Most gamers are familiar with the character of Duke Nukem, either from his games or from his status as a memetic figure of the ‘90s. Regardless, Nukem is one of the most recognizable names among gamers; despite the commercial and critical failure of his latest title, Duke Nukem Forever, which flopped so hard, the entire franchise was discontinued. However, a former employee recently leaked some original concept footage for Duke Nukem Begins – the franchise’s canceled reboot.
Watch the Duke Nukem Begins trailer below.
The footage seen in the Duke Nukem Begins trailer, leaked by the original Doom modeler and director Gregor Punchatz, shows off a younger Duke Nukem fighting off an invasion of various aliens, using all sorts of weaponry at his disposal. This includes his rocket launcher, shrink ray, and even a freezing ray. While the trailer emphasizes Nukem fighting against an army of Pig Cops, at various locations in-game, it also reveals plenty of the gameplay mechanics that the reboot would’ve featured.
According to the footage, the game was meant to be played from a third-person perspective, with Duke being able to wield two guns simultaneously. However, unlike previous shooter games from the 2000s, which allowed players to aim both weapons at a single target, Duke Nukem Begins would allow gamers to simultaneously aim in two different directions and independently shoot at the targets. It was a genuinely revolutionary concept at the time of its inception, though we suspect its design would’ve required a separate shooting mode to prevent interference with the character’s movement controls.
At one point in the video, Duke Nukem is ambushed from behind, which signals the presence of hand-to-hand combat in the game. The character utilized close combat to disarm (pun fully intended) a Pig Cop and beat enemies using a previously severed arm as a melee weapon. As previously mentioned, other weapons include the aforementioned shrink and freeze rays, along with a rocket launcher and a footage segment that involves a jump pack – yet another iconic sci-fi invention made famous by the previous millennia.
The leaked footage is, in fact, a concept trailer created entirely from CGI, and while it looks good and entertaining, there’s no telling how good it would translate into an actual game, pointing back to the aforementioned dual aiming mode. However, according to Gregor Punchatz, the game would eventually see the light of day, despite the commercial and critical failure of Duke Nukem Forever, were it not for the legal battles regarding the character at the time of the game’s development.
Duke Nukem was originally a series of video games for IBM-compatible personal computers, which later expanded to games released for various consoles and more modern hardware. The immense popularity of the franchise, named after its protagonist Duke Nukem, managed to generate over one billion in revenue during the first decade of its existence but never managed to expand into other media. Rumor has it that Vin Diesel was once vying for the role of Duke Nukem in a cinematic adaptation of the video game, though we also heard that John Cena showed interest for the part. Unfortunately, it would seem that the fate of the gaming franchise befell its cinematic adaptation as well.