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Is Duke Nukem Forever past its sell-by date?

Preview: It's been 13 years in the making - but is it any good?

The last time I had such a gnarled ornament of human shit in my hand, it belonged to Demi Moore.

That was a horrifying late-night delusion - and a cast-iron advert for why one shouldn't eat too much Blue Stilton before napping.

But this... this is happening in front of my very eyes. It's scarcely as believable.


This is Duke Nukem Forever. The game that couldn't be. The game that software designers see etched on their CV in duvet-thumping nightmares. The game that died for good - suffocated and entombed by legal dust-ups and under-staffed desperation.

And yet, here I stand; virtual, steaming wad of faeces in my leather-gloved grasp, faced with the reflection of a legend I haven't personified since puberty.

Like his own crippled franchise, the bathroom mirror that duplicates Duke's erect blonde hair, cocksure smirk and, of course, that red vest, has seen better days. Smashed from the centre out, its segmented shards fail to offer a full, triumphant portrait.

Perhaps he doesn't deserve one.

As Gearbox boss (and Saviour Of DNF) Randy Pitchford has just exhilaratingly explained, Duke has plenty of reason to feel ashamed. He's the man who had it all; the dude who could have been gaming's Stallone, Statham - sod it - Schwarzenegger.


But he - or, at least, his technological parents - pissed it all away, leaving a legendarily un-PC legacy in ruins, and Duke-worshipping gamers everywhere to grow up, get jobs and forget just how funny pixelated tits and recycled Evil Dead lines can be.

As Nukem's reflection stares out at me, mahogany mush warmly moulding to his fingers, I feel the fourth wall tumble.

"So, Duke. Gonna offer me an apology? You were great all those years ago, and then what? You went into hiding. You coward. It makes it worse to have kept teasing me for over a decade, you prick. I loved you, you know. Yeah, well, you're lucky I'm even talking to you. I've done a lot of growing up. I'm not even sure I know who you are any more."

But there is no apology. The Duke does not do 'sorry'.

What he does do is raise his palm up and back, and fling shit - freshly fished from the gent's arse basin at the Detonators football stadium - in the direction of my psychotic simpering.

But I've done this. It's my finger that's flipping RT. And I'm laughing.

Ack. No. Am I? Oh, bugger. I am. I'm forgiving the bastard.

Before I can express this new-found clemency, urgency takes hold. I trundle out of the toilet, through the locker room, via the dewy shower block - and towards the screams.

Left in my wake, a fizzling plasma screen, fixed to the wall and coughing out the doesn't-take-a-genius premise of DNF: 'Alien invasion underway. So blow it out your ass.'

The first trauma to greet Duke is that of a wailing EDF footsoldier. Claret from his truncated leg spurts over our lens as Duke lets out a telltale groan. It's a screenwash in more than one sense: Puerility appreciation now shocked back to 'adolescent', it's the first time I realise that all the hallmarks of a next-gen shooter seem to be here.


The shattering tiled walls and vulnerable, crumbling ceilings immediately show off the subtle destructibility of the environments, whilst the buzzing 'Detonators' signage and opulent foyer carpeting hint at Gearbox's attention to detail. And get this: The water (and, indeed, squirty blood) effects are as convincing as anything I've seen from Infinity Ward.

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