Friday, December 31

In case you haven’t played it: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction (Xbox 360)

As a long time fan of the Splinter Cell series, all I hoped was that Splinter Cell Conviction (SCC) was a significant improvement on the previous instalment, Double Agent. Thankfully, it was.

Cinematic and fluid, the story is told retrospectively through the eyes of Victor Coste, Sam Fisher’s long time friend and military companion. Coste is being interrogated by government agents in order to understand the events of the previous week, with game play unfolding as more information is revealed.

The game starts in Malta, with Fisher still mourning the untimely death of his daughter, Sarah. He is no longer associated with Third Echelon and is trying to live the quiet life. Fisher is soon presented with information about the events surrounding his daughter’s death and is lured back into duty once again.

In typical Tom Clancy style, this leads to a much bigger situation and results in a domestic terrorist plot within the United States.

Although SCC is a giant leap forward from Double Agent, it is still very different from the original game and the first sequel. Despite being a franchise about lurking in the shadows and being an effective and silent killer, the combat is much more full on and brought out of the shadows. There is a lot more unavoidable lighting and sometimes offers little to no effective cover to take out the waves of Black Arrow soldiers trying to find you (such as when outside the White House).

This was a major source of frustration for me due to the accuracy of weapons varying in different situations. Yes I realise this is an excuse used by someone who can’t shoot well, however, head shots from a distance were no problem; taking out enemies at close range was the issue. At times it took up to six rounds to drop an enemy. This was a problem that I faced too often and gave away my position too many times to overlook. As far as I’m concerned, a head shot is a head shot, and if I’m in range (according to the little red cross hairs), then the enemy should be dead instantly.

Furthermore, the AI was a little predictable, with enemies walking the same path every time, acting the same way when they discover a dead body (why can’t they be moved in this game? Aren’t I meant to be a covert operative?) and saying the same phrases whether there was one or multiple soldiers in the area.

New features such as the cover system and shadow identification system are both welcome additions but can be a hindrance at times. Apparently, take cover means to crouch. I spent most of the game crouching (and ultimately dying) because I’d take cover and then try to go elsewhere but be stuck crouching. Yes I should’ve pressed ‘crouch’ to correct it. Yes I should’ve learned after the first time, but I didn’t (and standing after taking cover should be a standard move). That said, Fisher does move quite quickly between cover and can effectively defend himself when in combat situations.

The new shadow identification system is an interesting idea. When you are in the shadows, you are invisible to enemies. To indicate this, the entire display turns black and white. In theory, this is a very cool feature – it is clear, simple and gives you the feeling of being submersed in darkness with a touch of film noir. In reality, it can prevent the identification of lights until it is too late and can get a little tired. In all honesty, it’s not that bad but it did get on my nerves at times. On occasion it even assists with the identification of traps, such as exploding BBQ’s or falling chandeliers, as they stay in full colour while everything else is monotone.

Outside of the minor issues, SCC is a great game. Its cinematic style is quite captivating and boasts helpful new killing features including a mark-and-execute system, improved stealth kills and an in-game points system to enable weapons upgrades.

The mark-and-execute system is a reward for hand-to-hand combat. Every time you sneak up on an enemy and kill them, you are given the ability to mark targets and take them out in a style befitting a professional killer. Some weapons are able to mark more targets than others and if you want to mark more enemies, all guns can be upgraded in-game.

This is done with points gained by performing tasks such as evading enemies after detection and executing stealth kills etc. This is a great incentive for players as all the moves are fairly simple and staples for survival within the Splinter Cell franchise. The stealth kills are fun to perform, with classic moves such as pulling enemies from ledges and dropping from an above pipe still proving to be entertaining.

8.0/10 - The fifth game in a stellar series, Splinter Cell Conviction is everything you expect from a Tom Clancy franchise. Challenging, visually appealing and well acted, it is one of the few games that makes me want to do better, rather than instil the feeling of having to do better. The storyline isn’t anything new however the method of storytelling (retrospective, cinematic style, flashbacks etc) creates an interesting flow of events. While some aspects of the game might be frustrating, they aren’t big enough to put down the controller and stop caring. Splinter Cell Conviction is a must have for any Tom Clancy or Splinter Cell fan, creating many hours of gaming in both the single player, co-op or multiplayer game modes.

Friday, December 24

A Patchwork Quilt

Patches have solved many a problem in the world of computers, providing a means of updating content, fixing bugs and making old games interesting again.

