Gears of War 2 Preview with Cliff Bleszinski
We take a closer look at this year's biggest first party Xbox 360 release to see if it can live up to expectations.
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It was more than a year after the release of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 that Microsoft finally came clean about a sequel for the 5-million-seller. But while the publisher may have been reluctant to go public with their decision, for Epic, it was a done deal on day one.
"We started working on it the moment the first one shipped," Epic's Cliff Bleszinski told Kikizo during a recent demonstration of the new game, due on Xbox 360 this autumn.
According to Bleszinski, the team watched as positive reviews started rolling in in late 2007 and knew what they had to do. "We have to do a sequel to this, it's going to be a success," he recalls telling the team.
Always well prepared, Bleszinski makes sure during our brief viewing to hammer on the sequel's main selling points, which pretty much amount to this game being a louder version of Gears of War with more emphasis placed on the overarching story and a darker tone to hold it all together.
Most striking is the game's new look and the grander scale. Gears was criticized for its gloomy visuals that seemed to be span the entire colour palette between dull and less-dull. Things will look livelier this time around.
"A lot of people's memories of Gears 1 is essentially grey pillars," says Bleszinski, "and we really wanted to defy that in Gears 2 as far as having these beautiful vistas that are just a little bit richer in colour and are a little bit more beautiful."
True to this sentiment, the design team was tasked with showing off the game world more in so-called "vista moments", to emphasize the "before" before players unleash hell on the carefully crafted levels.
Considering the variation in the locations, it's fair to assume players will be seeing quite a few of these. Already the creators are promising missions that will take Marcus Fenix and crew from the highest mountains to the deepest underground caverns of Sera. For the 100-strong development team, Gears 2 is all about adding "flourishes" to what is already a polished engine (notwithstanding Too Human creator Denis Dyack's criticisms of Unreal Engine 3.0).
If there was a weak point in Gears of War, few would argue that it was the game's story framework. From the non-battle with the Brumak to the unsatisfying conclusion, the game became the monstrous success it was in spite of rather than because of the underlying narrative. For the sequel, Epic is hoping a broader approach will work better.