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Xbox 360
Epic Games
GENRE: Action
November 07, 2006

Gears of War 4

Gears of War 4

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition

Gears of War 3

Gears of War 2

More in this Series
 Written by Glenn Wigmore  on May 12, 2006

CliffyB E3 Demo Impressions: CliffyB, CliffyB, what can you show me?

The first level of Gears of War was shown for all to see at the MS Press Conference, but the MS E3 booth had a guided demo by Cliff Bleszinski. The demo was wall-to-wall action, and it really helped flesh out much of the game's control scheme and feel.

Bleszinski started by explaining that the demo shown at the MS Press Conference was the first level of the game, and also that he'd be showing us that again, but also taking an alternate path to go through Gears of War's tutorial.

The tutorial explains the mechanics of movement, weapon control and combat. As an aside, the tutorial is quite a bit like the Halo tutorial by using in-game characters and scenarios to make the calibration and information of controls seem ?natural.? Controlling the recently ?pardoned? Marcus Fenix starts with the thumbsticks, but that's only the beginning. The Y button proves to be a ?special interest? button that allows Marcus to focus on objects that ?his boy, Dom? calls out ? be it enemies, items or otherwise. The A button will prove to be one of the most used, as that allows Marcus to dive when in the open, but also to slam himself up against walls and objects for cover. He can strafe back and forth behind the wall, and he can also fire blindly from behind any cover. The X button allows for reloading of the current weapon, but there is a twist to this: as you reload, a meter quickly fills up and you have to time a button press to get a quick reload (and a damage bonus), otherwise the gun will jam.

As for selecting guns, that requires the use of the d-pad, and it's done in a logical and interesting way. The right side of the d-pad selects your right shoulder's weapon, while the left part of the pad will do the left shoulder. Up on the d-pad gives you grenades, and back on the pad will give you a pistol ? Bleszinski said this makes sense for combat, as you'd be ?falling back.? The guns pack a huge wallop, with the assault rifle sounding like it is firing nails out of a bullhorn. The shotgun devastates pretty hard, and the grenades are easy to throw because of an arced aiming reticule, and they look and sound thunderously good. In addition, you can use the B button to activate the chainsaw (on the assault rifle) to hack up some Locust fools ? very violent and very, very delicious.

While you can use the right thumbstick for camera control, there is also the ?roadie run? that, via a button press, allows for a cinematic follow camera to shakily pursue Marcus as he runs to a destination or the nearest cover point.

In addition to the previous cover moves, there are also some other evade and stealth techniques, including a Splinter Cell-esque ?S.W.A.T. Turn? and a bridged animation that allows Marcus to launch out from cover and then instantly slam up against the next cover point ? obviously good for ?leap frogging? your way towards the opposition.

The demonstration looked just as devastating as in the press conference, but the notable framerate drop was still apparent in this demo. This framerate drop-off was only noticeable in certain moments of big action, but even so, this is something that Epic is likely to clean up before the game's late-summer/early fall release.

Final Thoughts
Gears of War is certainly shaping up to make some big waves when it releases, and this demonstration by Cliffy B. certainly made a great case for the game not only looking and sounding great, but that it will also play great. It is quite obvious that the control scheme and trappings of the game (cramped cameras and presentation, cover system, etc.) are intentional and will ?force? certain moments to be more tense than they might have been otherwise, but the game still looks so visceral that it's hard not to be excited about its arrival.

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