Hail to the king?

Nearly 14 years from when first conceived, Duke Nukem Forever shambled onto PCs and consoles early this month and was met with sea of negative reviews. Taking a handful of creditable sources, the average score is around 40 per cent which doesn’t say a lot for the quality of the game. However it somehow managed to top the UK all format charts in a mere weekend, beating what is confidently positioned at the other end of the maturity scale, L.A. Noire and sales are predicted to go well above 1.5 million units. The US wasn’t so forgiving as its first day sales have been called mediocre at best but Duke Nukem Forever is still being seen as a success. Only monetarily speaking mind you.

Duke’s saviours, Gearbox Software, took the game from the shady back alley of broken dreams and finished off what 3D Realms started so for them, the high sales figures are a comforting achievement. Even more so when you think that Duke Nukem will almost definitely become a revived franchise. Gearbox wouldn’t have taken on such a turbulent property if they didn’t intend to make at least one or two more games. Randy Pitchford, ceo of Gearbox, tweeted his pleasure over the success of DNF and gave a little dig at reviews at the same time. He said (via VideoGamer): “With sales data, It seems like *customers* love Duke. I guess sometimes we want greasy hamburgers instead of caviar…”

Fair point. Sometimes we do want greasy hamburgers, we want those games that play to our most immature desires and are almost embarrassed to admit liking it. But there’s a massive difference between greasy hamburgers and out-dated mechanics and concepts. I’ve not yet played DNF but intend to soon although when critics who you trust tell you a game is terrible, chances are it will be. And it’s such a shame when Duke Nukem 3D was so good. Back in the nineties, it did things few other games tried and it sounds as if Duke Nukem Forever is still doing things few other games do. But this time, it’s because no-one wants them anymore.

What will be most telling is what happens when the initial nostalgic hype dies down. Will gamers still be buying DNF in droves or will it become a dominant feature of bargain bins and pre-owned aisles?

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8 thoughts on “Hail to the king?

  1. I having been gaming since the 386 DNF is a terrific game! Glad I bought it and who can go off critics, play for yourself, decide for yourself

    • Very valid point. I do intend to play it very soon and why I tried not to sound like I had completely made up my mind on DNF though when I do I can’t help but think of all the terrible reviews. You never know, that may actually make the game an even bigger surprise!

  2. I’ve racked up 30 hours playing it. As for the graphics you get used to it like you do with any game and your mind fills in the rest. I’m running it maxed out on a I5 750 with only a 8800 GTS to fill in the blanks. All looks superb (to me) until you get to the bits where it really jars like destroyed scenary. I assume either the engine they used was quite antiquated or the artists weren’t very imaginative with depicting broken concrete. I didn’t like the XBOX live style concessions at first but the achievements, challanges and ego boosters do actually make a decent reason to replay certain sections over and over again and also the multiplayer. I will admit that certain sections are infuriating throwbacks to a bygone age that many critics have picked up on but once your through them ‘out of sight out of mind’ as they say. Although the constant “where the hell do I go now?” is found thoughout the SP campaign. I can see why the critics hated this game in comparison to the current crop of FPSs but it isn’t actually a bad game all told and I find it quite enjoyable. Would I have paid £30 for it if it didn’t have Duke Nukem in the title … probably not.

    • Interesting opinion there, thanks for sharing! I think the last point you made is very appropriate though. That if it didn’t have the name Duke Nukem on it then you probably wouldn’t have paid £30 for it. Maybe the critics wouldn’t of slated it so much if it launched as a budget game?

      • Well the reality is if it didn’t have Duke Nukem in the title and the game had recieved the same critical ravaging then there would be no reason to buy it for £9.99 either. People are reviewing it as Duke Nukem Forever and it isn’t living up to there expectations. The critics grew up with the original so they were always going to be a tough crowd to win over. Gearbox had it ported to all platforms to maximise the return on the purchase of the 3D Realms intellectual property rights which on the face of it is fair enough. However, In this instance it proved to be a bit of wrong move as the 360 and PS3 versions chunter around with framerate issues and incredibly long load times. My colleague bought it for PS3 a couple of weeks ago and still has not got passed the early LadyKiller level because of the 60 second load times. He has better things to do than sit watching a loading screen and he paid £40 for his copy. If Gearbox had made DNF a PC exclusive they would be excluding the console crowd but at the same time this games requirements are so low that it would seem almost anyone with a PC could have bought and played it with little to no problems. Shoehorning it onto the consoles and then having it reviewed by console critics was a recipe for disaster. It would be interesting to see the average review score for the game if the console reviews were omitted.

      • All good points again. It could only really have done one of two things though. It could have come out and been the greatest game ever made or fail to live up to the massive expectations. From what you’re saying, it’s most definitely the latter. Or at least it was on consoles. But still, it sold relatively well and enjoyed the top spot in the charts so you can be sure of a sequel and one maybe better suited to the architecture of today. Like you say, paying £40 for something that doesn’t run nearly as competent as it does for a £30 PC version isn’t the best way to appease the masses so maybe it’s lessons learned for Gearbox with DNF. Another thought is whether the reviews would have been less harsh if it were a downloadable game for Steam, PSN and XBLA?

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