Losing the original Duke Nukem Forever to the oblivion that 3D Realms was sucked into is one of the biggest tragedies in gaming. Even worse, Gearbox/Piranha’s attempt at breathing new life into Duke smelled like they brushed their teeth with old milk.
So of course, leave it to ‘the mod leaders’ Gambini and Mikko with invaluable contributions from Dan Gaskill and Lezing to right all the AAA wrongs!
Essentially what the team has done is take the original premise shown off in the trailer — aliens have taken over the Hoover Dam, join up with the Earth Defense Force and go put a stop to ’em — and remade as much as they could using the most popular Build engine source port. Obviously not every aspect the real Duke Nukem Forever was shown off in the trailer but this didn’t hinder the creativity of Gambini and Mikko. Most of the blips of action shown off in the trailer appear in some manner for the final game and it all comes together with a strong level of cohesiveness! Years ago you could have told me this was an official expansion for the original Duke Nukem 3D and I wouldn’t have questioned a thing.
The mod starts off with a cutscene to set the stakes. Many original settings from Duke 3D are shown off like the roof at the beginning of E1L1 and the Wham Bam Hotel. We take control of Duke while he’s gazing out the window of his Las Vegas penthouse observing the destruction plaguing the city. Before we go further, let me just express how thankful I am that Forever 2013 starts off with practically a pistol in hand and asses to kick. No corny ‘twins scene’ and a ton of exposition to dump on the player — just a man, his gun and the opportunity for gore.
From here you fight your way down through the casino, blasting bullets into baddies while destroying slot machines. A dependable air vent is exposed and exploring it drops you down into what I assume to be a dancer’s dressing room. First we sneak a peak at a peep show then snag a red card key. Onto the Vegas strip! Things get heated as swarms of aliens barrage the scene with bullets. Neon lights fill the sky, buildings surround your periphery as you coast up and down the strip. Thankfully, someone parked a truck with a ramp on it right in front of a broken down semi that blocks the way to the highway. Your mission? Find Duke’s chopper and JUMP THAT TRUCK!
Forever 2013 has you push through several different environments like the EDF base, the Grand Canyon, an old ghost town, and even a lava filled mine before making it to the Hoover Dam — all of these places were shown in the 2001 trailer. For the most part, the level design is pretty top notch. Most places you visit, with the exception being the mines, have striking features that prevent you from staying off the course.
Despite the memorable architecture, there were more than a few times my progress did come to a stand still during stretches of linear path following. Usually I just needed a bit of creative of surveying and the wherewithal to try something new — the exception being one late game puzzle that asks you to use a piece of geometry for platforming that would seem ridiculous. Looking back on this puzzle and it almost reminds me of how you could jump on the No Parking sign in Duke3D’s E1L1 to obtain the atomic health so maybe this puzzle was cooler than I imagined.
A few new enemies showed their ugly faces in Forever 2013, one of which being this Terminator inspired, death dealing sentry. These guys fire three projectile bullets in rapid succession and need multiple shotgun blasts to be stopped. Another for in the fray is the infected EDF soldier. A few types infected were shown off in the 2001 trailer, they were the ones with tentacles for heads! The source of this infection seems to stem from face hugging like enemies who pop out of eggs and kind of look like child version of the Octobrain. These little gloopy dudes also drop after killing an infected soldier and if you get to close to one, it will start to take up your vision and suck a large amount of health if you don’t blast it fast enough.
Duke’s arsenal only sports one major, patriotic upgrade — that being an Vietnam era M16 with an American Flag wrapped around it’s handle. When I wasn’t looking to gib every last soul in my path, the M16 was my weapon of choice. It’s accuracy and ammo count make it ideal for long range combat and stun locking enemies like that pig brutes so they don’t claw the hell out of you.
Forever 2013 doesn’t have a lengthy campaign but it does hit all the high notes. I finished my first play through at around the two hour mark and missed just about every secret it had to offer. On a second play through however, I got to the final mission in about 30 minutes and found *some* secrets I had overlooked.
If you’re a Duke super fan, experiencing this mod is a no-brainer. I’d even go as far as to say that Forever 2013 would be a great ‘First Duking’ experience for the Nukem 3D virgins out there just because it offers a well executed, self-contained and diverse set of maps that might sound more appealing to the gamer who still thinks Duke3D is a collection of city levels.
Getting Forever 2013 up and running is as easy as dropping duke3d.grp into your mod files since the game runs on a custom build of the EDuke32 engine. The original team has put out DLC for their mod — a three map pack filled with more excitement. As of last year, they even released a patch for their game that added a functioning speedometer for Duke’s chopper and have announced more DLC for the future.
A download of Forever 2013 can be found here: https://www.moddb.com/mods/duke-nukem-forever
Big shouts to the team behind this project, Gambini & Mikko Sandt. You guys rock!