Gears of War is, without question, one of biggest and most influential franchises of this console generation. The series popularized the snap-to-cover mechanic, now a staple of third-person shooters, among other things. Gears of War 3 represents the epic conclusion to Marcus Phoenix and Company's trilogy, with greatly expanded multiplayer options thrown in for good measure. We got a chance to sit down with series' creator and design director Cliff Bleszinski for an in-depth look at Gears of War 3's single-player campaign.
The folks over at Epic Games have made a concerted effort to enhance their storytelling options this time around. Cliff mentioned the team gained "narrative confidence" from the positive reception to the two previous Gears titles. He also said that films such as Pulp Fiction inspired them to experiment with showing levels from multiple perspectives. This is meant to give extra weight and context to the set-pieces and plot-points, while allowing for a wider variety of options in the level design and gameplay.
The level we were shown tasked Marcus, Dom, Baird and Cole with splitting up to tackle a gigantic lambent leviathan. Marcus and Dom took a direct, head-on approach, blasting the formidable creature from within a new Sliverback mech. This piece gave Cliff the opportunity to mention the enhanced animation system - which allows for greater chaos in general than ever before - and portable cover elements in Gears of War 3. In this case, the Silverback acts as a piece of cover for your allies, adding an additional element of strategy to each level and highlighting the game's focus on coop play. Once Marcus and Dom had sufficiently damaged the leviathan's vulnerable spot, a group of explosives conveniently rained down from above to finish it off.
To explain this fortunate turn of events, the game pulled back to the start of the leviathan encounter. This time players took control of Baird and Cole as they fought their way toward the crate of explosives positioned on a bridge above the massive beast - a truly spectacular sight. Cooperative options were present here as well. The Vulcan Cannon is a two-person weapon - one operates the gun while the other keeps the ammo supply going - that can dispense bullets with incredible speed and lethal efficiency, if players work together.
This sequence also showcased the new iron-sight view added to a handful of Gears of War 3's weapons. According to Cliff, this move isn't directly aimed at the Call of Duty crowd, but is simply meant to give fans of the first-person perspective a way to experience Gears. Only a select few weapons, after extensive balancing, were chosen to support this iron-sight view.
As the demo drew to a close, Cliff mentioned an interesting bit of information on how he originally wanted to end Gears of War 2. In his words, he wanted to "blow up the entire planet" to end Gears of War 2, but decided against it so the series could continue on.
With Marcus Phoenix's story coming to a conclusive end this time around, will we see Cliff's original plan come true after all? We'll have to wait until Gears of War 3 hits store shelves on September 20th, 2011 to find out.