Gears of War 2: interview with lead developer

Epic's Cliff Bleszinksi speaks to John Gaudiosi

Gears of War 2 lead developer Cliff Bleszinksi describes the benefits of the Unreal Engine 3, destructible environments, multiplayer chainsaw duels, and explains why you won't be able to customize your guns in Gears of War 2.

Cliff Bleszinski has spent the past 10 years in the Raleigh-Durham area, which has become something of a hotbed of game development with the recent studio announcement by Insomniac Games and established developers like Epic Games, Red Storm Entertainment, Virtual Heroes, Funcom Studios, Icarus Studios and Vicious Cycle Software. Bleszinski has grown as the surrounding area has blossomed and Epic Games has become a major two-pronged force in the game industry with its Unreal Engine 3 technology and its original franchises like Unreal Tournament and Gears of War.

Bleszinski, who's now 33, currently serves as the lead games designer at Epic. The first Gears game bought him critical accolades, record global sales, and a brand new Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. With Gears 2 shipping this November, Bleszinski took some time to discuss his latest creation with GamePro in this exclusive interview.

Epic has made a lot of buzz about their new Unreal Engine 3 tech, but how will this make the world of Gears of War 2 come alive? We've heard of better lighting, better water effects, and "soft body processing." It alls sounds fancy, but how will it improve Gears 2 from a gamer's perspective?

I think you can directly look at every single tech video we've released and you can extrapolate a lot of how that's going to be used in the world. When you see hundreds of Locusts pouring out into the street and you're unloading a certain unannounced weapon into them, you're going to be a happy camper. Just the other day I was driving in this icy level with a tank and power-sliding through Locusts and Gus goes, "Locust roadkill, baby. Squish. Squish. Squash. Squash." It was just freakin' great. And then when you shoot you're knocking over trees because we have more destroyable objects and you shoot your Boomshot and everything shatters apart. Gears was heavy and Gears was chunky and Gears felt satisfying. And Gears 2 is just really taking that to the next level. It's just cooler and more visceral.

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Will the new tech allow for destructible environments? If so, how might this impact gameplay?

That's what the fractuables allow. You really feel like you're chipping away at stuff and really interacting with the world. In a game like this, not only does Marcus slam into the wall, but shooting is your base form of interaction. When you're targeting a guy and he goes back behind cover and you have another unannounced weapon which is doing serious damage...We have this whole chart of things we've announced and things we haven't...I always have to cross-reference it in my head. Let's just say we leverage as much as we can whore the feature.

Will there be any character customizations or weapon customizations in Gears of War 2? If not, why so?

We're not really that kind of game. We're not going to allow you to bling out your gun. The Lancer's a Lancer, Gus is Gus, and Marcus is Marcus. Those are the identities we're sticking with.

There was one vehicle scenario in the first game. Are more vehicles something that would enhance Gears 2?

Absolutely. We've already announced the Centaur. And there are other levels that are unique in a similar vane to that. There are some really nice surprises that haven't been announced.

Will online co-operative play be limited to two players, ala Gears of War 1? Is there any chance for three or four-player co-operative play?

We haven't announced our co-op plans yet.

Will that be at E3?

Probably.

Is Epic streamlining or refining the controls in Gears of War 2?

Eight billion tasks have been cycled on for improving the cover system. You can interrupt the swat turn and go right into a roady run so you're not stuck swat turning. The angle of cover entry for roady run has been tweaked so you don't necessarily get cuked into cover as often when you roady run. Mantling's a little more crisp. Just evading into cover is more crisp. Every single last action has been tweaked. The angle at which you cover slip when you move forward has been tweaked. Every single bit of the cover system has been massaged this time. I went back and played Gears 1 and I still think it's a great cover system, but what I missed was tremendous and I'm so happy with a lot of the results that have come out of the tweaking for Gears 2.

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