Gearbox: Duke Nukem Reviews Were Unfair

Duke Nukem Forever was, I thought, an absolute disaster. I was not alone in this. Yet Gearbox co-founder Brian Martel thinks the game's poor reviews weren't a consequence of the game being terrible. They were because reviewers were somehow unfair to the game.

"There were

towards the high and things towards the low, but the middle just didn't get any traction. It's pretty obvious that people were using it in some ways to kind of use it as a soapbox or whatever," he told Eurogamer in an interview, originally held at GamesCom in August but only now being published.

When he was asked if that meant the game was reviewed unfairly, he replied, "I think that if we were going to review the reviews fairly, no."

"We've had this internal debate," he added later. "Would Half-Life today be reviewed as highly as it is, you know, even today? As a new IP coming out with the same sort of mechanics Half-Life had."

"I think we all have a nostalgia and love for that particular brand. Obviously Gearbox got its start working on Opposing Force so we love Half-Life. But is the current gamer, would they have the same love for that? It'd be interesting. I think the same kind of thing happened with Duke."

Sometimes, even if you feel like the whole world is against you, you just have to take it on the chin and let it go. Before you start sounding a little crazy. This is one of those times.

Gearbox: Duke Nukem Forever wasn't reviewed fairly [Eurogamer]


    I thought that Duke Nukem Forever coped an unfair beating in the reviews. The game was good, not great, far from brilliant, but good, but scores as low as 2-3? seriously? Duke had its flaws, but it wasnt the mess that it was made out to be.

      No. It really was that bad. The game was physically painfull to play. I had to give up less than a couple hours in

        Well, there we go. How was playing the game physically painful? Was your controller jumping up and stabbing you? Did the disc fly out of your console and slice you into pieces? I'm not seeing how it could've hurt you so much. Clearly, however, attitudes like yours are why it got low scores instead of average ones.

          Exactly. It was an OK game with a good sense of humour, but the reviews slammed the humour for being too "Duke Nukem". It's not too Duke Nukem, it IS Duke Nukem.

          I thought it was stupid then, I think it's stupid now

    I understand where he is coming from. Emotions clearly did get involved, and that affected scores, and that's okay. What isn't okay is calling it a gearbox game, or judging it as a current gen game. All GB did was take a decade old design document and build it.

    Of course, the part about "todays gamers not being used to the style of game" is bs talking bs - it's exactly today's style of shooter. Boring, tunnelled, uninspired and riddled with pointless eye orgasms for no reason. Only difference is DNF was designed at the start of this (hopefully) phase, not the end.

    Half life wouldn't fare well today, but it doesn't have to; iin it's time, it was amazing and that is what matters. DNF, for many good reasons, did not, and I doubt it would of back then either.

      They didn't really even do that. They had all the pieces made, they just put it together and shipped it.

      Half-Life would still sell well because it was a game that was great. Good, basic mechanics, a great range of weapons, good story and for the grunts and assassins, rather deadly AI.

      DNF however was a bit of a letdown, probably the biggest was the complete lack of weapon variety. DN3D had about 12 weapons (even more if you include the couple of weapons that were exclusive to the different console ports) DNF had what, 6 weapons, and you could only have 2 at a time?

      The only good things I liked (or at least worked for DNF specifically) was the ego meter and how it was increased (And I'm not a fan of recharging health)

    It's funny he states all this crap about half life not being rated as highly as if it had come out today.

    Though the biggest load of crock in there is that gamers aren't used to the kind of game that duke nukem was.

    Except that's not the case in fact most of the issue's i have with it are because it was so much like every other cookie cutter shooter these days.

    2 weapons, linear area's, brown's oh so many browns

    The game was the same as every other shooter that came out this year. The biggest problem was that it was missing it's soul, it felt like it was shipped because they just wanted to get rid of it.

    Hopefully they can fix the issues in the next one. But they need to have a major rethink of how it's going to work.

    And i think the 2 biggest priority's are ditching the 2 weapon system, and introducing some non linear hallway shooter.

    Oh and maybe making the art asset's a little more distinguished. The Assualt troopers just sorta bled together as a brownish humanoid(when the pixel art of 3D looks better there are issues). and the Pig cops should have had some clothing on even if it wasn't actually cops uniform. Because again they seemed like a pile of brown/grey with some dark blue pants on

    The one thing everyone keeps over looking gearbox was given a half finished game and was told to finish it. a 10 yr old game to be finished for modern consoles. It was unfairly reviewed. It was retro game for retro gamers. they tried to adapt it for this generation.

    I'm sorry Mr Martel, but I won't wear nostalgia glasses to gloss over its problems. The key difference is DNF was released now and not 1998. In saying that, I enjoyed DNF on the PC.

    When you spend 15 years on making and hyping up a game, its obvious that the game won't deliver. Nothing can be hyped for as long as DNF was and be expected to do well.

