Duke Nukem Forever was, er, not exactly The King's finest hour. After more than a decade out of the limelight, Duke's stitched-together Frankenstein monster mash of levels and ideas took a critical battering from just about every corner of the Internet – ours included. Gearbox co-founder Brian Martel, however, thinks reviewers failed to consider one key ingredient: context.
"I think that if we were going to review the reviews fairly, no,” he told Eurogamer when asked if reviews evaluated the game fairly. "A certain amount of gamers today are not used to [a game in the style of Duke Nuke Forever]. It was what it was meant to be, which is a more old-school style game in what is today's technology."
"We've had this internal debate," he added. "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."
At the end of the day, then, Martel believes we should all be more appreciative of the fact that DNF exists at all.
"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,” he explained.
"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."
So Duke's back, and he's here to stay. Are you ready to forgive and forget Forever and give him a second chance?