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 Martel asked Eurogamer in an interview which has gone unpublished since August.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.