I played Duke Nukem Forever yesterday. Seriously, that is a thing that actually happened. I still can't quite believe it, and I was there. As well as finally playing a game that I've been emotionally invested in for nearly half of my life, I had a great time talking to Randy Pitchford and Steve Gibson, respective President and Marketing Director at Gearbox Software, Duke's new developer.
It was a fun, in-depth, and really funny chat that really blew the lid on Duke's 12-year journey, as well as exactly what we can expect from his triumphant return. I'm currently typing like the wind to get it ready for you to read later this afternoon [EDIT: It's here! Click on for everything you need to know about DNF over three knowledge-packed pages], but as a little bonus I wanted to give you a quick preview, containing a couple of my favourite talk-bits from the outspoken duo. Thought Duke was an outdated has-been? You won't in a minute.
When I asked how on Earth a character so grounded in the balls-out machismo of '80s and '90s action movies would sit alongside the more sensitive, emotionally troubled heroes of our gentler modern gaming age, Randy spoke thusly:
"Yeah, it’s really interesting. It’s almost ironic because of that. He’s almost fresh now. Like, here’s the guy who was really an amalgamation of all the action heroes. He was a cliché. And someone who was a cliché when he was created, because of this almost pussification of our heroes over the years, they’ve become so emo, now Duke is actually kind of fresh in this world"
And Mike was even more forthright on the subject of the new breed of caring, sharing, emo heroes, bleeding their hearts instead of their enemies:
"Shit’s gone off the rails. Everybody’s so like, 'Oh, a game’s got to be art, and oh, I need to show my creative…' You know, it’s bullshit. A lot of it’s just bullshit. I don’t want to just crap all over things. There’s a lot of great things happening too. Like Uncharted, I think is amazing. That is one of the most amazing, fantastic things. It blows us away. But it’s so different from what we’re doing. (laughs) It’s a different sport, not just not in the same ball park. "
So why are we stuck with such a miserable blanket archetype in a medium that's all about fun? Says Mike:
"The more people get involved, the more things kind of get homogenised. It’s like 'Okay, here’s the formula we know works...
"So sometimes things will become the standard, but they actually don’t even matter. So that’s frustrating sometimes. And you have to fight against that. “Dude, that doesn’t even matter! Do what’s fun...
"One game did that, and it sold well, and now we all have to do this crap"
Personally, I think that bodes very well for Duke's bid to kick gaming's arse back into the raucus fun that got us all into it in the first place. Hell, having played it, I know that things are looking great. But what do you think? Do we need Duke's blunt badassery back? Let me know. And absolutely keep checking back on GamesRadar this afternoon for the rest of my talk with the Gearbox guys. You'll be really glad you did.