Session with Cliff Bleszinski and Gears of War 2
No doubt you have likely seen the gameplay reveal vid that was released last week. You’ve also probably seen the Gears of War / Gears of War 2 comparison and pop-up videos. Well, over at the Microsoft Spring Showcase, we were treated to a walkthrough of that level, (the second level of the game, titled “Assault”) which was only shown in excerpts in the aforementioned vids. Naturally, who better to walk us through the level than Design Diector Cliff Bleszinski himself?
Last week’s GOW 2 videos left us with questions, and made us want to see more of everything. Bleszinski bared it all, and we saw some things that were not shown in the videos.
First off, GOW 2’s story picks up six months after the events of the first game. The Locusts have been fighting back hard, and are intent on bringing down the last safe city on Sera by bringing down everything around it. Marcus Fenix and the COG are charged with stopping this world-ending plan. This time around, the COG have made available to Marcus new weapons, and some new tools to engage in massive, epic battles.
The new visual effects in the game, like high dynamic range, expanded color scheme, and particle effects add so much to the world. Seeing smoke rising from the Lancer’s chainsaw bayonet, and watching the bright blood splatter is so much more stunning. But you’ve already seen how gorgeous this game looks. Let’s move on to stuff you haven’t seen already.
The Derricks are huge vehicles used to haul the COG and assist in getting a pair of COGs into Locust territory deep beneath the surface of planet Sera. “Assault” takes place primarily aboard a Derrick, as they vehicles roll high speed to a city under Locust siege. Everything about this level screams, “HUGE.” From the giant Derricks to battling multiple Brunacks (and yes, even seeing Corpsers in this level), the massive feel of this game is matched by the amount of action prevalent throughout.
Driving the Derricks (and important to the storyline) are the “Stranded,” civilians recruited to play essential, but non-combat roles in the battle against the Locusts. These civilians agreed to help the COG in exchange for necessities and supplies for their families as a part of a government program called “Operation Lifeboat.”
As the Derricks roll to their destination, we couldn’t help but enjoy the pastel-colored sky, mountain skyline, and the beautiful forest. The tranquil scene was violently interrupted however, by a Locust attack (as seen in the videos). The skies filled with mortars, Locusts, and bullets. The trees were being plowed down by both Derricks and Locusts, and we were really surprised to see the forests start to burn up in massive flames. These details showed us that Sera was a world being transformed by the scars of war, unlike in the first game, where we only saw a post-ravaged world.
In one part of the level, the Derrick driver, “Dizzy,” remarked that the engine was overheating, and as such, needed Marcus and the COG to fend off any attacks while Dizzy worked on the engine. Marcus disembarked from the transport vehicle to battle a couple of waves of Locusts on the ground. The stop and pop style of play is definitely intact, but the Locusts looked and moved so much smarter. Their movement paths weren’t so predictable, and they had a sense of authenticity in their attacks (taking higher ground and flanking Marcus). And the hit detection and animations are also improved. Under attack, Bleszinski aimed his crosshairs at a Locust’s knees and blasted away. The Locust, now unable to walk, screamed in agony as he tried to drag his body back behind cover. This was not a scripted scene – and it was just one little detail in the battle that ensued.
Dizzy shouted to Marcus that the Derrick was back up and running, so a quick escape back to the armored vehicle, and Marcus and company were back on track. When another Derrick was high jacked by Locusts, and the Locusts started boarding Marcus’ Derrick using grappling hooks, more frantic battling continued. Yes, the chainsaw duels are incredible. But what you haven’t seen are two NPCs going at each other in a chainsaw duel. Again, not a scripted event, but when we saw a duel occurring, Bleszinski quickly shot the Locust, ending the duel, and possibly saving his COG soldier.
During the pop-up video of the gameplay reveal last week, there was a question as to whether or not you can actually shoot and kill one of the hundreds of Locusts on the ground below as you rode past them on the Derrick. Bleszinski answered that question resoundingly – he did in fact shoot and kill them. But of course, with so much more pressing matters (like boarding Locusts trying to jack your ride) at hand, the Locusts on the ground were less of a threat to deal with.
Those were the most remarkable details we gleaned from the walkthrough. In addition to this however, Bleszinski went into detail about the game in general. In terms of level design, Epic wanted to explore a variety of settings, and apparently, we can expect battles in the snow (as well as the valleys, like in “Assault”).
There are going to be more multiplayer maps, modes, and in general, the story will be deeper and darker. We’ve also learned recently that GOW 2 will feature FOUR two player co-op! And Bleszinski was quick to point out that creatures we only saw in cutscenes in GOW will be playing a more active part in GOW 2. Looks like Bleszinski really means it when he says GOW 2 will be “Bigger, better, and more badass.”
Expect Gears of War 2 to dominate the gaming landscape once again later this year.