Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I tried to offer a similar promotional deal when I sold my old games on Craigslist, but apparently that's a Class 4 felony in Illinois

The Collector's Edition of CD Projekt's forthcoming PC RPG The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings has been revealed by Gamestop. In addition to its more conventional collector's edition gewgaws and bibelots, this collector's edition includes a sculpture of the head of the game's protagonist, Geralt de Rivia. It's not life size, but it looks pretty respectably large. CD Projekt has repeatedly denied rumors of a planned “Ultimate Edition” in which the head will actually be animatronic and sing Cy Coleman's "Witchcraft" when activated, with spokesmen for the company insisting that CD Projekt's reported recent purchase of several thousand surplus Big Mouth Billy Bass motion sensors was “pure coincidence.”

I'm a big fan of the original The Witcher, which was easily the best RPG/unlicensed pharmaceutical manufacture simulator released by a Polish developer in the past five years, but this isn't for me; the current trend for increasingly elaborate and costly special editions just doesn't interest me much. I'm a simple man with simple needs. But if you're currently redecorating your home or office and have decided that the glowering visage of a battle-scarred albino swordsman, alchemist, and monster-hunter-for-hire is just what you need to tie the room together, opportunity knocks.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Planned Duke Nukem game suffers unexpected setback; in other news, water still wet

It seems that the planned Duke Nukem game for the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS, Duke Nukem: Critical Mass, isn't going to be happening after all. Gearbox, which acquired the rights to Duke Nukem from 3D Realms back in September, has apparently pulled the plug on the handheld system spin-off, which was being developed by Frontline Studios. Gearbox is reportedly still still going ahead with its plans to release Duke Nukem Forever next year, though if the 13-year history of Duke Nukem Forever's development is any guide there will soon be another indefinite delay when the head of the project decides to scrap everything to start over on a different engine, or the programmers are abducted for ransom by Columbian guerrillas, or a meteorite flattens Gearbox headquarters, or whatever.

What would have been Duke Nukem: Critical Mass will instead be released in modified, de-Duked form under the title Extraction Point: Alien Shootout, which has to be one of the most aggressively bland names for a video game since the days of Combat and Adventure on the Atari 2600. It sounds like it should be shelved alongside those generic boxes of cereal that characters on sitcoms eat when the network doesn't want to use a real brand name. They may as well have just called it Military Terminology: Science Fiction Violence.

Is anyone actually surprised by this turn of events? It's Duke Nukem, a subject I've had occasion to mention here before. If history teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that there will always be some sort of complication for anyone foolish enough to defy the natural order and actually attempt to release a new Duke Nukem game. We're talking about a franchise whose flagship sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, has been in development hell since 1997, roughly two-thirds of the character's entire existence. The franchise has spent those 13 years under nigh-perpetual siege, endlessly afflicted by legal battles, staff turnover, missed release dates, massive financial losses, wrathful angels with flaming swords leading plagues of locusts, etc.

I just wonder why the Duke Nukem series became this way, afflicted by enough misfortune to kill any other series several times over and yet seemingly unable to die. Did someone involved in the production of Duke Nukem 3D defile an ancient Egyptian tomb? Did 3D Realms raise the capital to make Duke Nukem Forever by selling bones looted from Indian burial grounds? Did the whole staff take take a trip to New Orleans, get drunk during Mardi Gras, and run into an old cemetary yelling, "Voodoo is total bullshit, and may the angry ghost of Marie Laveau afflict me with some sort of horrible voodoo curse if I'm wrong?" It must be something.

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