Gearbox Software bossman Randy Pitchford recently acknowledged what most of us already suspected over the years: that review scores won't be relevant to Duke Nukem Forever's success. After all, long-time fans who've waited along the sidelines all this time will undoubtedly go out and purchase the game as soon as it goes retail, whether critics love it or loathe it.
Still, Pitchford isn't sure what the reviewers will think, crossing his fingers for a hopeful perfect ten. "I don't know," he said. "I know what I'm feeling when I play the game - it's fun, and at any given moment I can't wait to see the next moment. Honestly, I don't even know how much reviews matter for this particular game. Because, I mean, what we're looking at is the deepest unresolved tension in the entire history of the video game industry. And it's almost historical."
He also said that he'd be surprised to see the game earn a review score down in the 7s. "Fortunately the game's good, I've played it, it's a great game," he said. "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."
According to Pitchford, what really matters is whether the player will be pulled back into the same unique experience they enjoyed in Duke Nukem 3D. However the problem Duke faces now is a genre flooded with clones based on clones based on clones. Duke Nukem 3D brought a unique style of action and wit to the PC back in 1996, an era when the first person shooter genre was still emerging as a permenant alternative to RTS and RPG gaming. Question is, can Duke Nukem do it again fifteen years later?
"What matters is if you have a good time or not, how much the experience [brings] 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," he said. "That's what really matters, and the scores - that's probably not going to be very relevant to the outcome of this particular game."
Duke Nukem Forever (finally) arrives on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC on May 3, 2011.