Gearbox Co-Founder: Duke Nukem Forever Wasn’t Reviewed Fairly

In an interview with Eurogamer (which was conducted during Gamescom earlier this year and has yet to be published on the site in its entirety) Gearbox co-founder Brian Martel indicated his belief that Duke Nukem Forever was not reviewed fairly. He argues that some reviewers may have used the game as a chance to "soapbox" and that "everybody should really be thankful that it existed to some degree at all."

Looking back at the reviews Martel said that Gearbox wished that the "reviews were a little less caustic" and didn't understand where "some of the anger came from."

When asked if he thought that the game was reviewed fairly Martel said “I think that if we were going to review the reviews fairly, no." He also felt that some players just didn't get the old school vibe of the game or that Gearbox adhered as closely as it could to 3DRealms' original vision for it.

To make his point, Martel compared DNF to Half-Life.

"We've had this internal debate," he revealed. "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."

Martel also acknowledged that DNF's subject matter, characters and settings were caustic in some ways and could have been softened by Gearbox prior to release.

"It is a caustic game in some ways, so maybe in some of that respect it could've been softened," he added. "But it's [3D Realms'] vision and people should understand that in a world where we embrace the creator's vision for something, we let that go. We let that be what it was supposed to be. And that is the team's vision. 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. Because it really would've just gone away."

Finally Martel said that DNF was not a Gearbox game and that when they make another game in the series it would be consistent with the kind of games Gearbox makes. He also said that it wouldn't take another 15 years to see a new Duke Nukem game.

"I can guarantee it won't take 15 years to see another," he said. "We love the IP and I think there are a lot of people that really love it. You just have to make sure the character is something that people can love as well.

Source: Eurogamer

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    ddrfr33k says:

    You know, I think the problem was that it suffered from inflated expectations.  When I rented it, I went in with minimal expectations and planning on something unplayable.  Honestly, it wasn't nearly as bad as some people make it out to be.  It certainly wasn't game of the year material, but it wasn't sludge.


    It was simply over-hyped.  13 years can do that to a game.

  2. 0
    madman says:


    Comparing DNF to Half life is stupid. Half Life was developed by a startup company for two years and the result blew every other FPS out of the water. By the way it was released while DNF was still in development. Would Half Life get the same scores if it came out today instead of 1998?
    Probably not, but i didnt play it til 10 years after it came out and, so there was no nostalgic element for me and I still enjoyed it. That is because even if all its innovations are now standards of FPS games, it is still a fun game on its own.

    The case against DNF is that 3D Realms announced it early and kept reworking the design each time a ground breaking FPS came out, and didnt think to just focus on finishing off what it already had, or even to just cancel the game all together and start all over again with a new Duke. The result was obviously less than satisfactory and saying that customers should be glad the game is out after 14 years shows a lot of contempt. My IT teacher has a saying that goes like this " There is no prizes for effort".


  3. 0
    Algus says:

    What's the deal with all these game publishers complaining about how their games got reviewed lately.  There isn't some conspiracy against you dude.  This is what happens when you make a bad game.

    Yes, we're glad DNF came out.  To bad what you basically made was a rush-job budget game to get it onto shelves and tried to charge full price for it.  Welcome to Angry Consumer Central. 

  4. 0
    CK20XX says:

    It's not just that its polish was sloppy; it was also genuinely tasteless.  In Duke Nukem Forever, Duke finally plummeted from parody character to parody material, and that's putting it mildly.  Meanwhile, the soul of what Duke should be lives on in the body of one Sam "Serious" Stone.  Serious Sam is the new Duke Nukem.

  5. 0
    Euly says:

    The only complaint Martel can legitimately make is that the Gearbox faced an impossible challenge to effectively recapture Duke Nukem's fan base. Even if the ideas of Martel and the rest of Gearbox are largely misunderstood, he's still making an appeal to emotion fallacy by charging that DNF's reviews are undiscernibly "caustic." His fallacy is emphasized by fact that he implies that the gaming community is an ochlocracy that systematically gave DNF biased reviews, as if we all held a public meeting and decided to be collectively unfair. The anger the community has is likely from the disproportional hype versus final product, resulting in disappointment.

    Duke Nukem Forever cannot be compared to Half-Life because it's not a debut title. Half-Life wasn't severely overdue, didn't expect it's fan-base to worship it, and didn't have a genre full of examples of what not to do.


  6. 0
    Vake Xeacons says:

    Um…he's comparing a [fairly] new game to a 13 year old classic? Shouldn't he be comparing it to its sequel? Oh wait, comparing DNF to HL2 would make it look even worse. Now, how about taking some lessons from Valve, about keeping a 13 year old franchise fresh and up to par? You might do better next time. If there is a next time. Instead, it seems Gordon's replaced Duke as the head of the "Forgotten Shooter's Anonymous."

  7. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    Fair review:

    "Even as I played, that part of me that takes an almost sexual joy in ruining other people's fun turned upon myself and said that "Yahtzee, you and I both know that you have pushed games off subway train platforms when they had less problems than this." "Oh, God, you're right. There's just no excuse for loading times this long unless you're a fucking removals van."

    You know what, if I didn't know the history of this game, I would have said it seemed a bit rushed. It's not just the gameplay attitudes that have come from ten years ago. They seem to have brought some of the graphics technology along for the ride. The textures are low-quality, the levels are dull, and the frame-rate somehow still manages to chug like your mum at the bacon buffet. On top of that, the console controls are clunky and difficult, which leads to many frustrating deaths, but fortunately the loading screens will give you plenty of time to calm down, make a cup of tea, perhaps read that book you've been meaning to get into."

  8. 0
    Thomas Riordan says:

    So this is the excuse they're using? How sad that this is what game companies have to resort to. The players just don't understand. The game isn't buggy and it doesn't suck, the players just don't understand.crying

    We understand that a FPS shouldn't have weapons that miss the target 95% of the time at point blank range. How is it even remotely possible to miss an 8 foot monster with a shotgun at point blank range when aiming right at it? We understand that Duke Nukem should be a real man's man not some punk bitch that's reduced to giving into demands of punk teenagers just so they get out of his throne. We understand that low quality textures should not take 90 seconds and up to load in this day and age when full high quality worlds can be rendered in less than a minute. We understand that useless information on said loading screen only further aggrivates us. We understand that "if you're getting shot move out of the way" is not useful information. We understand that games should be fun, not so horrible that given the choice of continuing playing or slamming your man bits in the car door, the second seems like the more enjoyable option.

    And this is from someone who was foolish enough to rent this gem after reading the bad reviews going maybe they're wrong and it's not that bad. I so hate being wrong.

Leave a Reply