Gears of War, Microsoft and Epic's exclusive third person shooter series, is set to conclude. Gears of War 3 might mean the end of the trilogy, but - according to Executive Producer Chris Kimmel and Epic's head cheese Mike Capps - that doesn't mean that the Gears universe is gone for good. We discussed that, and the upcoming Gears of War 3, at Gamescom...
First up, the conclusion issue. Yes, this is the end of the story arc that has enthralled Xbox 360 shooter fans since the series debut in 2006. Not only that, but Mike Capps assured us that there's no twist. No cliffhanger. No doubt. By the end of the game, the questions raised over the last five years will be answered.
Our enquiry as to whether that's the end of the franchise itself was met with a response that was as revealing as it was non-committal; "we're not working on anything at the moment, but it's not out of the question".
So what's the new game got going for it then? Capps believes that this will be the ultimate Gears game in more ways than the one we've already discussed; with new modes, new options and a new enemy, Gears is shaping up to be exactly what fans were hoping for.
The first of the new content is Arcade mode. Once you've completed a level in campaign, you can tackle it again but with the focus shifted; now, it's more about score and combos than an attempt to stave off species extinction. We didn't see it in action, but what's not to love about a new reason to revisit campaign missions on-demand?
There's a new enemy, too. The lambent have gone from a sideshow to an army in their own right, taking on the rag-tag humans in their unique way. We got to see them in action and, like in the previous games, their explodey demise is something you need to be wary of. They're also much grosser than ever before and, like enemies you fought in Halo, they have a tendency to mutate in order to fill a role that will most terrorize you...
Horde mode has had a host of tweaks, including the new ability to build a fortress - buying things like walls and traps to aid you in your impossible quest to defeat the endless (and always triumphant) enemy hordes. These fortresses were originally intended to be deployed anywhere, but in order to ensure that noob (or griefing) players don't screw it up for everyone, tactically suitable locations have been pre-defined by the dev team.
Then there's Beast mode. Think of it as Horde mode, but in reverse; you control the "enemies" and take on the COG forces. Yep, for the first time in Gears history, you can play as Lambent and Locust units.
Chris and Mike were also keen to stress that the community is a big part of the development of their titles. The recent beta generated a lot of feedback, which itself resulted in a host of changes and tweaks that the development team had neither foreseen nor intended.
So why was the game delayed (it was originally intended for release in April)? Mike answered that in a surprising way - the publisher requested it. In modern, agile game development, features are prioritized and effort is focused in order that things like ship dates don't slip. Typically, this means that some stuff that the developer wanted to include doesn't make it, cut to ensure the release date doesn't move.
Microsoft knew what Epic had planned, with things like the new Beast mode hovering somewhere near the chopping block, and elected to opt for a delay in order to ensure that these new features made the game and that Gears 3 was all it could be.
At least, that's the official story. Regardless, the game is headed to store shelves on the 20th of September - you can decide for yourself (or read our full review to find out) if it was worth it.