"It's bittersweet," Cliff Bleszinski tells me when I ask him about the current trilogy in the Gears of War series coming to an end. The game designer has been at the helm of the franchise since its inception in 2006.
Last week, Microsoft held a Gears of War 3 review event in San Francisco where journalists were invited to play the game's multiple multiplayer modes online with and against each other. During this event, I spoke with Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski about the last game in the current trilogy.
Jump in to read snippets from the interview and watch a longer cut of the interview, edited over fresh footage captured during my time playing the game for review.
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"It's almost a billion dollar franchise at this point and to be able to help contribute and craft something like that is an honor and a pleasure, honestly." Though the attmosphere at a Gears of War 3 review event is laid back, Epic and Microsoft representatives anxiously pace around the room. This is, of course, the biggest exclusive release for the Xbox 360 in 2011, and it's almost on store shelves.
Of all the features included in Gears of War 3, the standout is Beast Mode. It stands out not because it's better than any other component in the game but because it drastically changes the way Gears of War is played. There's a methodical pace to the series, something Bleszinski once coined as "stop and pop." In Beast Mode, players looking to success must rush out of the gate and attack enemies head on as they fight a sixty-second timer.
"We didn't have the clock in there for the longest time and we found that it didn't have a sense of urgency," Bleszinski explained. "Once we added the clock it changed everything. We had a lot of heated internal design debates on whether or not we'd do that."
Bleszinski says that the timer is one part of what makes Beast so different compared to other modes in the game. "The thing that makes it different is the fact that is has the clock, is the fact that it's the monsters, is the fact that it's class-based."
"Thankfully we have these archetypal creatures that happen to work together. A Kantus in the main campaign resurrects guys, well, it turns out you can heal your buddies and resurrect them as the Kantus when you play as him [in Beast Mode]." According to Bleszinski, all of these elements came together in this "kind of serendipity."
For more with Cliff Bleszinski watch the video interview above, which includes new footage from the game's single- and multiplayer modes.
Make sure to read the Shacknews review of Gears of War 3, which I called "the best action game on the Xbox 360."
Gears of War 3 launches on September 20, exclusively for the Xbox 360.