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Sure sign of the apocalypse: Duke Nukem Forever is complete

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It’s been the butt of geek humor for more than a decade, considered the ultimate example of vaporware and game-industry excess. Nevertheless, the seemingly impossible has happened: Duke Nukem Forever has been declared complete and its code shipped to manufacturing.

The sequel to 1996′s first-person shooter Duke Nukem 3D has been in development for more than 14 years. It was first announced in 1997, but a series of technology missteps caused delay after delay. Neowin.net has the historical details:

It’s been a long, long time since the game’s original developer 3D Realms started working on the game. It first showed off screenshots (using id Software’s Quake 1 engine) back in 1997, and in 1998 it actually showed a demo at E3 behind closed doors. Just a few weeks after E3 1998, 3D Realms announced it had switched over to using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to make the game. The next screenshots and a gameplay video were released in 2001, again at E3. After that there was almost nothing released from 3D Realms about Duke Nukem Forever even though the game was still in development.

In 2009, 3D Realms and the game’s publisher 2K Games got into a court battle over the rights to Duke Nukem Forever that caused 3D Realms to lay off its internal development team. Many of those team members decided to keep working on the game at their homes under the Triptych Studios banner. Gearbox Software, founded by former 3D Realms team members, then got involved. In 2010 3D Realms settled its dispute with 2K Games, and in September 2010 Gearbox revealed that it had bought the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise. Gearbox announced that it would complete Duke Nukem Forever with Triptych Studios and Piranha Games (who are handling the multiplayer portion).

For years, Duke Nuke Forever topped Wired’s Vaporware of the Year list, and the 2009 implosion at 3D Realms seemed to have killed off the title.

But Duke just isn’t that easy to kill. On Tuesday, Gearbox announced the game’s completion on its Twitter account.

I got to play Duke Nukem Forever briefly during a visit to Dell’s meeting suite at CES in January. The graphics were impressive and the gameplay was a blast. It was a good sign that, when I finished my turn playing on a high-end Alienware system, I wanted more.

While its premise by now is a videogame cliché – a square-jawed hero uses outrageous weaponry and his wits to save the planet from slavering alien hordes – it’s important to note that Duke is the character that helped inspire the cliché.

You can expect this installment in the series to be as outrageous as the earlier versions. As you can see in this semi-NSFW trailer video, there are naked women, an incredible amount of blood and gore and, of course, Duke’s trademark potty humor.

The game will have instant appeal to pimply-faced boys and those who wish they still were. It’s probably going to irritate everyone else. Duke Nukem Forever is decidedly not politically correct.

But then, Duke never was.

The game will be available for the Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms starting June 14 in the U.S. Other countries get it on June 10. Those who pre-order the game will get early access to a demo to be released June 3.

The Windows version will sell for $50, while the console releases will be $60.

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Dwight Silverman | Techblogger, social media manager

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