I’ve never been into the techy side of computers, only the pretty side. So in the mid 90’s when I received the DOS commands to modify and unlock the Australian version of Duke Nukem 3D, I was excited, anxious and scared that I was going to ruin my game and Dad’s computer forever due to a mistake in the code.

After enjoying Duke in all its unedited glory, I took interest in a CD of patches I bought with a PC magazine (these are the things we used prior to the Internet and all it’s free goodness). This opened up a world of game options for me and my friends.

One of the most memorable mods/patches was for Doom II, turning it into Simpson’s Doom. The game changed everyone into Simpson’s characters, with the space marine being portrayed by Homer.

As you shot your way through level after level, waves of characters such as Moe, Krusty and Barney would be taken out, each time crying out a renowned catch phrase. When Homer took damage, the expression on his face would change, as per the expressions of the original space marine.

Doom was modified by hundreds of people, with versions including Star Wars, Aliens and James Bond’s Goldeneye. This design aspect was included based on the number of players developing custom levels for previous first person shooters such as Wolfenstein 3D.

Today, most patches are just version updates or bug fixes, such as the recent Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit PC patch that solves the Quad Core CPU crash dilemma and weather effects. There are a multitude of games with version patches that are easily downloaded.

As a patch is essentially new programming information, one could suggest DLC from Xbox Live or PSN is the console’s way of providing patches and keeping up with the PC to ensure new games stay fresh.

Downloadable maps and weapons for Gears of War, Call of Duty or Halo 3 have added a new dimension to the multiplayer aspect of each game, while the Red Dead Redemption (RDR) patch helps prevent cheating and create a more civilised Free Roam experience.

I’ve never played RDR or used the patch, but as usual, its arrival has produced what seems like a fairly mixed reception. Some people love it while others feel it does little for the gaming experience.

What are your favourite patches, mods or DLC? Outside of provided tools such as Forge in Halo 3, have you ever taken the leap and created your own in game content?

Friday, December 17

A New Way To Sell

In marketing circles, when a company or brand promotes itself with a range of media channels i.e. press, radio, public relations, billboards etc, it is called multi channel marketing.

Sometimes brands delve into the world of movies and video games, creating branded content and yet another way to reach out to the consumer in an engaging manner.

This has been most successful for bands, especially with the creation of the niche Rhythm market. If you compare the number of songs from Guitar Hero II that were performed by the original band (and not just ‘made famous by’) to those of Guitar Hero 5, you will see what I mean.

By including the master recording, it means the song isn’t covered by a local musician and that the band and its management approve of its use. It also shows that the $40 billion games industry is a viable channel for releasing and showcasing music.

Further success for bands to prosper in games can be seen in PGR4, Burnout 3: Takedown and the Tony Hawk series. These games have a wide selection of music including punk, rock and electronic that can be selected to create a playlist to suit your taste and tailor your gaming experience.

This enables bands to become a bigger part of the game, with new songs being introduced via the gaming channel. Personally, I have either become a fan or a bigger fan of some bands because of this introduction.

In some cases I have also noticed a difference in my driving technique when select songs play in my play list. Some songs I enjoy a little too much which negatively affects my lap times while other songs improve my time because they motivate me and put me in the mood to win.

Furthermore, DLC for Burnout Revenge included cars from Alienware, Dolby, Monster, Xbox Live and even the band Yellow Card. This in game content is yet another way to reach out to a consumer and expand your brand to a captivated audience.

The beauty of this is that the advertising for each of the brands (Alienware, Dolby etc) fits in with the game and doesn’t feel intrusive. It enhances your experience and can make you feel more inclined to deal with these brands outside of the game.

This can also be said with the inclusion of actual car brands in games. Driving a Porsche, Audi or a Zonda through a course and noticing the difference between the cars, both in performance and handling, can create new fans for each manufacturer.

Upgrading your car with Spoon parts or Brembo brakes also influences real life purchases, especially once you see the results in a decent simulator.

What I find questionable is blatant advertising such as the Barrack Obama, Burger King or Gillette ads placed in Burnout Paradise. Although I can’t tell you if the campaigns were successful (or how successful they were), I can tell you this kind of advertising is a risky move that can be detrimental to one’s brand.

While Burnout Paradise was a fairly well received game, I don’t think it was real enough to introduce real world advertising. Games such as GT5 or Forza 3 should include advertising (either static if stand alone or dynamic if online) as this enhances the game play and creates the realism of racing on a professional track.

