Gearbox: Duke Nukem Forever reviews weren’t fair

Friday, 4th November 2011 00:49 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Gearbox co-founder Brian Martel has suggested reviewers failed to account for Duke Nukem Forever’s context when handing out low scores.

“Name another game that’s in a similar situation. This is a game that was around for 15 years and it went through a number of engine cycles. It could never be everything for everybody, right?” Martel asked Eurogamer in an interview which has gone unpublished since August.

The developer said the game “was what it was meant to be, which is a more old-school style game in what is today’s technology”.

“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,” he said.

“I think we all have a nostalgia and love for that particular brand. But 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.”

Martel said Gearbox wasn’t “quite sure where some of the anger came from” and accused critics of using review to “soapbox”. He explained that Gearbox refused to “soften” some of the game’s more “caustic” aesthetic because it wanted to remain true to the vision of original developer 3D Realms.

“We let that be what it was supposed to be. Gearbox made sure the world got to see what they made and I think everybody should really be thankful that it existed to some degree at all,” he said.

“Because it really would’ve just gone away. Is it a Gearbox game? No. 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.”

Duke Nukem Forever released in June after well over a decade of troubled development; it was panned by reviewers, holding a 49-54 Metacritic average across the three major platforms.

Thanks, GameInformer.



  1. Charlie Sheen

    game would of been good if it wasn’t glitchy.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Yoshi

    A review is a review no matter the games history… or rather how it should be.

    *cough* Call of Duty *cough*… *whistles*

    #2 3 years ago
  3. SaintRasmus

    Gearbox: Duke Nukem Forever reviews weren’t fair

    No they were too high

    #3 3 years ago
  4. daytripper

    should be ashamed, a grotesque waste of money

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Phoenixblight


    Gearbox didn’t make it so its not wasted money on that front. 2k gave Gearbox the rights in exchange of them to put the game together. Gearbox shouldn’t be getting dinged because 3drealms messed up horribly.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. daytripper

    i meant waste of money for the consumer sorry

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Phoenixblight

    Oh on that front, I very much agree that pricepoint was way too high for that game. It should have been 30$ if that.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. daytripper

    i remember my local game store were packing at least 30 copies away as they were trade ins after only a couple of weeks release, last time i saw that many copies set for the pre owned bin was pes soccer 2011

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Gigabomber

    The game was awful. Worst game I’ve played in quite a while. It wouldn’t have been good if it was half the length, but at least it would have been bearable.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. tmac2011

    wahhhhhhh wahhhh baby gonna cry cuz we got bad reviews wahhh. sorry but this duke nukem wasn’t that great at all, even the demo sucked. i got bored with it, i traded my copy in a week time of the release. going to the midnight launch was a waste of time.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. IL DUCE

    I rented it even though I had contemplated buying early on when I heard it was finally going to be coming out but since I ended up just renting it from GameFly, I don’t feel swindled or anything by Gearbox since I didn’t spend money for it…since I don’t hold a grudge against the game like people who paid 60 bucks for it I can judge it maybe a bit more fairly than others…the metacritic score it got should probably be 5 or 10 points higher…60-65 sounds about right to me…but either way, it did what it was supposed to…it was a Duke Nukem game that was in development hell and at one point completely canceled and still made it out…where they messed up is they probably shouldve only sold it for 40 bucks instead of making it a full priced game but there’s a point when there’s only so much you can do to a game that is that messed up and you are better off just releasing it or completely dumping it…Pitchford made a promise to deliver the game so he did…I thought the game was fine, I enjoyed the single player, it was what it was…

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Machinetti

    actually i gave the gaME A 7 with nostalgia included but i rated it badly afterwards because i kept getting reminded of it constantly on there annoying commercials which made it hard not to react upon!

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Telepathic.Geometry

    I seem to remember reviewers complaining at the time about how late they got the game code. They also all seemed to make a point of how difficult it would be to review that game as it has all that historical baggage. But at the end of the day, it seems that they reviewed it for what it was, a shooter released in 2011. Fair.

