Interviews

Gears of War

An audience with CliffyB, the man who's grinding our Gears

Better known as CliffyB, the man responsible for Jazz Jackrabbit, several slices of UT and the continuing adventures of Marcus Fenix is the closest we've got to a gaming-development celebrity. Admittedly, there are other contenders, but most come across as friendly-uncle types - and Cliffy has cooler hair and swears a bit.

Having played the game on PC, it's amazing how you get such a feeling of weight and grit into the keyboard and mouse controls...

CliffyB: Yeah. For me it's like a recipe - all the ingredients coming together to give you a flavour that really works well. For a start, the character looks big and bulky and doesn't just walk up to cover and stand next to it - he dives like his life counts on it. As it does!

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You've also got to have that right sound, of metal hitting the wall, and have the screen shake at just the right time; it adds to the feeling of heaviness of the character. He moves with a sense of weight - that's where we're going with the game's pacing. A slightly slower, more methodical pace - even though it still gets pretty fast and frantic in certain sections, y'know?

Where did the game's art style and architecture come from?

CliffyB: A lot of it was based on my own feelings of going to London. Plus, Terry our art director directed the hell out of it. I was on a trip to London a couple of years ago and stood at the top of St Paul's Cathedral and looked out - so there's that, plus a little of Washington DC, Prague...

If you're going to do something sci-fi, you should at least make it something interesting to look at. Why does everything have to be this bunker/factory shit, y'know? Let's give people beautiful stone sculptures, carvings, marble and whatnot - then blow it all to hell, put in some cool enemies and badass dudes and have some fun!"

How about your enemies? What are you going for with them?

CliffyB: We wanted the Locust to be intelligent savages; they're like the Uruk-hai in LOTR, only with guns. The Uruk-hai would organise themselves, line up and then storm in - even though they look like horrible monsters. That's what the Locust essentially are: bipedal, thick-skinned, but also smart enough to build and use their own weaponry. They use tactics - they're not just running at you mindlessly.

It's quite a bloody game. How far do you feel you can go with the gore?

CliffyB: Generally, with the violence in a game like Gears or UT, it's kind of cartoony. It's cutting people in half with a chainsaw at the end of a f****** gun! It's more slapstick Evil Dead than a snuff film or anything like that.

How about the new single-player stuff you're developing for the PC?

CliffyB: We've got five new single-player chapters. If you played Gears on 360, there's a section where the guys just outrun this huge creature called the Brumak. This shows what happens between point A and point B - the APC the guys are in has to cross a bridge (which is like Tower Bridge, by the way) and they have to lower it with the Brumak stalking them.

They have to figure out a way to turn on the power while this four-storey-tall creature with teeth and guns is coming at them, and eventually it'll result in a confrontation.

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