Gearbox make some great games. They also made Duke Nukem Forever, which was not a great game. Sure, some people found it enjoyable. Some people like being tied up and whipped, that doesn’t mean it’s a tempting pastime for most of us.
So the interview with Eurogamer that Gearbox’s co-founder, Brian Martel gave back in August is particularly silly. In the interview, Martel bemoans the low review scores given to the bad game, saying that reviewers were using it to “soapbox”. Yes, they were soapboxing about how poor Duke Nukem Forever was. Because it was not a good game.
Martel went on to say:
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
Which is an interesting question with a fairly simple answer: No, probably not. Half Life 2 is probably my favourite game of all time. It’s got some brilliant design and it was the first FPS that actually made me care about the narrative above just wanting to shoot aliens in the face. But it has been iterated on, its example followed and tweaked and probably even improved. Just exactly the same way Duke Nukem 3D’s example was built on in subsequent games (including Half Life 2).
The problem with Duke Nukem Forever wasn’t that it was an old game reskinned and playing on nostalgia. That’s not what it was. Duke Nukem Forever took all the frustrating elements that were forced restrictions at the time of Duke 3D’s release and put them in a game, adding the very worst of modern FPS level design and a seriously misjudged script that wasn’t faithful to Duke’s legacy (as I, and many others, see it) and ended up just feeling uncomfortable and immature.
If Valve made a new Half Life game (please!), I doubt they’d combine the naiveties of their past with the worst elements of modern FPS to do it. They’d probably build on the franchise and move it forwards. Otherwise, they’d get pretty low review scores too.
So, there’s Gearbox’s bad but, as I said at the start, they make some great games too. They’re also really cool people, as an emailed tip we received this morning shows.
Wishing to commemorate the life of his friend, Michael John Mamaril who was an avid Borderlands fan, Carlo (no last name given) wrote to Gearbox and asked if they would deliver a short eulogy for Michael who passed away after a battle with cancer at the painfully young age of just 22. Not only did Gearbox supply a eulogy, read by the game’s own Claptrap, they promised to feature Michael as a non-playable character in the upcoming Borderlands 2.
How amazing it is that a big company, as busy as they are, would take time and go to the expense of doing this for a fan. Great stuff, Gearbox.
The eulogy was available on Soundcloud but seems to have been removed. Our condolences to those touched by the loss of Michael.