and the ridiculously awesome new trailer (just wait till you see it!) have made the wait for Duke Nukem Forever all the more excruciating!