It’s certainly not an easy task for a studio to create a brand new franchise and not only make it successful, but also get it labelled as a high-profile killer-app for a games console. Epic did just that in 2006 with Gears of War
. It took a squad team mechanic, removed all the chaff, introduced a tonne of arcade game-play to the table and, of course, offered guns. Lots of guns (and blood and gore).
creator, Cliff Bleszinski, raved about the sheer hardcore elements of the game two years ago, but now in 2008 the design director touts a new philosophy for its upcoming sequel - “Epic, yet more intimate”. A trolley-load of storyline, morality and companionship to go with the chunks of bodies laid out by shotgun blasts. Gears of War
is growing up.
The story takes place a year or so after the events of the original game. The failure of the Lightmass mission is being rewarded by a strengthening of the enemy’s resolve. In case you've forgotten, that mission involved a plan to blow up the enemy Locust creatures by planting a huge bomb at their ‘hive’ - sure, we all know that your actual locust lives in a swarm... but this is a game, damn it!. Locust now occupy a large chunk of the land of Sera and the last stronghold for humanity, Jacinto, is starting to weaken.
Cliff stresses that the story and design direction for Gears of War 2
will not only satisfy those hungry for some lore with their favourite blaster, but will aim to provide a deconstruction of humanity’s ways and the costs of war in the process.
Just stop and take that in for a moment before we move on.
Again, the main protagonists are Delta Squad, with Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago leading the fight against the Locust. There’s a heavier emphasis on Dom in particular, as he tries to find out what’s happened to his missing wife, Maria.
Dom has been improved in more than a literary sense; Epic has said that the AI in both your team mates and your enemies has been vastly enhanced, so that your computer-controlled buddy doesn’t get owned by every bad guy as he runs face first into missile fire.
Locust will move around a lot more when being fired at; will form tactical strategies and won’t be tricked by the same flank twice. I noticed cheeky enemy soldiers hiding behind concrete blocks in one spot, then firing at me from a completely different location a few seconds after. You need to keep your wits about you.
Certainly, if you got wits, Gears of War 2
will want you to use them. Cliff announced that there have been around 400 tweaks to the cover system alone.
In our interview, he would not be pressed him
specific examples of what had been altered.However, in playing the game I noticed the general presentation and execution are much more polished than in its predecessor.
For example, one of the main bothers of Gears of War
was hopping from one wall to another during a panic-fuelled button mash when you just wanted to charge forward, so I'm glad that’s been fixed for the more paranoid players here. (OK, then, just me).