The first game I got to check out on the expo floor was Epic games final installment in the Gears of War trilogy. Epic’s booth had two set ups of 5 vs 5 team death match. Although TDM is a staple in most online shooters it is a new addition to this series. The match rules break down like this, each team as a pool of 25 lives shared by all players. Once a team’s spawns runs out, it’s game over.
The first thing that stood out to me was how great the lighting looked. Dynamic shadows from multiple light sources looked amazing. Also, there is a more color rich palette being used which is quite a departure from the de-saturated look of the prior games in the series.
According to the booth staff this is the same build that will be available for beta participants this April. The game play is still very tight and the characters move slightly faster than in Gears 2. One of the signature features of the Gears games, the roadie run, has received a bit of an overhaul. The camera is pulled back further giving you a larger view of the battlefield. I wonder why they decided to change it? I thought the limited field of view was the trade off for the increased movement speed. With no glaring downside, I would prepare for lots of roadie running in the future.
There is a nice overhead map of the level accessible while in the lobby and the devs have gone ahead and added names to some of the areas, presumably to help with team communication and coordination. Giving players the same vocabulary is a great idea. I tip my hat to whoever came up with that one.
During the two rounds I played I got to use most of the default weapons:
The Lancer – I didn’t notice anything different so my feeling is they probably thought “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
The Classic Lancer - This thing kicks like a mule after drink 8 Red Bulls. I wasn’t a fan.
The Shotgun – Same as the regular Lancer. I didn’t notice and apparent tweaks.
The Hammerburst - This gun seemed to have the most changes. The recoil has been dialed back. You can squeeze off rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger and now when you pull the left trigger and chick in the left thumbstick to zoom you get an iron sights view. Very cool and so far my favorite gun of the limited selection I got to sample.
Gears of War 3 was also the last game I played before the expo floor closed on the final day of PAX. Our team was working together and the outcome of the match was proof of that. We won 19-0. As we walked away from the booth on our way out of the convention center my blood was pumping, adrenaline flowing and I couldn’t have been more excited to get my hands on the upcoming beta. It’s going to be a long couple of weeks for sure.