Boomer shooter fans waited sixteen years for Duke Nukem Forever to shed its chrysalis, and the results were less than thrilling. Now, more than a decade after the game's belated 2011 release, footage of a 2001 build of the game has emerged online, and — as you might expect — it looks quite a bit different than the final product.
Duke fansite Duke4 has the details of the leak, which was posted to 4chan over the weekend. The leaker claims to have a full build of the 2001 version of the game and posted clips of gameplay footage in order to back up their story.
Parts of the game that were shown off in the 2001 E3 demo of the game are fully playable, the leaker says, as well as major chunks of content that have never been shown publicly. 3D Realms co-founder George Broussard all but confirmed the leak's legitimacy on Twitter, though he stated that fans should check their expectations.
The real deal — The leaker claims to have access to not only the build's editor but also its full source code. They further state that they will leak all of this content in June. Theoretically, this would allow the very active Duke Nukem modding community to mess around with it. Frankly, a mod-engineered version of Forever would be far preferable to the real thing. We'll have to see if that actually happens, though, as promises of future leaks of this variety often fail to pan out.
While it's hard to judge without playing it for ourselves, judging by the clips, this version of Duke Nukem Forever leans a lot closer to the formula established by the classic Duke Nukem 3D. It bears a strong resemblance to other popular PC first-person shooters of the day, particularly the Soldier of Fortune series. Overall, while it certainly doesn't look as impressive as the original Halo, it's fair to say that, if this version of the game had been released in the early ‘00s, it probably would've fared better than the hacked-together game we got in 2011.
3D flop — If you aren't familiar, Duke Nukem 3D was originally announced by developer 3D Realms in 1997, which makes its 14-year development cycle one of the longest in video game history. Rumors have long swirled about the reasons for its many delays, including an unwillingness to commit to a single engine, a development team that was too small for the task, and an office-wide taste for popular MMORPGs.
If you're a Duke-head who simply can't wait for June to roll around — we recommend checking your expectations for that, too — we suggest playing Duke Nukem Forever 2013, a fan mod that takes the concepts from early Forever trailers and puts them into Duke Nukem 3D. It's probably the best version of the game we're ever going to get, so enjoy it. Alternatively, you can just replay the L.A. Meltdown episode from Duke 3D, because that’s really all anybody remembers anyway.