previews\ May 9, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Gears of War - 360 - Preview 2

E3 2006 Hands On Preview

Named the “killer-app” hands down the moment it was first revealed last year, Gears of War is growing even closer to inception. At this year’s E3 event, the development team was showcasing the games multiplayer aspects, giving us a taste of what the game will essentially feel like when it’s released later this year. Touted as a “stop and pop” shooter as opposed to a “run and gun”, Gears of War has a phenomenal sense of atmosphere and intensity that should make it one of the 360’s top tier titles.

The multiplayer mode that was showcased in the demo was a team Deathmatch mode that pitted five players as the COG (basically the human forces in the game) against five players from the Locust, the hulking, bald, white-faced, nasty-looking alien race that have grown quite predominant in early footage of the game.

Gears of War screenshots

The area in the demo was a destroyed city, showcasing realistic dilapidated buildings and broken down current era cars and trucks. It’s hard to say what time period this would set the game in, as the weaponry was quite futuristic even though the environments could be set in a modern day combat zone.

“Stop and pop” gameplay refers to the use of cover throughout the game. You’ll be able to duck against pretty much any viable cover in the environment, against walls, cars, etc. in order to get the drop on your opponents. However, the enemies will be quite cunning, popping up where you’ll least expect them, be it tunneling out of the ground or busting through a wall and so on.

The game will also have a host of really cool weapons. Aside from the standard pistols, sniper, shotguns and the like, you’ll also have access to the assault rifle. I know what you’re thinking, “Assault rifle?! That’s old and lame.” Well then, how’s about an assault rifle with a chainsaw on it? If the combat gets a little too close-quarters for you, then you can melee your opponent into pieces when the opportunity rears its head.

Gears of War screenshots

The game uses an active reload system, where a button will flash on the screen when the gun needs to be reloaded. If you hit the button at the right time, then your character will not only reload quickly, but will also pack more of a punch in the bullets that he fires in from his clip. However, if you don’t hit the button at the right time, then you’ll reload slower, which will be a HUGE problem if you’re surrounded by an ugly crew of enemy forces.

Another cool element about the combat is the grenade guide. Whereas most shooters with grenades will require you to figure out the arc and power with which you lob an explosive, Gears of War will actually map out the entire path of the grenade, from where it bounces to where it lands, essentially allowing you to guide your grenade to exactly where you want it.

Gears of War screenshots

Graphically, the game looks pretty great, courtesy of the Unreal Engine 3 under the hood. The character models have a ridiculous amount of detail, with real expressive faces and their own unique aesthetics. The environments looked pretty good as well, although the explosion effects didn’t quite pack the same kind of punch as the rest of the look. However, there is still time to work on the game, and Gears of War is not quite done.

Shooter fans should keep their ear to the ground, as Gears of War will be shipping exclusively for the Xbox 360 later this year.


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