Despite being some 10+ years in the making across several studios, current developer Gearbox Software has some high hopes for Duke Nukem Forever. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said that though he does expect the title to receive a wide range of scores, he would be surprised to see anything lower than a seven.
Furthermore, Pitchford explains that Gearbox isn’t as focused on the particular scores that Duke ends up receiving, but instead they hope to deliver an experience that engages the player from beginning to end. Obviously, Gearbox is still working towards making a great game, but they might not have taken on the most polished of products.
The interview comes form CVG and Pitchford himself, has had a chance to play through the game, and is very proud of the product the team was able to put together. He is so proud of Duke Nukem Forever that he expects the game to score favorably with reviewers.
“The game's good, I've played it, it's a great game. You're going to see a range of scores; I'd be surprised to see anything get down into the '7' range, maybe a couple 10s - you're going to get the range there. It really doesn't matter. Anywhere in that range - it's not going to change the results for what we're actually talking about.”
Based on Pitchford’s comments it seems like Gearbox is doing a combination of preparing for the worst and hedging their bets. It stands to reason that if a game were to be, as explained by its developers, a solid and engaging experience the whole way through, that said game would not fall below the 7 or so range on a 10-point scale.
Obviously, it is in Pitchford’s best interests to sing Nukem’s praises, but also, he wants to assuage anticipation, ensuring that no one thinks that this isn’t the very same Duke Nukem that went through years of developmental confusion. Essentially, as long as the player is having fun reconnecting with their old pal Duke, Gearbox has done their job.
"What matters is if you have a good time or not, how much the experience us back [to Duke's former glory] to those of us that remember, how much it introduces to those who weren't there, and how much it tells us about the next experience we want. That's what really matters, and the scores - that's probably not going to be very relevant to the outcome of this particular game."
From what we can tell, it looks like Duke Nukem Forever is a title that really is shooting for the nostalgia factor. Choosing to keep true to the spirit of the series, Gearbox isn’t going to be working any magic with Duke Nukem, like adapting the title to the more popular conventions of first person shooters.
Instead, Gearbox knew exactly what they had to work with and saw fit to finish what no one else could. Not only did they give the game a substantial campaign, but also, by taking on the Duke reins, they have established themselves as a developer who takes chances.
No matter how the Duke Nukem Forever saga ends — whether it’s with review scores in the high or the low range — Gearbox has proved that the impossible, sometimes, is possible, and Duke Nukem will never stay down.
Based on what you have seen of Duke Nukem Forever, where do you think it will fall on a 10-point scale? If Duke Nukem fails to reach an audience, would you blame Gearbox?
Duke Nukem Forever releases May 3, 2011 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.