Home » General » Duke Nukem Forever Wasn’t Reviewed ‘Unfairly’: It Was Bad

Duke Nukem Forever Wasn’t Reviewed ‘Unfairly’: It Was Bad

Duke Nukem Forever Wasn’t Reviewed ‘Unfairly’: It Was Bad

Duke Nukem Forever wasn’t reviewed ‘fairly’, according to Brian Martel, co-founder of Gearbox Software. In an interview from back in August, published yesterday over on Eurogamer, the company top bod made his feelings on the reviews quite clear.

“There were things 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.”

I don’t actually dispute that point – some did use DNF reviews as a stick with which to beat the game. Most, however, did not. And obviously Martel is going to be protective of his company’s release, even if it wasn’t actually responsible for 99% of its development.

But here’s the main issue – here’s the dirty little secret that all of us journalists banded together and decided on before DNF’s release. Here’s the conspiracy in full… are you ready? Here we go:

Duke Nukem Forever was shit.

That’s it. Occam’s razor strikes again. The reason it reviewed so badly across the board is because people did not enjoy it. People did not enjoy it because it is a clumsily-made, haphazard mess of a game. Avoiding all of the moral outrage that many (myself included) whipped themselves into, ignoring much of the context behind it, the demi-legendary status of the character and whatever other mitigating factors we could take into account, we’re just left with that fact.

Duke Nukem Forever was a bad game.

But Martel makes a point that just confused me, and struck me as grasping at straws somewhat. He said:

“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.”

Coming out today, no Half-Life would not be received in the same way it was back in 1998. And you know why? Because that was 1998 and Half-Life exists. Let me explain: 1998 was different, we expected different from our games and FPS titles hadn’t progressed to the level they have today.

Second, do you know why FPS games have progressed to the level they have since 1998? Because of Half-Life. It changed everything. It was the great innovator. It revived a flagging genre (along with Quake, naturally). If it was released today it would be seen as quaint, it would be seen as old-fashioned, dull and derivative. It would be seen as ugly, pointless and something that should have come out in 1998.

It would have been seen as pretty much exactly the same as Duke Nukem Forever. Except for the fact that it’s a better game and has much less godawful misogynistic, unfunny content.

“Everybody should really be thankful that it existed to some degree at all.”

In a strange way, I agree. I do – I’m glad it finally came out, I’m glad it stopped being that awful joke everyone would rely on when talking about Things That Don’t Exist. I’m not glad it was terrible though. That’s something that Martel – and other people involved in the creation of games – needs to understand: as critics we are never pleased when a game turns out to be bad. Nobody wants to play a bad game, nobody wants something to fail from a critical perspective and nobody wants to see the sequel to a game they loved in the mid-90s turn out to be shit.

But Duke Nukem Forever was shit.




Similar posts

  • Hmm. Gotta disagree with you there a bit, sir. I played Duke Nukem Forever from start to finish on PC and genuinely enjoyed myself. Sure, it was clunky, sure it was dated, sure it wasn’t Call of Duty — but I’m glad. It was exactly the kind of shooter I wanted to play. I had a blast with it, no pun intended.

    Objectively, regardless of how much I personally enjoyed it, I don’t think it was “shit”. It was reasonable. It wasn’t brilliant, it wasn’t classic, it wasn’t game of the year material — it wasn’t even something I’d necessarily recommend to others. But it was competent. It did the job, relatively unremarkably — but in among its unremarkableness it provided a good few hours of fun to me.

    My objection to the reviews that came out upon its release were the fact that, as you say, they were used more as soapboxes, with high-profile reviewers whom I formerly respected beating on it with a shitty stick and accusing it of being considerably worse than it was purely based on content they didn’t like.

    Duke Nukem Forever did one thing brilliantly: troll everyone. And perhaps that was the point. In a massively lengthy blog post, I summarised the discussion some friends and I had regarding the game — it makes for interesting reading if you’ve got the time. Check it out here.

  • DO’G

    Pete Davison said @
    “Objectively, regardless of how much I personally enjoyed it, I don’t think it was “shit”. It was reasonable. It wasn’t brilliant, it wasn’t classic, it wasn’t game of the year material — it wasn’t even something I’d necessarily recommend to others. But it was competent. It did the job, relatively unremarkably — but in among its unremarkableness it provided a good few hours of fun to me”

    See the first three lines just doesn’t make sense. If it’s not brilliant, good but competent, then it’s a rubbish game right?

    “Sure, it was clunky, sure it was dated”

    again doesn’t this suggest it was a SHIT game??

  • Eino Taruk

    so it was good game but paned because of social justice warrior reviewers? Being misogynistic. Dier asshole, put you head into you ass and eat you shit, you huma watse!