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Talk about a major bummer — Duke Nukem Forever, a highly anticipated title that has been in developmental hell for more than a decade, is shaping up to be one of the most mediocre games of the year, according to critic reviews.

The Duke’s latest adventure has earned a score of 50 out of 100 across 19 reviews on review aggregation site Metacritic for the Xbox 360 title. It has a score of 58 out of 100 across 9 reviews for the PlayStation 3 version and a score of 63 out of 100 across 8 reviews for the PC version. Most critics have hammered the game for being a mediocre first-person shooter (FPS) game that wasn’t the in-your-face attack on modern FPS games that everyone hoped it would be based on initial reactions to the game’s demos and trailers.

The game, which was one of the most iconic vaporware titles of all time, finally got a release date and went gold last month (and we’re pretty sure hell froze over around the same time). In the original 1996 game, the main character, Duke Nukem 3D, was a studly, cigar-chomping, and highly weaponized bad ass and struck a chord with young rebellious males playing games for the first time. The game was extremely violent and was controversial for its depiction of women as sex objects. It became a bit of a cult phenomenon, and expectations for the most recent title were extremely high. Essentially, the game was damned if it did and damned if it did not.

Duke Nukem Forever was trapped in developmental hell for more than ten years under Scott Miller and 3D Realms. While originally responsible for Duke Nukem 3D and the rest of the series, the game studio just couldn’t come to a consensus as to what to do with Duke Nukem Forever. The game was plagued with delays due to changes in the game engine and other issues. The game was finally stripped of a release date and the last gamers heard from the testosterone-bleeding Duke was a teaser trailer in 2007.

3D Realms eventually closed its doors after failing to complete the game after more than 13 years of development. And why not — after working on the same game for more than a decade with very little to show for it, the whole company was essentially an inside joke for the gaming community. The company finally shut its doors in 2009, and the consensus was that Duke Nukem Forever would forever be a vaporware title.

Take-Two Interactive Software — the publishers behind Borderlands and the Grand Theft Auto series — picked up the rights for Duke Nukem Forever from 3D Realms and handed the keys over to Gearbox Software, the company responsible for first-person shooter Borderlands. Gearbox’s Borderlands was pretty successful and garnered a score of 84 out of 100 across 83 reviews on review-aggregating site Metacritic. The turnaround time was pretty quick for Gearbox, which released a playable demo at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle in September.

Duke Nukem Forever comes out tomorrow for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

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