I’ve said this in other articles and I’m going to say it again. Expectation gets you disappointment. Often times, it’s usually a persons expectation for a product that brings down their actual feelings about said product once they own it and this has never been more clear to me than in Duke Nukem Forever (well, or Dead Island, as I wrote here). DNF is a special example though, because-in the gamers defense-the game took like 12 years to come out so it was only understandable they’d expect something earth shattering. But it was almost like they expected TOO much from it, like it was going to end world hunger and cure cancer. I don’t for one second believe a majority of the people were mad at the game as much as they were mad at themselves for allowing themselves to think that it would be anything more than what it ended up being; a moderately decent game.
A few years back (and by a few I mean like 2002), MTV released a made for TV “movie” called Monster Island which was like Sharknado before Sharknado existed. It was a parody of old B movie horror/scifi films starring Carmen Electra and was called “atrocious”. However, it was atrocious because it knew it was a joke. This is how I view DNF. In a generation of gaming who’s color palette appears to be grey and black, where everything is so super serious that it makes the game hard to take seriously in general, DNF knew it was a joke and it milked that to its fullest extent. Monster Island was a throwback to how cheesy those movies were and that’s what DNF was, a throwback to how cheesy games were back when Duke Nukem was more relevant. And by “how games were” I mean “when games used to be fun”. Borderlands, Halo, Gears…they all have these super ultra ridiculous premises and take themselves far too seriously to be taken serious, almost on a pretentious level that screams “I’M IMPORTANT. PAY ATTENTION TO ME!” The games are fun (well I personally didn’t enjoy Borderlands but to each their own) but I don’t think they deserve the praise they gain just as DNF doesn’t deserve the hate it gets.
Our hypercritical feelings are half the problem now when judging things. Back in the day, if something was even moderately entertaining, it was a success. Now granted, I grew up playing stuff that wasn’t heavily story based but I also don’t think things like story became really important until maybe the PS2 and the original Xbox. Back in the day, if something was entertaining as I said, then that’s all that mattered. How fun it was, how long you played it for and if it played well. Now everyone moans about graphics, sound design, voice acting and a bunch of other things that I frankly deem irrelevant. I’m rarely taking note of graphics outside the first 5 minutes and then it all boils down to “how well does this play”. DNF plays well enough and it’s entertaining. As I said, it succeeds because it’s a joke and it embraces the fact that it’s a joke. As serious as Halo tries to make itself, I can’t TAKE it seriously because it almost shoves down your throat how serious it is and how respected it should be. It has this air of pretentiousness about it. Right off the bat, DNF admits it’s not a work of art (the first scene in the game is pissing in a toilet for god sakes), knows it has tremendous flaws but it acknowledges these faults and says, “Hey listen, we know we’re not a masterpiece and we have some problems but SCREW IT LET’S SHOOT SOME ALIENS!” You’re not bogged down with this ridiculous storyline with over the top dialogue and cutscenes explaining some stupid backstory that isn’t interesting in the least. DNF is all about gameplay, which is what games are. PLAYING GAMES.
But a lot of people hated it who loved the old ones. Well, let’s examine this. Bioshock 2, Fable 3, Modern Warfare 3 and Halo 3 are all considered to be subpar games but look at what you’re comparing them to. You’re comparing them to their predecessor, which 97& of the time was groundbreaking. How could a sequel ever hold a torch to that? Sure, Halo 2 did it to Halo so there are exceptions obviously. Those games aren’t bad and in fact each one of them plays way better than their predecessor, but just are missing what made the original so much more. I enjoyed playing all those sequels (I actually liked Fable 3 more than 2 for what it’s worth) because of how much better they played. I had more fun playing DNF when I played it 2 years back than I’ve had playing any triple a title in the last 5 years. Granted there are times when the game itself is the problem, such as Two Worlds, Vampire Rain or Bulletwitch (which I did enjoy in a “so bad it’s good” sort of way) but DNF isn’t one of those. DNF is a vastly overly criticized and underrated game that deserves much more praise than it was given, and the DLC was one of the best I’ve ever played. Please give things more of a chance before you form such vapid, harsh opinions on them. Watch more than a trailer before saying an entire movie is stupid. Play more than a demo before admitting a whole game is worthless. Give. Stuff. A. Chance.
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