Duke Nukem Forever: A life in trailers

The long and frustrating saga of Duke Nukem Forever came to a sad close last Wednesday, when developer 3D Realms closed its doors after some 12 years of working on the still-unfinished game. Ironically, Duke’s demise has shown us more of the game than we’ve ever seen before, as a ton of screens and a new gameplay video have since been leaked online by former 3D Realms employees.

Above: Clichéd mineshaft aside, this actually doesn't look half bad

With the game officially dead (for now) and its secrets laid bare for the internet to pick over, it seems like as good a time as any to look back at how far the game has come since its announcement in 1997. Beginning with DNF’s first trailer in 1998 and ending with the leaked footage, the following videos are a chronicle of one of the videogame industry’s most enduring and overwrought fiascos.


1998 – E3 trailer

Duke Nukem Forever’s first trailer since its 1997 announcement was impressive, especially for its time. The realistic physics on display were a rarity for 1998, and the idea of being able to actually blast levels apart was damn near revolutionary . Sadly, it wouldn’t be by the time 3D Realms unveiled its next trailer.


2001 – Second E3 trailer

In the three years since it gave fans their first taste of the game, 3D Realms had gone back to the drawing board and remade DNF practically from scratch. But no matter. The game still looked great, and the working vending machines, cool-looking vehicles and promise of an awesome sense of scale made us all eager to play in Duke’s world. Too bad we wouldn’t see it again until…


2008 – Third E3 trailer

Really? The next Duke trailer didn’t come out for another seven years? Not that it really mattered by this point; since 2001, Duke Nukem Forever had gone from an eagerly awaited dream project to an industry joke. When the 2008 trailer hit, its jump-cuts and overall lack of substance were all the ammunition the internet needed to make fun of it. Rumors circulated that 3D Realms never actually intended to produce a game at all. Duke was, by this point, a relic whose time had passed. And everyone seemed to realize it except for 3D Realms.


May 2009 – Leaked trailer

Released only after 3D Realms had finally closed its doors, the above footage gave us our first - and probably last - real look at Duke Nukem Forever in eight years. While unfinished, it's not unimpressive, and watching it makes reports that the game was about a year away from release suddenly seem believable. The vehicles that lit up previous trailers are absent (although the screens reveal that there would have been a least a few driving levels), but in their place is what looks to be a fun FPS in the goofy spirit of Duke Nukem 3D. It's enough to make us a little sad about the game's demise, and after 12 years of pent-up bitterness, that comes as a shock.

That said, it may be a little too early to close the book on Duke Nukem Forever completely. Take-Two still owns the publishing rights, after all, and it's possible the half-finished game could be handed over to another developer for completion. (Never mind the rumors that the "closure" and subsequent leak are actually a publicity stunt to drum up support fot the game.) It might take a while, but then, Duke Nukem fans are used to waiting.

May 12, 2009


  • batmanboy11 - September 4, 2010 11:31 p.m.

    Well now it is coming out.
  • MechGyver - May 18, 2009 12:30 a.m.

    3D Realms, sorry for the miss spelling !LOL!
  • MechGyver - May 18, 2009 12:25 a.m.

    Take-Two must be the dumest company in the world, letting 3D Reals work on a game for 12 years, jesus. If you wait 12 years for a game, this is what normaly happens, !!!!!!it never comes out("and you lose money")!!!!!.
  • Circlestrafe - May 17, 2009 10:27 p.m.

    @puffader, Well since Take-Two still owns the publishing rights, it IS possible, but I don't recommend that anyone hold their breath!
  • puffader - May 16, 2009 7:24 a.m.

    Can't someone else just finish? Or just give us all the unfinished crap since 2000 and playing all the diffrent builds could be fun!
  • vitoruss - May 15, 2009 12:37 p.m.

    What? Screw Duke Nukem, Serious Sam kicks his ass. I want another Serious Sam. Make another Serious Sam. Seriously.
  • killemall - May 14, 2009 7:49 p.m.

    @bigboss, stop being a nickpicky little bitch. RIP DUKE
  • killemall - May 14, 2009 7:42 p.m.

    I Weep for Duke!!!! ReCaptcha: 9.30 invite
  • KhPwNaGe - May 14, 2009 3:53 p.m.

    you know, I kind of grew up with Duke, so when I heard 3D Realms had closed down, I died on the inside a little. DNF could still be revived, but... it won't be the same without 3D Realms logo stamped on the corner (if it could still see the light of day.)I still think, even if they didn't finished and took Forever to make new gameplay footage and trailers, they did their best and it was worth it to just have a taste of what could've been a revival of a great franchise. Thanks GR for this little article on most of our childhoods relived waiting for DNF.
  • atz4 - May 14, 2009 1:15 a.m.

    than again chinese democracy came out.....
  • Amatarasu - May 13, 2009 10:33 p.m.

  • Life - May 13, 2009 10:01 p.m.

    I laughed really hard at the articles subtitle on the front page.
  • JakkedGamer - May 13, 2009 9:11 p.m.

    This really saddens me, a real dissapointment. I,ve seen all of the trailers, except that last one, and hell the game looks almost done. DNf does not stand for "Duke Nukem Forever", but Did Not Finish. "Always bet on Duke" turned out to be a phrase that i can not "bet" on anymore. I love Duke games, been a fan FOREVER, loved Duke 3D and Duke Nukem:Zero hour. Now all i have to remeber his legacy by is Duke Nukem 3D on the Xbox live arcade. I can hope 4 another developer, fans of Duke hopefully, to pick the game up and finish the damn thing already, but it's unlikely. RIP Duke, u will be missed. Hail 2 the King BABY!
  • TrIp13G - May 13, 2009 8 p.m.

    Alright, forget what I said. The site is back up.
  • TrIp13G - May 13, 2009 7:57 p.m.

    Well, since the official 3DRealms website is no longer active, I think it's safe to say that they've gone tits-up.
  • xXHaloKillerXx - May 13, 2009 7:05 p.m.

    Looked like fun!!!Reminded me of Serious Sam a little.
  • JizzyB - May 13, 2009 5:42 p.m.

    Bummer. the game looks cool
  • nikrusty - May 13, 2009 2:19 p.m.

    it's a shame they shutdown, but they were never really creating Duke Nukem for so many years, just teasing. Why would u keep makig duke nukem just like that, it's stupid!
  • ToastedToasters - May 13, 2009 4:51 a.m.

    doesn't anyone find it fishy how they close right around the time they announce crritical mass don't get your hopes up but i'm kinda suspicious
  • crossed23 - May 13, 2009 1:33 a.m.

    We still gettin a DS and PSP Duke this year confirmed..... Wich is awesome, but damn those pig animations on the unfinished build were pretty impressive. Really who wouldnt buy Duke Nukem Forever if it ever released. Hell I would buy it even if it sucked just to own the most delayed game ever and put it beside my copy of E.T. for Atari(If I can ever find where they buried them) proudly.

Showing 1-20 of 58 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000