Subtlety is key in these situations, unlike the advergames of the 90’s (McDonald’s, Kool-Aid and 7-Up adventures), the recent Transformers movies (gee, I wonder who sponsored those...) or the Fall Out Boy video clip for Thnks fr th Mmrs (either I don't get the premise or you're trying to make an extra dollar or two boys).

What do you think about in game advertising or branded content? Does it enrich your experience or does it frustrate you enough to put the controller down?

Saturday, December 11

The Last Day - A Wedding Haiku

Today is the day
Two lives join and become one
After two long years

I've always loved you
But soon we'll sign some papers
Make it official

Rarely we argue
All of my faults, you accept
Almost too easy

Of weekends spent with consoles
Watched, and never judged

You knew what it meant
To find solace in fiction
For me, games. You, books

There is more to us
A shared desire to wander,
Learn, joke and converse

Your strong ambition
At times, intimidating
You make me so proud

With our boy, Bosca
We make a happy household
Hair everywhere

Now, please take my hand
Our hearts and will to combine
I'm yours forever

Friday, December 10

The Rating Game

Today is a big day for gamers, with a meeting of federal and state ministers discussing the possibility of introducing an R18+ rating for games released in the Australian market.

A hot topic providing robust debate among gamers, politicians, religious groups and retailers, the issue has been discussed for many years with no positive resolution for gamers; an outcome that simply leads to the purchase of uncensored titles from overseas vendors.

Although the argument has strong support from the Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, industry lobbyists and the general public, the key problem has been the position of ex-South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson.

Since his appointment in 2002, Mr Atkinson believed the introduction of an R18+ rating would not benefit society or protect children; instead it would make gratuitous violence and sexual content more readily available to them.

In a reply to a discussion paper sent to Mr Atkinson, he goes on to explain his position, citing the family oriented Wii console and games as proof that violence and gore are not required for challenging and entertaining gaming.

Whilst I can understand the opinion of Mr Atkinson and see his concerns, his views and arguments are flawed. For example, when discussing his concern about the new rating making it easier for children to be exposed to gratuitous content, there was no mention of parental responsibility. Are parents no longer meant to guide their children towards media that is suitable?

Additionally, the average age of gamers is 30. An entire generation of people have grown up playing games and continue to do so. The National Classification Code states adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want, so why are we unable to do so?

Thankfully, he was voted out of office in the March election and replaced by John Rau, who fully supports the introduction provided there are safeguards to protect minors from content.

The next hurdle is gaining the support of West Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter, who is under pressure from his party to block the classification.

Unfortunately it only takes one Attorney-General to veto the new rating. Hopefully Mr Porter will not succumb to the pressure and support the move, however even if he does, it is unknown how newly elected Victorian Attorney-General, Robert Sercombe, views the classification.

Almost one year after his initial discussion paper was released, Brendan O’Connor has compiled a strong case as to why a new rating should be introduced and is confident of gaining the support required to pass it.

Included in his argument is a study indicating that there is no indication that ‘violent video games have a greater impact on players than other violent media, such as movies or music videos.

In addition, there is a strong economic argument, claiming that an R18+ rating will boost the $1.3 billion industry and assist parents and adults in determining what is and truly isn’t acceptable for children and teenagers to play.

If the new rating is passed, it means banned titles such as Man Hunt, NARC and Reservoir Dogs could be released, while games edited for the Australian market such as Left 4 Dead 2, GTA and Fallout 3 could be re-released as the original version.

Furthermore, future releases of games similar to COD Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops may be given a stronger rating.

It is important to remember that if the new R18+ rating is approved, the Office of Film and Literature Classification would still have the power to ban games they believe are too violent or inappropriate, such as the Japanese game, Rapelay.

For more information about the rating introduction, visit R18+ Games Australia or simply search the Herald Sun or ABC News archives.

What do you think of an R18+ rating? Is it necessary and do you think it will benefit you in more ways than just free speech?

On a side note, when looking up lists of banned video games, Brazil banned Cat in the Hat: The Game. Granted it was for copyright infringement but it made me giggle to see it among titles such as Doom, Carmageddon and GTA.

