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Gearbox Says Duke Nukem Forever Wasn't Reviewed Fairly

by Phil Kollar on Nov 03, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Gearbox co-founder Brian Martel has spoken out about the problems he saw in the reviews of Duke Nukem Forever and why he thinks some people were disappointed with Duke's return.

It's been several months since the once-thought-dead Duke Nukem Forever came back from the grave and was released by Gearbox to some heavily mixed reviews. Speaking with Eurogamer earlier this year, Martel said of negative reviews, "It's pretty obvious that people were using it in some ways to kind of use it as a soapbox or whatever." Martel claims that most reviewers didn't review the game fairly, saying it "was what it was meant to be, which is a more old-school style game in what is today's technology."

Martel went on to compare Duke Nukem Forever's style of game design to the original Half-Life, asking, "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."

To his credit, I think Martel is right that if Half-Life were released in exactly the same form it exists in today, it probably wouldn't be reviewed quite as well. Standards and expectations change with each generation, and though I might still look back on and enjoy playing Half-Life thanks to nostalgia, that doesn't mean the average reviewer would. But I also don't see that as an excuse for releasing a game with heavily dated design and mechanics at full price and expecting people to review it as if it were coming out 10 years ago.

Martel goes on to explain how DNF wasn't really a Gearbox game the way the next Duke Nukem will be:

"When and if another Duke comes out it's going to be more consistent with what I think people would expect out of a Gearbox product. But this is the vision that 3D Realms had and that's awesome. It's just great that the world gets to see it.... I can guarantee it won't take 15 years to see another."

You can read our review of Duke Nukem Forever and decide for yourself whether or not you think we were fair.