Thursday, 09 September 2010

A brief history of Duke Nukem

Duke Nukem. The macho antihero. A legendary character by all accounts. Or perhaps he is more infamous these days. The ridiculously lengthy development of Duke Nukem Forever has turned many fans of the franchise into cynics. The recent announcement of Gearbox Software picking up the title might mean that the game finally sees a release. Whether or not it's any good remains to be seen, but it will at the least bring closure.

We take a look back at the happier Duke times.

Duke Nukem (July 1991)

Duke was birthed of Apogee Software, which would later develop under the name of 3D Realms. The macho man first appeared wearing a neon pink sleeveless hunting jacket. He was however brandishing huge muscles and a large gun, so nobody called him out about it.

Set in the 'near future' of 1997, Duke Nukem 1 was a side-scrolling action platform game, notable for its clever level design and destructible environments. The mad Dr. Proton is determined to take over the world with an army of Techbots. Duke won't stand for this. He chases Dr. Proton through a destroyed Los Angeles, to Proton's secret moonbase, and finally into the future where his schemes are brought to an end.

Even macho man Duke Nukem takes time to understand the fairer sex

Duke Nukum fun fact: After the release of the game, Apogee became aware that a character from the cartoon Captain Planet was also named Duke Nukem. To avoid a potential lawsuit, the company renamed the game Duke Nukum for version 2.0. It turns out that Duke Nukem wasn't actually a registered name, and Apogee quickly snatched it up.

The real Duke Nukem could mop the floor with this imposter - Combat boots VS flip flops = no contest

Duke Nukem II (December 1993)

Triumphant upon his return from thwarting Dr. Proton, Duke is a hero to the masses, and he's ditched the neon pink sleeveless hunting jacket in favour of the now iconic red wife beater. During a television interview on the topic of his autobiography 'Why I'm So Great,' Duke is kidnapped by the Rigelatins.

The Rigelatins intend to use his brain to plan their attack on Earth, but they didn't plan on Duke being so badass. He busts out of his pathetic Rigelatin prison cell and proceeds to open up a can of Whoop-Ass!

Duke Nukem 3D (January 1996)

The title that cemented duke's legendary gaming icon status. Duke 3D was released in a period when 3D FPS games were just coming into their own, and as a result, the interactive 3D environments of the game went a long way to winning gamers hearts and minds.

The level design, the monsters, the weapons, the babes, the pop culture references, the early internet multiplayer implementation - the game had everything.

Aliens have come to Earth and are busily kidnapping all the women as part of their interstellar planned parenthood programme. Duke won't stand for aliens ruining Earth, and he especially won't stand for them kidnapping all the hot chicks. The ensuing romp takes players through numerous Earthly locations from the familiar to the surreal, and off into space where Duke dishes out the Whoop-Ass on alien home turf.

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project (May 2002)

It's good to be king

Manhattan project was a side-scrolling action platform game which paid homage to the earlier Duke titles. Many familiar Duke elements spanning the previous three titles were present. It was fun, if not memorable. The biggest problem with Manhattan Project, was that it wasn't Duke Nukem Forever - a game which had been promised for over five years by 2002.

Duke Nukem Finally?

Duke Nukem Forever. The mention of this game title elicits a surge of emotions in many fans. Hope, anger, longing, depression, boredom. In the wake of 3D realms' closure, Gearbox Software has stepped up to the challenge, and it looks like Duke Nukem Forever might actually be released next year.

It might not be the next revolution in FPS games (then again, it might be - Gearbox is a pretty good developer), but it will at least bring closure to the Forever saga.

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