Blowback on a Nukem-lear scale

I went into my Duke Nukem Forever review expecting a bit of blowback. The Shacknews community has a long history with the game, and I knew my review wasn’t going to be positive. At 300 comments and counting, I’d say my predictions were pretty spot-on. So in the spirit of answering concerns in a controlled environment, I figured I’d address some of the feedback I’ve seen floating through the comments section. Not that I’m really expecting our readers to see this, because I don’t think anyone really reads this blog.

Why review the 360 version? PC version is better.

2K sent Shacknews the 360 version and that’s the version they sent me. That’s how review copies work. We presume the copy they send is the copy they want reviewed.

As for the PC version being better, sure. It probably is, to some degree. But, I was pretty careful only to make casual mention of some of the problems I suspected were platform-specific. Things like load times or ugly textures were minor gripes at most, and really not the focus of the review. The bigger issues are endemic to the core design of the game. Frankly, none of that would change no matter what platform I played on.

Xav should’ve written this review!

Sorry I can’t be more like Xav, dad!

Anyway, Xav stands behind the review, but is planning on installing the PC copy and reporting back with any significant findings. My money is on his reaction being, “yep, it’s bad,” which will be followed a flurry of feedback calling him an idiot.

Why didn’t you mention X, Y, or Z that I enjoyed?

Because my job as a reviewer isn’t to list all the good points and bad points and then weigh them to decide if I like it. Reviews are subjective, and at Shacknews we try to capture how it felt to play the game. In this case, it felt uninteresting and bland, and I wasn’t having fun. So I reflected on that and wrote my review to explain why.

I did outline a few things I enjoyed about the game. There just weren’t very many of them. I actually think I was a good deal kinder to the multiplayer than a lot of other reviews I’ve read.

But if you enjoyed the game on the whole, good for you. I don’t begrudge people their enjoyment of games. Be happy that you enjoyed it and don’t let my opinions ruin that.

You expected some amazing game

I expected it to be stupid fun, and it wasn’t stupid fun.

Why compare it to modern shooters?

This is actually something to address seriously. Some people interpreted my use of the phrase “modern FPS market” to mean “Call of Duty.” Specifically, I was referring to “shooters that are currently on the market.” It was in a paragraph about how creative weaponry is a hallmark of the Duke series, and they dropped the ball on this one. If I were referring to shooters like Call of Duty, which use actual weapons, my comparison regarding creative weaponry makes no sense. I was actually thinking of games like Resistance and Singularity — lesser-known shooters, but ones that offer some interesting weapon variety.

This review is poorly written

Not to toot my own horn, but I judge my own work pretty harshly. I wouldn’t call this piece immaculate, but I thought it was one of my better-written reviews to date. Disagreement /= poorly written.

Seriously, though, a lot of readers did seem to get the review and understand where I was coming from. And the naysayers can keep on saying some nay if they want, that’s fine. I’m proud of the review. Plus Jeremy Parish, one of my game writing icons who always has impeccable use of language, complimented it! He bundled it with a valid question about one of my word choices, but that’s just because he’s a much better writer than me.

Off the subject of Duke Nukem Forever, one of my freelance pieces went live today at 1UP: Return of the Garage Developers.

And at the off-chance that someone reads this without reading my Twitter or Facebook accounts, I’m currently soliciting feedback from gamer parents for a feature story I’m writing. Hit me up and I’ll share the details.

  • I don’t often play MMOs, but permadeath sounds like an idea that will almost instantly collapse and the developers will have to go back on it. Or offer a pay solution. More likely the latter.
  • I kind of hate giving LulzSec any exposure these days. I’m wondering if editorial is going to make a decision to just stop covering their hacks after a while.
  • Sounds like the Wii U is a bit more powerful than the 360/PS3, but not extremely so. I half-wonder if this means some developers will make it lead platform so they can downscale for the other two. Probably not, with so little life left in the current console cycle. Old habits die hard.
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