Wednesday, December 8

In case you haven't played it: Star Wars - The Force Unleashed II (X360)

For all of its promise, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was a painfully frustrating game. You would have thought that one man with the Force as his ally would be close to unbeatable, but Starkiller was an overly fallible Sith/Jedi. Boss fights were brutal (read: cheap), and large-scale battles often led to many (MANY) deaths. Worse than that, SWTFU featured several painful (read: almost broken) platforming sections, and more quick-time-events than all of the God of War games put together (slight exaggeration, but you get the point). Based on the thoroughly enjoyable demo alone though, it sold more than enough copies to justify a sequel on all major platforms. To be entirely honest, I expected nothing but the worst from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, but after four or five hours I was happy enough with what I had seen.

The story is a throwaway What-If scenario that ends in ridiculous fashion, no matter which side you choose (I YouTubed the Dark Side ending and it is even more preposterous and pointless than that of the Light Side arc). What's more, the sole moral choice in the game is saved for the last twenty seconds of actual gameplay. There is no lead-up; players decide just before the credits role. I don't mind (probably would have back in the day) so much that the developers have taken some liberties with the fiction, because otherwise I would prophecise that the tale would have been even more uneventful. Restricting yourself to the period ending just before the original Star Wars trilogy begins should mean that some of the central characters in this game are safe from (a lot) of harm. Not really the case here. The greatest compliment I can give to the writers is despite the shallow Starkiller clone premise, the action moves at a fast enough pace that the plot holes don't really seem to matter that much.

The combat, save for some cosmetic changes, hasn't changed too much. Starkiller now has two lightsabers, but the combat works similarly to when he was equipped with the single weapon. His actions look more graceful, but there are no meaningful additions to melee combat. There is only one new Force Power (Jedi Mind Trick), and I think I used it about five times. Why would you bother suggesting to a Stormtrooper that they jump out of a window, when you can just pick him and his three buddies up and slam them against any surface (glass or otherwise)? That being said, it is still fun to charge up a Force Push (read: Star Wars-flavoured Hadouken), electrify foes, and dangle them over precariously high places. There have been some new enemies added, but they are used ad infinitum (and ad nauseum), and ultimately betray the developers lack of creativity. Players can now activate Force Fury, which is essentially an "I win!" button that grants unlimited Force Power usage for a limited amount of time, as well as invincibility and damage buffs. It takes a fair while to charge the Force Fury meter though, so it can't be abused too often.

Unfortunately, the uninspired platforming sections from the original make a return. None proved to be anywhere near as frustrating as those found in the first instalment, but they still felt entirely unessential. The level design on the whole for that matter, is fairly inconsistent. The first level, which is entirely unchanged from the demo, features some enjoyable combat scenarios, but is otherwise pretty bland. The second level, set on Cato Neimoidia on the other hand; is full of fantastic architecture, varied combat segments, and a wide palette of colours. The scale of the boss fight in this level is also reminiscent of that found in the God of War games. It is spectacular. The final two levels of the campaign are way too long, and only display brief glimpses of what could be considered good level design. 

As hinted at above, the multi-stage boss fights make a return as well. There are less to conquer this time around, and they are ridiculously simple. Even counting the final forty-five minute boss fight that fuses the broken platforming mechanics and easy combat into one powerfully-unsatisfying experience; I would have died about five times across all of these encounters. The standard combat is also markedly less difficult than that found in the first game, and contributes to the solid pacing overall. I've actually started playing through on the hardest difficulty (Unleashed), and I'm about a third of the way through. Sure I have died more often than the playthough on Normal, but I would argue that Unleashed difficulty in the sequel is about equivalent to Normal difficulty in the first instalment in terms of both frustration and difficulty. The campaign lasts about four hours on Normal, and while there is a challenge mode available afterwards, there is very little reason to come back to the title upon completion.

In terms of visuals, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is leagues ahead of its predecessor. There are several noticeable instances of screen tearing during cut-scenes, but some of the scripted sequences are simply breathtaking. The character models during pre-rendered sequences are particularly good-looking, but the weather effects and environments are also of far greater quality than that found in the original. While technically impressive, some of the levels are a little uninspired from an artistic perspective. The lapses in creative energy are most prevalent in the level set on a capital ship. The engine rooms of these massive starships feature quite the multitude of decorative (read: pointless) gears and obstacles. In direct contrast to the visual audacity on display, the sound design is very much understated. The cliched segments of John Williams' composition return, and you'll here the requisites screams, lightsaber whirs and blaster effects; in the end though, it all sounds like white noise.

5.0/10 - For those like myself, who expected very little from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, I often found myself surprised. There are flashes of brilliance in this sequel, but they are often obscured by some questionable level design, and almost complete absence of challenge. Some of the scripted sequences and boss fights are spectacular, and while not essential, should be experienced if you find this swimming around the depths of the bargain bin. This is a more enjoyable game than its predecessor, but that is a backhanded compliment if ever there was one. 