    This guy saying that they should have given them a break sounds silly to me. Game devs and game reviewers are not supposed to be pals given each other breaks, they’re supposed to be serious journalists reporting things as they see them, and if that’s how they see it, that’s what they should say.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. jacobvandy

    I thought I reviewed it fairly. It’s a [relatively] lengthy but so-so shooter, interesting mostly because of the Duke character and nostalgic appeal of the straightforward gunplay. Had a few genuinely compelling segments (like shrunken platforming in the kitchen) and ballsy disregard for political correctness (tentacle rape aftermath and violent birthing of aliens), but it’s tech is more out of date than its pop culture references and the bosses were usually boring/frustrating/tedious. Should not have cost a full $50, gave it a 72% overall. If anything I was a bit generous with the score… I agree that Gearbox has wrongfully caught most of the flak, though, when all they did was polish 3D Realms’ turd and push it out the door.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. osric90


    #15 3 years ago
  16. unacomn

    What I understood from that statement.

    “Duke Nukem Forever reviewers weren’t fair, they don’t like it. And it’s not like it was our game in the first place, it’s 3D Realms, they’re to blame, not us. Nope, sure not.”

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Talkar

    IMO the Half-Life series has always sucked. I am the 1% xD

    #17 3 years ago
  18. loki

    Yes, no fai, reviews was to high

    #18 3 years ago
  19. silkvg247

    I think they’re just genuinely surprised that fans didn’t buy and worship it purely out of thanks for it being released in the first place.

    I know it sounds like excuses, but I think he’s being truthful. There aren’t many ways to word this particular set of facts that wouldn’t sound like excuses. :)

    It probably isn’t their vision of the game, and if they stuck to the original IP because that’s what fans were asking for, then it’s a fair point.

    A gearbox duke set in a borderlands type game would be beyond epic. Hell, just have him cameo in BL2 if they now own the IP; or an unlockable character!

    Why not. :D

    #19 3 years ago
  20. viralshag

    I do think the game should have been a low price game from launch. It certainly wasn’t good value for full price but the actual game itself, on the PC at least, wasn’t *that* bad imo.

    It just wasn’t anything spectacular or even amazing and even saying it was great might have been a stretch. But I do think a lot of reviews were trying to be cool or edgy by hating on DNF. It was a 7 at best and a 6 at worst.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. TheBlackHole

    What a ridiculous thing to say… ‘it should have got better scores because it was technically an old, shitty game’.

    The game reviewed badly because it was a bad game. It shouldn’t get a free pass because Gearbox patched a broken game. If it was that broken, they shouldn’t have tried to fix it in the first place.

    The fact is, fixing this title was a prerequisite for Gearbox getting the rights to produce a fully-fledged, new Duke Nukem title and, as such, they had to do the best they could with what they were given. Sadly, that wasn’t good enough to show the game’s obvious faults and 12-year old roots.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. DuckOfDestiny

    “was what it was meant to be, which is a more old-school style game in what is today’s technology”

    Hahahahhah no, unless your call the Halo era “Old-school” then that is a heap of bullshit.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. DSB

    It seemed to me like most reviewers didn’t actually realize they were playing a 12 year old game. From that point of view, I can see why Gearbox might feel like they got a bad rap.

    But then it’s also pretty daft to release George Broussards black hole of time and money as somehow being worth the full ammount. I’m guessing Take Two and Gearbox needed to agree on a way to somehow make it viable. It should’ve been a 15 euro game, because it was a relic and a novelty more than an actual 2011 title.

    Finally, reviewers just aren’t very good at controlling themselves. If they see a halfway great game, then it’s a 9/10 or a 10/10. In this case I think it was pretty obvious that the reverse was in effect. Suddenly they had time to actually do their jobs and critisize something, and since they’re so bad at that, I reckon it went a bit over the top here and there, although a Meta-rating of 54 is perfectly within reason.

    Personally, playing it as a novelty, I didn’t hate it. It was funny to see things like physics puzzles in an FPS again.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. fearmonkey

    What made me laugh at certain reviews of DNF was how “offended” they were.
    What did they expect?
    Today’s baloney politically correctness ruins alot. We have R rated movies with much more intense sexual and violent scenes, but a mature rated game that has a hint of sex (Mass effect) people go nuts over.
    The reason, because games are for kids and kids are going to play them.
    I hate to say this, but any kid can go to google and type specific words and see more than any game.
    I played the level in the game where you encounter the octopus looking aliens, the scenery is interesting and my girlfriend couldn’t believe it. I asked her what is worse here than in a PG-13 or R rated movie? Her answer, yeah but this is a game………

    #24 3 years ago
  25. toniskeva


    #25 3 years ago

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