The story of Duke Nukem Forever’s development appeared to be tied up in a bow when the game finally launched in 2011, a whopping 14 years after it had been announced. But the first-person shooter that was eventually cobbled together by Gearbox Software, crappy as it was, didn’t necessarily show the game’s whole story.
Arguably the game’s most famous trailer came at E3 2001; it showed off a bombastic, explosion-filled rupture through Las Vegas that actually looked like a playable video game, apparently rendered in that era’s version of Unreal Engine. This week, we’ve learned just how playable that version of the game was—with at least one of Duke Nukem Forever‘s original creators backing up its authenticity.
“A smattering of test levels”
The game’s latest leak, posted to 4chan on Sunday and widely shared by Duke Nukem fansite duke4.net, appears to be made of original 2001 code and assets. It includes a one-minute video of first-person carnage in a very Duke-appropriate environment of a strip club called “Slick Willy.” The sequence was apparently played and captured by the build’s leaker.
In addition, the leaker suggested that the build’s playable files, source code, and official map editor could be released in June—which would coincide with the E3 trailer’s 21st anniversary—and responded to various 4chan doubters by posting additional images based on their requests. These included screengrabs of the build’s file and folder lists, along with images from other sections of the game and a higher-res peek at “the redneck from the E3 trailer.”
Though this week’s video only includes three demonstrated guns (pistol, shotgun, semi-automatic rifle), the leaker suggested that nearly all options in the video’s weapons-list interface are functional, with the exception of “the chainsaw and the freezer.” It’s unclear whether the game files have been manually patched to work on modern PCs or whether interested players will need to pull out era-appropriate PCs with proper drivers, OSes, and hardware. (Optimistic retro gamers may want to pillage their closets for spare GeForce 6600 XT GPUs, just in case.)
Shortly after the video and its related screencaps made the rounds, former Duke Nukem Forever project lead George Broussard confirmed its apparent authenticity on Twitter, telling fans that “the leak looks real.” He said that while it may be playable, it shouldn’t be looked at as a game, “just a smattering of barely populated test levels.”