Gears of War - 360 - Preview
With the introduction of the Xbox 360 and other next generation consoles has created an onslaught of games being made based on existing franchises. It seems some publishers and developers are concerned about the profitability of games making the importance of a successful game even more important with the next generation. Epic Games has been extremely successful in making a next generation engine (Unreal Engine 3.0) that is going to power several of the newest games for the next gen consoles. But thankfully Epic has decided to go head with the creation of a new game for the Xbox 360 called Gears of War. So far it looks be an impressive and amazing title that could become a must own title for 360.
Cliff Bleszinski was on hand at the Microsoft booth behind closed doors with Lee Perry from Epic Games showing off Gears of War. The game is a shooter but is a 3rd person perspective tactical shooter. Now this isn’t to say the game will be similar to the Ghost Recon series but the primary focus of the game will be finding cover before firing. This game isn’t a run and gun shooter where you can clear out a level with 400 monsters. The game has a fairly extensive back story that revolves around a planet that has been torn apart because of the discovery of a new clean energy source. The planet was divided into two factions but soon a third faction, the Locust, came up and tossed the world into even deeper chaos & despair. The main hero (or anti-hero as Cliff called him) is Marcus Phoenix who has just recently been released from prison because he abandons his unit to protect his father from the Locust.
Cliff stressed that the game is a shoot and cover game but the cover can be created in some spectacular ways. The game will have destructible environments that allow you to create cover almost at anytime. Doors can be blown up and used for cover. Tables can be used for cover as well but just because you’re safe behind cover doesn’t mean your cover can’t be destroyed. Yes that’s right the cover you use, such as a door or table, will breakdown after a while. Another example of cover that can be created is from columns for a building or statues. During the demo on display at E3 Epic fired at a statue that fell over in a courtyard that allowed your teammate to take cover.
Co-op is going to be a big part of the game as well whether you’re online or offline. The game does include a unit that is always with Marcus and the squad at E3 had up to four characters (including Marcus). The computer controlled characters will use cover in battles as well. There was no indication that there will be any squad based commands that can be given to your unit. The game will support Xbox Live Co-op which should be a huge hit for Xbox 360 fans.
Since this is an Xbox 360 game the visuals are unbelievable. The game has a dark and gritty look but all of the textures were amazing with tons of detail. Some of the impressive features shown in the game had the characters blowing up doors, windows and other environments to use during a battle. At the end of the first level shown the game ended with a massive creature entering the stage ready to attack Marcus and his unit. The creature looked incredible and will probably leave some gamers with their jaws hitting the ground. The next level shown was even more impressive since it was set at night. The Locust are more powerful at night so Marcus and his teammate decided to use a burning car as cover and as light to help keep the Locust away. They both decided to start pushing the burning car down a road only to have the car get away from them and end up at the bottom of the road, blowing up and flipping over. This sequence looked amazing and once again will be something gamers will definitely talk about when the game is released. The next section had Marcus in the middle of a fire fight at what appears to be a gas station. Parts of the gas station started to blow up during the battle and Marcus even created an explosion for cover. Marcus then moved over to a large gas tank while his teammate provided cover for him. He turned the gas tank handle to release the gas into the streets. Then in order for Marcus to get away he fired a bullet at the stream of gas to light it on fire. A stream of fire was ablaze on the street which was another amazing part of the game.
All of these events were happening in real time with the demo running on Xbox 360 development kits. Epic was using a prototype Xbox 360 controller for the demo as well. The game’s frame rate did stutter a little but the demo was only at 35% so this should be corrected for the final release. The game will be an Xbox 360 exclusive and will be available sometime in 2006 (it’s done when it’s done). At one of the press showings at the Microsoft booth the gas station level was even used to show off the game in video form. At the end of the video another massive boss creature showed up that you probably have seen pictures of from previous demos of the Unreal Engine 3.0. Cliff said he wanted to design a game that had water cooler moments where you and all of your friends can talk about the game. So far Gears of War appears to be just that game.