Monday, December 6

In case you haven't played it: Call Of Duty - Black Ops Multiplayer Review (PS3)

The Call of Duty (COD) series has had a long, and at times, chequered past. More and more people are starting to get into the series, and with the series now starting to resemble an EA Sport’s series, with yearly installations that provide minor tweaks at best; it is not illogical to assume that the trend will continue.

The main reason for the mass love of COD these days can primarily be attributed to the multiplayer section of the game. While the first COD instalment did not have a multiplayer offering of any kind, Call of Duty 2 blew the console gaming world away. Now you could actually play a decent shooter on a console, which reacted as it should, and that provided enough motivation for people to come back. The main reason for COD2’s dominance was the fact that using a bolt action sniper rifle was, for a lack of a better word, fun. Through the next four iterations, the prevalence of sniper rifles in any given game lobby, regardless of the game mode, was huge.

With the past iterations in mind, I would like to delve into the latest offering from Activision and Treyarch: COD: Black Ops. Firstly, what does Black Ops bring to the table as far as the series is concerned?

For a start, it has removed many of the extremely annoying features that Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) installed. I am talking, of course, about the infamous deathstreaks, which provided players with a boost should they die a prerequisite number of times. The deathstreaks included: Pain Killer (3x health for 10 seconds); Final Stand (instead of being killed, you will fall to ground and continue to be able to shoot your primary weapon, and stand back up should you survive long enough); Martyrdom (drop a grenade when you die); and Copy Cat (copy the class of the person who just killed you).

It also removed the following perks: One Man Army, which allowed you to change your set-up at will; Danger Close, which added additional power to any explosive you were using; and Commando, which allowed you to melee a person from further away. I can’t begin to explain how happy I was when, in the midst of my pre-Black Ops hysteria, I read that these perks would be removed. They were the bane of my existence, especially the combinations of Commando and lag, and One Man Army/Danger Close and the under barrel grenade launcher (read: n00b tube).

At the same time that I read these ridiculous perks were on the way out, I also read that Sleight of Hand Pro (a pro perk which allows you to aim down the sights twice as quickly) would not apply to sniper rifles. I don’t have an issue with this, as it means people who want to aggressively play with a sniper rifle (that is quick scope), will now actually have to have some skill, ala Call Of Duty 4 and World At War.

I have, at this point in time, played Black Ops for approximately twenty hours, reaching level 46, and am excited to prestige for the first time. I decided early that Black Ops would be the first COD game with which I would try to go “all the way”, and reach 15th prestige. On the basis of the time I have spent with Black Ops thus far (which is bound to increase significantly given I have a week and a half off!), I don’t think I will see this feat as a grind, but as more of a journey.

As Tristan has repeatedly stated, the new customisation feature of the game is amazing. I am truly enjoying “try-harding” during games to earn valuable COD points, which I will then go and blow on every conceivable attachment for the guns I currently own. I’ll admit that I haven’t really experimented too much with regards to guns. However, I have found that each of the guns I have used have their own pros and cons: with a high recoil for those with a fast fire rate, and low fire rate for those with high power. This is in such a vast contrast to MW2 it isn’t funny, where only one gun has recoil (the F2000), and makes sniping across the map with an ACR far more effective than actually using a sniper rifle.

Another high point is how the perks have been set up. There seems to be a more balanced feel to perks now, with players no longer able to sprint around the level like Usain Bolt, all the while moving like a ninja. Another positive that should be noted is the removal of Stopping Power, which requires players to be more thoughtful when choosing a primary weapon. Instead of choosing a weapon with a high damage level, which is then multiplied by the perk; they must now consider their comfort level with the gun, and develop a strategy around it.

However, the most gratifying tweak to the game involves killstreaks. In Black Ops, killstreaks do not stack. A major issue with MW2 was the fact that a person needed five kills (four using Hardline) to get a predator missile. From there, it was almost guaranteed a harrier and chopper gunner would follow, resulting in the destruction of entire teams stuck in a spawn spree of mammoth proportions. This strategy became extremely annoying by the end of MW2’s life. As kills from your killstreaks no longer count towards your next killstreak stack, it now requires players to actually kill people with their gun or equipment. Shock horror!

