As the release of Duke Nukem Forever looms, Matthew Jones takes a look at what is possibly the biggest development cycle of any game, ever
Few amongst us would remember the classic Duke Nukem: 3D of 1996. For most of us, the mid-90s were a haze of chocolate and sleeping. Not much has changed in the intervening years, but at least we can recognise a good game now.
When the original was released, it was slated by critics for being full of naked women, violent killing and deliciously varied expletives, but it was loved by others for those very reasons. Duke himself is a walking parody of all the best and worst parts of 90s cinema: he’s got Schwarzenegger’s muscles, Stallone’s drawl and the sheer machismo of both combined.
After calmly slaughtering his way through armies of aliens, Duke sat back and waited for a sequel that was always being developed but never saw the light of day. It is only now, almost a decade and a half after his last outing that the demo for the new game is almost ready. The story of Duke Nukem Forever is a massive tale featuring broken promises, broken game developers and broken bank accounts.
Less than six months after the release of Duke Nukem 3D, the game was announced in mid-1997. The game went through a large development cycle, with details of the storyline released and screenshots of gameplay published. When the trailer was unveiled at E3 in 1998, the world salivated over it.
However, it was still set for delays, the developers ripping out the outdated Quake 2 engine, and replacing it with the new Unreal engine. The publishers, 3D Realms, announced only a slight delay, and hoped for a 1999 release date.
Fast forward three years later and the publishers and developers have changed. The new developers, Take-Two Interactive, replaced the engine with one of their own and moved the release date to 2003.
The game became infamous for its overly protracted development schedule, a running joke that reignited with every new screenshot or development change. It reached the point that satirical videogame show, Zero Punctuation, dedicated a mock review for it which ended up being voted fans’ favourite despite the game not existing.
However In 2009, 3D Realms shuts its doors and 2K Games and Gearbox Software took over their role and in January 2011, they released a trailer for it. Setting a release date of May 6th 2011, the trailer pays homage to all the great 90s action movies. With brash wit and a vicious right hook, Duke Nukem is set to rock our world again…hopefully.