Epic Games' world-annihilating Unreal Engine 3 is currently the talk of next-gen town. So what better way to demonstrate its awesome power than with their own game? And oh-my-pants, is Epic going all out on Gears of War, its sumptuous next-gen third-person shooter.
We recently sat down with Epic's Cliff Bleszinski (CliffyB for short) and Mark Rein to chow down on the game, those visuals and pretty much anything else we could squeeze out of them.
When will Gears of War be released?
Cliffy B: 2006! We're targetting the launch window for Xbox 360, which means within the first year of the system hitting. So day one, a year from there the game will be out, within that window.
Are you still planning a PC version?
Mark Rein: Right now the only version we're working on is this. When we've finished the game we might work on other versions but right now this is it.
Can you tell us a bit about the co-op mode?
CB: The co-op mode is planned for two players and I wanted to make sure that player one is Marcus and player two is Dom, so that if you're playing co-operative with another player it's not just Marcus in blue or purple standing in a cutscene like "Uuuh yeah", there's a really good story to it. I wanted to make sure that Marcus is always there in the game and that player two can pick up the controller and say "Hey, what are you playing?" and jump right in. You get the same experience on live, the friend who wants to join you sends a party invite or whatever, and hops in and has a good time.
It had to be relevant to the story as far as these buddies go - there's two primary characters. So in addition to that, having those kind of co-op splits where there's a choice for the first player to choose which way he goes, in solo play that actually extends your playability because you want to see what happens on the other path. Then as far as providing supportive fire for each other, there's a very simple order system that's being intergrated into the game. It's not going to be as deep as like a Full Spectrum Warrior type of experience, the game's still going to be about cover and it's about co-op, it's about shooting guns and everything, but there will be some order system in the game.
Is there much variation in the characters or do they have simular abilities?
CB: We want to keep it equal as far as they all have their own unique personaility, but they all have access to different weapons. That's the design we're going for.
You haven't shown much of the game's health system, can you tell us how it works?
CB: Yeah, basically it's just not quite ready for prime-time showing yet. I mean you have to have some kind of secrets because we are in fact making a videogame. My goal here is to have as much of it on the character, you know when Marcus is injured you have him bloodied up with details and things like that, and yeah we will have some ammo annotation, some health annotation, but I don't believe we're going to have any primary and secondary indication of that. You can indicate stuff like that on the screen with the character - that's the best way to do it.
Can you tell us a bit about the story?
CB: This is a planet called Sera, and life was good on Sera. Everybody was building beautiful architecture, they were celebrating the arts, until one day this great energy source was discovered, and this caused total civil war on the planet. Everybody wanted this energy source because it was clean running, it was very pure, it seemed like it was synonymous with time. These wars were going on for a while and suddenly mankind's little skirmish was interrupted by this army called the Locust Horde which came from the underground of the planet. It's important to know that this isn't a space marine type of game, so space is pretty much irrelevant to this game, everything takes place on one planet. And the Locust Horde, since they come from the underground of the planet, have the ability to emerge from any location on the planet, except for the spots that have very thick granet crusts.