However, not all is perfect in Black Ops. During the first week of play, the lag experienced by many people was, to put it bluntly, horrendous. Case and point:, I emptied an entire clip from my Galil (an assault rifle) into a person using an SMG and I did not get the kill. The player then proceeded to turn and shoot me twice, resulting in my death and a few choice words exiting my mouth. This would almost always, be followed by Lisa getting up me for yelling. It was infuriating to say the least, and. I am happy to say that this is no longer a major issue (the lag that is, Lisa still gets up me when I get a tad excited). You will still experience lag on occasion, but that is to be expected in a Peer-to-Peer system.

An issue of greater concern is that of the spawn system. COD games have never been known for an amazing spawn system, but Black Ops is sometimes just downright confusing. Many a times I have killed someone, turned around, only to find the same person running around an approaching corner and spraying away, dropping me like last week’s cold. This isn’t reserved for Team Deathmatch TDM either. This has actually occurred in Domination, near one of my own flags no less. While I understand that developing a fully functional and rational spawn system is a difficult piece of programming, surely Treyarch could have come up with something better than the one which has been implemented.

Something that is probably a lot closer to my own heart than that of any of the other reader’s is the new sniper rifle mechanics. While I have no issue with SoH Pro not working on sniper rifles, what I do have an issue with is the whole two second delay once when you scope in where your bullets do not even fly straight. And I am not talking about a slight deviation either, I am talking about a major deviation from where you have aimed the crosshairs. While there have been a few people who have found a way around this, the new mechanic pretty much makes using a sniper rifle completely ineffective for those who are do not have a Bobby Lee Swagger level of proficiency.

But that didn’t stop me from trying the sniper rifle, and I am slowly getting the hang of it. Thanks to the new, and absolutely amazing Theatre Mode, I was able to hit this triple while playing Domination on Array, then make a clip of it, and upload it onto the internet. To a massive geek like myself, I almost wept when I saw my work on YouTube. So, I will leave you with this my ridiculously cool shot I got, and a recommendation:

If you have not picked up Black Ops, and you have a solid internet connection, do it. You will find a game that is enjoyable to all levels of players, and a level of customisation that surpasses that of many games available, some RPGs included.

As a side note, if you are struggling to get consistently good games in Black Ops, I suggest that you subscribe to a player called xJaws on YouTube. He provides tips and tricks on how to perform consistently, but more importantly, on how to have fun.

PS. Subscribe to me! I will try and upload any good little clips I get like this. If I actually end up doing alright in BO, I am even considering getting a capture card.

Friday, December 3

Gearbox Revival

It would seem my last comments on Duke Nukem Forever never arriving were a little premature. After discussions with friends and a couple of Google searches, it turns out that Gearbox Software have recently resurrected the project.

Officially announced on September 3 at the Penny Arcade Expo 2010, Gearbox stated they bought the intellectual property from 3D Realms and 2K Games and now hold the exclusive long-term publishing rights of the game.

Gearbox is the developer behind Halo, Half Life and Borderlands, providing an impressive pedigree to complete the game known by many gaming media journalists as Duke Nukem Forever In Development.

Duke Nukem Forever has now been in development for over 13 years, mainly due to staffing issues and engine changes and rewrites.

After Duke Nukem 3D was released, the original game engine, Build, was antiquated, so development had moved to the Quake II engine, then Unreal Engine in 1999. With everything full steam ahead, in 2004 it was rumoured that the game was to be redeveloped to suit the Doom 3 engine. This was neither confirmed nor denied by the developers, but would explain further extended delays.

In typical Duke fashion, the game has a number of in-jokes about its lengthy development, which is an issue that the gaming industry has continuously reminded the teams working on the game since 2001. As game trailers and footage from PAX 2010 have shown, Duke can be seen using a urinal for an extended period of time and exclaiming, “This is taking forever!”

There are a number of videos on YouTube showcasing the game, but as usual, it is difficult to determine what is real in game footage and what is not. Either way, I enjoyed the teaser trailer and the other in game footage, whether it is authentic or not.

If the footage is real, I’m looking forward to the game even more-so. Not only do the environments and enemies appear to be rich and detailed, the ability to utilise vehicles and effectively use cover are also a big plus and expected in today’s games.

Improved physics, such as those that enable you to blow up enemies in mid air and push them to the side is also quite appealing.

Duke Nukem Forever is finally expected to be released in 2011 on all major platforms. With Gearbox in control, will it be the final announcement or will fans be let down yet again? Only time will tell.

What games have you been waiting forever on?