Some time on Saturday, as I was playing Duke Nukem Forever on my Xbox 360, I realized that in all the conversations I've had with people from Gearbox Software—the company that heroically salvaged this game from its decade-plus sink toward oblivion—no one ever said this game would be wonderful.
They reveled in accomplishing the impossible task of bringing a presumably dead game back to life. They rejoiced in gaining control of the Duke character, of giving Duke what he deserves—namely freeing the character from the drag of gaming's longest-running gag, the interminable development cycle of Duke Nukem Forever.
Not once did the Gearbox people promise me the game would great. Outrageous? Sure. A great game? Or even a good game? Nope.
They were content to confirm that the game was... a game. A real game that real people would be able to play in 2011. That was stunning enough information. Judging from the first few levels I've played of DNF, it also seems to be as far as honest hype could take them.
I was going to write about how unpleasant my time with Duke Nukem Forever has been so far—how primitive its technology appears to be, how clunky it animates, how crude it looks, how uninteresting its level design is, how forever-long its load times are—but I decided to simply show you with the video atop this story. (Note: If you're a fan of the Duke character, you *might* like this game more than I did.)
The people who accomplished the task of bringing Duke Nukem Forever to life should be proud of doing what so many had failed to do for so long. But pending a dramatic improvement in the game's latter levels, which will embarrass this initial impression into being the inverse of some unimaginably glowing Kotaku review, what we've got here is no magnificent resurrection. It's more of reanimated corpse, a shambling, shivering thing of the past, thought dead but now brought back.
Apologies to any Dead Rising or Resident Evil games coming out later in 2011, but for its initial exhibition of something old and seemingly dead brought stumbling into the present—decayed parts still on its skeleton—Duke Nukem Forever is my early nominee for Zombie Game of the Year.
Duke Nukem Forever is out now in Europe and Australia. It will be released in North America on June 14.