Monday, June 14, 2010

The skinny on Gears 3 at E3

 Oooh, scary.Seeing Gears of War 3 at Microsoft’s E3 press conference was just about as sure as someone mispronouncing Ubisoft or, if that confuses you, finding sand in the desert. Predictable as its appearance was, the macho, hemoglobin drenched phenomenon was in full-cooperative form. While the demonstration was extremely rough, boy did it have a lot to show.

 If you’re a Gears aficionado, you likely watched the debut of the Seran survivors through gritted teeth. Gears of War 2 wasn’t exactly the shining example of how to do your multiplayer component. If the latest title update (current total – six) is any indication, Gears 2 has become a testing ground for what not to do in the sequel. Us Gears fans needed to see proof that we wouldn’t be subjected to the same form of torture on the third round. Saying that, due to the brevity of the situation it’s entirely too early to tell if all the problems have been worked out. But what’s clear is that Epic is giving us some very fine, and sadistically cool features we can appreciate right now.

 There's ladies now. Smile. I’ll have to open with the quick kick. Countless times I’ve been trapped whilst in cover, my opponent residing on the opposite side. We’d exchange fire and move back and forth, much like some cruel depiction of wandering ducks. Unless you could make a quick leap over, getting close to your opponent wasn’t really possible without making yourself an incredibly large and vulnerable target; like a duck. Now, Gears 3 lets you hurdle over cover with an option to give your nemesis a quick kick to the solar plexus. This little gameplay device was announced, like a slew of other mechanics, but it’s one thing to read about it and another to see it in action. Sure it’s small, but what a new weapon to have in your back pocket. 

 This thing doesn't like Locust either. Better, even is the ability to use your mobile cover as a weapon. Gears 2 implemented the meatshield to great success, but it apparently wasn’t good enough. Now you can take the opponent you’re using as cover, attach a grenade to their back, and kick them into unsuspecting foes. Surely, the expression, “Catch!” will get old real quick. On a side note - the ability to blow yourself up while down but not out in Gears 2 was fine, but it just never worked right. There was too much of a delay and if you were down but didn’t have grenades equipped, you were out of luck. This seems to be quite the complement to suicide.

The new threat called the Lambent, still are shrouded in mystery but they hate the Locust just as much as you. They consist of weird mutating creatures that appear to have multiple forms. During the demo Cliff was hiding behind cover and the creature was lobbing acid-like globules that were hitting him. It’ll be weird dealing with a creature that can hit you in several different ways, but I suppose that’s the trade-off for having a four-player co-op campaign. By the way, Berserkers are back. You know, those things from the first game? They have tentacles now.

They have to look back on technology to  get ahead. My head... Of course the four-player co-op is pretty important. Most games nowadays are utilizing this mechanic and I’m all for it. Gears always seemed like one of those games who’d eventually explore higher-scale battles and who better to bring with you than three other buddies?   Cliff also mentioned a new mode entitled “Beast” which could be practically anything at this point. My guess is it’s going to utilize the returning Berserker for something.

New weapons were also present along with placeholder name selects like Retro Lancer. Right in the beginning we were blessed with the carnage the new Digger weapon could inflict. The projectile does what its name implies and tunnels under cover while emitting that familiar beep, right before it explodes in your face. The Pendulum Lancer was also fired quite a bit and was used to roadie-run impale a Locust in an immensely satisfying charge of gore. Unfortunately the sawn-off shotgun was not utilized in the demo, even though Marcus was clearly carrying it.

 It&squot;s been said, "Sleevless in Seattle."
It’s also worth noting that the UI has gone through a few changes. When downed, the standard medical cross will appear above you so your teammates will be able to locate you’re worthless ass. Also, your reticle now changes like most shooting games. The bigger it is, the less accurate you are. But the best change comes with swapping weapons. You can now exchange weapons with teammates, so that dude who can’t hit anything with the Torque Bow can give it to someone with a shred of talent.

The game looks great and it’s everything anyone can and should’ve come to expect. Although the presentation was definitely rough with animations not looking as solid and some overall jankiness to the gameplay, Gears 3 looks to be a satisfying addition to the series. I wouldn’t worry too much though. Epic has quite some time to tighten things up as the game doesn’t even ship until April of next year.
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