    I'm surprised all the critics expected it to be "Game-of-the-Year-Call-of-Duty-10-out-of-10". I love their logic where if a game isn't "Call of Duty 22: Kill the Russian Bad Guy", then it gets a bad score. DNF was alright for what it was. I don't think I'm the only one that downloaded the demo knowing it would be average.

    The problem with the bad reviews on DNF is it looks bad on Gearbox... Gearbox didn't make the game, they finished it off and pushed it out the door... the game sucked because 3D Realms couldn't get it right after 10 years and were shut down because of it.

    I enjoyed playing the game, it was far from perfect but it really should have been a $15 game, not a full price one.

    I don't really think half life and duke should be mentioned in the same newsfeed. Half life is still highly playable to this day

    DNF was honestly the worst FPS I've played in a decade. It deserved itsd poor reviews.

    I wish the reviews had been unfair - at least then we might have had a decent game. As it was, DNF sucked. It just plain sucked. It wasn't funny, it didn't play well, it didn't look good, it didn't sound good and it wasn't inventive in the slightest.

    Nobody wants Duke to make a triumphant return more than me, but DNF was an embarrassment.

    Most reviews looked at the game as if it was actually created in and for this generation. That was the problem. The amount of times I read something along the lines of "in this social climate, the humour..." etc

    Let's not forget how people still seem to treat the game as if it was one constant uninterrupted development cycle.

    Gearbox, just finish Borderlands 2... no-one cares how craptacular Duke Forever is!

      ... and Aliens, lordy do I want Colonial Marines now.

    At least a few reviews were so venomous because they felt that 3DRealms' vision was disgusting. More than a few reviews mentioned Duke murdering a couple of girls who'd been raped and impregnated by aliens and were saying they'd 'lose the weight'. I think it's fair enough that people would dock something a couple of points for that.

      The girls were actually going to die in a gruesome Aliens chestburster fashion anyway. So it was a mercy killing.

    He's right about one thing: Duke Nukem was rated differently to all other games. With DNF reviewers suddenly remembered there were numbers below 7 out of 10, and because of that it is viewed as worse than the worst FPS'. But it wasn't. It was a bad game, but it isn't the worst videogame ever released, as many outlets portrayed it.

    Lol, blaming the reviewers? Duke Nukem Forever was truly shit. To say that reviewers were being "unfair" is just stupid.

    Something I thought when the game came out and the reviews were flying.

    Seeing all the 3s and 2s and 0s??? while I was playing it I thought "well that's not right."
    The game isn't fantastic, it isn't great, it's hardly good. It straddles the line between mediocre and below average. It deserved around a 4-5 at best. It wasn't filled with glitches or gamebreaking bugs, it was just unimpressive in every way.

    I think reviewers were just pissed off when Randy basically told every reviewer on the planet that their job was pointless before the game was even released.

    you know to be honest. Ive just played through half life again recently. with a graphical overhaul. it would come out pretty damn well these days. the game play is still solid for a game of its age and Ive lent my old Half life GOY discs numerous times to newer gamers who have enjoyed it just as much. Gearbox should of been more aware of how Duke Nukems release would go towards the new and older gamers. And the fact is they knew it wasnt up to par. and they knew gamers would take it in 200 directions of like and hate just like AVP. If the controls were touched up and the graphics had a texture overhaul. Im sure it would of survived some of the flak it received. But still they shipped it and then they realise oh hey the reviews are coming in a bit sh*t. Some reviews were to harsh I admit but the 4,5 and 6's were deserved. and it wasnt just the reviewers that disliked. retailers didn't either. I know it doesn't sound professional, but I know and have seen staff at my local eb warn customers of the games very mixed ratings and have openly said its a shit game to them. They didnt refuse the sales of course but when you go into a store. how many DNF speacil editions (the ones that include the busts) still sit on shelfs. Way to many saying it was a Cr*p game. Go dry Your eyes gearbox and come back with something worth your reputation.

      What was the name of the Half-Life graphic update you were playing? I wouldn't mind bashing through it again for the 2647th time with some new graphics to stare at. :)

    Despite the snark in the article, I agree with Brian here - DNF copped an unfair amount of shit. It wasn't an inspired game, but the sub average scores it got didn't truely reflect the quality of the game (which was average in itself)

    The game was about a 6, but let's be honest, 90% of games reviewers forget that there's any numbers other than 7-10.

    I stand by our score;

    Just blame 3drealms and that fat f@ck joe siegler - the end

    I like to think that Gearbox got sloppy code and half-finished assets for an old game that never got released. Then 6 months later they released the best 'HD remake' they could muster for a game that was never released in the first place.

    I'm glad they got it out there finally, and that they also now have the Duke license... but I dont think anyone expected it to be some kind of awesome piece of heaven on a disc. Even so, there were some pretty harsh and unfair reviews flying around out there.

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