Duke Nukem Forever tops Wired‘s Annual Vaporware List this year again, and seriously, I have to ask: who gives a shit about Duke Nukem? I mean, really?
I’m not just talking about “giving a shit about Duke Nukem” in the sense that it has been years and a lot since Duke Nukem 3D came out (what is it now, thirteen years? Fourteen?). Yes, I know all the Duke Nukem jokes and plays on the word “forever” (HEY GUYS THE GAME IS CALLED “DUKE NUKEM FOREVER” AND IT IS TAKING FOREVER TO COME OUT AMIRITE). I’m talking about the actual value of Duke Nukem itself.
Let’s be blunt: Duke Nukem isn’t particularly cool. The character is just a vehicle for recycling catchphrases from other, better settings – Bruce Campbell one-liners, quips from They Live and other John Carpenter flicks back when John Carpenter was still good, that sort of thing. The “attitude” is the product of a more conservative time, back when the original Grand Theft Auto was scandalous (imagine what people back then would have thought of Grand Theft Auto IV), when any minor dig at authority seemed like total and utter rebellion. “Eat shit and die” is not particularly clever.
And the game itself was pretty average, warmed over Doom 2 with a few minor tweaks and shittier weapons. The fact that you could flush the toilets and ogle a highly pixelated stripper didn’t make the game good. It made the game a little grimier, and to the authenticity-starved world of computer gaming in the mid-1990s, I can understand that this almost seemed like the same thing. But we’re nearly fifteen years later now; surely we understand that just a few swears isn’t a big deal any more, right?