Friday, November 26

Nukem Til They Glow

As I attempted to prise dog food from my toddlers’ mouth, I was suddenly struck with memories of Duke Nukem 3D. It may have been her pig like squeals or even the soft gooey mess on the floor once I got most (?) of it out that brought on these vivid memories, all I know is that I have become a man obsessed on Duke. Again.

Back in the mid 90’s, when it was first released, my friends and I went nuts for it. We would play it constantly through the week, and then meet up on the weekends to tirelessly take out mutated pigs and aliens together. Once it was cracked to the original US version, we not only praised the gore, but also the strong language and girly bits; two aspects of adult entertainment that were quite new to gaming (and 13 year old boys).

Along with a warped and comedic narrative, it’s these two characteristics of the game that set it apart from the FPS releases of today. The majority of today’s leading games seem to place all their focus on realism and cinematic style; whether you are fighting humans or monsters, programmers ensure the weapons, tactics and locations are accurate and that the storyline is tight and engrossing while delivering a visual feast i.e. Tom Clancy or Halo series.

If a game doesn’t deliver both, it will place preference on one aspect, usually opting to create an aesthetically pleasing gaming experience rather than a cerebral one. I can’t think of any examples off hand but I bet dollars to donuts anyone reading this can think of one game that looked the goods but was just plain boring.

Duke Nukem’s plot was simple and masculine: aliens are taking over the world and stealing all the hot chicks. Shoot the bad guys, save the world and women, go on holiday. Nothing about it was complicated and it was just over the top enough to get away with its absurdity.

One game that comes close to capturing the essence of Duke would have to be Wet, however I didn’t overly enjoy it. To be honest, I was more attracted to the name and the artwork on the box than the actual content.

It’s very much like a Quentin Tarantino movie put into a game. The action is quite stylised, with the opportunity to run up walls, slide on your knees while killing enemies with a samurai sword and perform kills in slow motion. Wet tries quite hard to be something it’s not, however the laid-back nature of Duke is evident through the game’s design.

The Grand Theft Auto series draws on a couple of Duke characteristics; however the overt adult themes and use of offensive language and sexuality were what truly captured its audience. While GTA was violent and anti-social, it took these characteristics to the next level, which gave it a dark and gritty theme and therefore had to be taken seriously.

As mentioned earlier, today’s leading FPS releases are all focused on realism – Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Halo, Gears of War; even Wolfenstein 3D was brought into the beautifully rendered 21st century.

In the current gaming landscape, the idea of a comedic narrative seems like a joke in itself and an idea best kept off the major production table and pushed onto the Xbox Live Arcade kids table.

I for one would like to see a game that doesn’t take itself seriously and that I want to play. Not necessarily Duke Nukem 4 (let’s face it, that one is not coming...ever) or another version/clone of Duke 3D, but simply a game that says the wrong things while you do the wrong thing.

Do you need to have the realism in your games or would you also like to see a serious attempt at a game that doesn’t take itself seriously?

Next Friday on Dutch: Hold on to your hats as I possibly do something useful with a video game blog and actually review a game.

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