Why the hell would people wait for the sequel to a game that came out more than a decade ago, with the sequel so elusive it defined the phrase vaporware for a whole generation? The answer: the original was damn funny and as political incorrect as possible. Released together with the flood of FPS games that were published in the wake of the success of Doom, Duke Nukem 3d went with a satiric approach that both mocked the genre and managed to be a fine FPS itself.
It’s wasn’t perfect by any means. Too often the level design relied on finding some obscure switch to advance further, often resulting in you running around trying to find whatever you’ve missed to leave the level. But all that was offset by the simple but effective humor. This wasn’t about subtlety nor about being laugh-out-funny, but about taking a piss on so many genre conventions that it hurt. Nobody expected Duke to become an icon of bad taste. The guy who was initially used to ridicule cliches, became a cliche himself. But then, cliches are only bad if their application is at fault, and DN3d is a perfect application of the bad-ass macho dude.
I recently fired the game up again, pimped up by the high resolution pack that shows Duke Nukem 3d in real 3d for the first time. It’s a great way to rediscover the game (although trying to set up the HRPacks for the add-ons DukeDC/Caribbean/Nuclear Winter is a nightmare, I didn’t managed it so far and have resigned myself to replay them with the old sprite-style). The four episodes of the Atomic Edition of the game have enough variety that playing through never becomes boring, although the third and the fourth episode lacked new ideas.
After playing through the game again, I must admit I’m happy that DNF seems to be still alive after all this time. It seems impossible how often this game managed to return from development hell, but from what I’ve seen of the game, it seems Duke is alive and well and still kicking alien ass.