Gears of War Meets the Real World

As any responsible owner of guns knows, there’s some basic safety procedures to follow when handling a firearm. Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire. Don’t point the gun at your friends.

Thanks to YouTube user “pfcthiel”, we can add some more rules: “Do not put a Gears of War-style electric chainsaw bayonet on a working rifle” and “Do not use said chainsaw bayonet to awkwardly chase a pumpkin around.” Video after the jump.

Dude, you are going to kill yourself with that thing.

I saw this on Kotaku, but the videos are posted in a thread in

The device is actually billed as a “firearm mounted anti zombie device” rather than a Gears of War knockoff. When another poster wonders aloud whether the Gears bayonets are gas-powered, the creator replies:

I don’t know I never played the game.

But mine is more stealthy if that’s the case.

Stealth is relative for chainsaws, I guess.

Still, watching this video, you realize just what a horrible idea the Gears of War Lancers would be in practice. Soldiers would be cutting their own legs off left and right. I’ll stick with the Nerf version, thanks.

Hordes of Gears of War 2

The roomies have been putting the horde mode of Gears of War 2 through its paces. It’s fun to play, or so they tell me.

Fun to watch it’s not, which is what I’ve been doing as I work form home to the accompaniment of chainsaw, screams and gatling guns. It’s pretty much them staking out the same exact corner of the Hospital map for hours on end and fighting off endless waves of enemies until they succumb. The most entertaining part for me has been Dom getting his hair caught in the Xbox Live headset and calling for Ian to get him free.

Still, it’s as pure a distillation of the Gears gameplay as you’re going to get. Mi padre sent me a link to a New Yorker interview with Cliff Bleszinski aka CliffyB aka Dude Huge, lead designer of the game. In it, he talks about his game design philosophy.

“I’m looking for a fun core-loop of what you’re doing for thirty seconds over and over again,” he told me. “I want it to grab me quick and fast. I want it to have an interesting game mechanic, but I also want it to be a fascinating universe that I want to spend time in, because you’re spending often dozens of hours in this universe.”

Arena mode is the former without the latter. It may be the same 30-second loop over and over again, but darned if they didn’t nail those 30 seconds.

Though I haven’t tried it yet, I’m pleased with horde mode’s inclusion. It’s the sort of thing we’ve been waiting for since playing the solo arena mode in the Marathon 2 rerelease on Xbox Live Arcade.

Once you’re done with the relatively short story mode, it’s something to do with your friends. My deathmatching days are pretty much behind me, with the exception of all the zombie griefing I’m going to be doing in Left 4 Dead. Video games, like sex, are always better in co-op mode.

Kind of wish they would switch levels, though.

Gears of War 2 fast impressions

I didn’t really like Gears of War. That puts me at odds with about 99% of the gaming population, but combat just never felt right for me, no matter how many times I decided to pick it up again and try it.

The roomies picked up Gears of War 2 over the weekend, however, and I gave it a spin. They’ve made some small but important tweaks that have vastly improved it for me.

First and most importantly, good guys glow blue. Bad guys glow red.

Having color-coded LEDs on ally and enemy uniforms may not be realistic, but I found the original Gears incredibly frustrating due to the brown-tastic color scheme, forcing me to rely on character silouhettes to distinguish friend from foe. And, you know, the hulking figures of the enemy bugmen look pretty much the same as the hulking figures of my armored-up comrades. In the sequel, at least I know how to shoot.

Secondly, the guns feel like they have some punch now. Before I felt like I wasn’t firing bullets so much as vaguely directing harm in people’s direction. To once again quote Chet Faliszek of Valve, everything is bigger in the future. The guns and guys are all enormous, but they can only shoot teeny-weeny bullets.

Thirdly, I now know that the main character is played by John DiMaggio and one of the supporting characters is Lester Speight. It’s a lot easier to stomach the ultramacho growly dialog when you imagine it being read by Bender the Robot and Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.

So, yeah. Shootin’ stuff and liking it so far.

Japan and the video game industry

There’s an excellent series of interviews at 1UP about the state of the Japanese game industry and what they’re doing to compete with the West.

After the U.S.-based Atari almost singlehandedly destroyed the home videogame industry in the early ’80s by flooding the market with lousy games, Nintendo led the resurgence. Anything worth playing on the home consoles was Japanese, while Western developers led on the PC. These days, though, things are not so clear cut.

Microsoft took a healthy chunk of the market on the hardware side with the Xbox and the Xbox 360. The megahits on those platforms, things like Gears of War, Halo and Grand Theft Auto, are also all from the U.S., and Ubisoft represents France with franchises like Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy’s Whatever.

So what happened? Well, for one thing, the entry of the Xbox let PC developers apply their expertise to the console market, since it was basically a cheap PC itself.

Japan has also been hamstrung by the ever-rising cost and complexity of making a modern game. According to the article, there’s an unwillingness to go to middleware, which means that Japanese developers spend more and more time reinventing the wheel. Some of the biggest Western games, like Bioshock, are built on existing engines, and almost everyone uses piecemeal solutions like the Havok physics engine.

A general theme running through the interviews is that Japan just got complacent on top. There was a lack of innovation and investment, and it’s catching up to them now.

Anyway, 1UP got some top-flight people to interview, and there’s no doubt in reading them that there’s no lack of creativity and talent over there. I look forward to seeing what Japan brings in the next decade now that its complacency has been rattled.

Movie Trivia: Gears of War Goes Movie

The Gears of War movie has a director, kids…and I don’t know if we can call it good news. It’s none other than Len Wiseman, who brought us such truly spectacular movies as Live Free or Die Hard. And…um…oh crap. Underworld. And Underworld: Evolution. Oh, this isn’t good. This really, really isn’t good.

And much like life itself, the more I read about it, the worse the news gets. No, seriously–they’ve apparently turned over the script writing duties to this putz Wiseman and the guy who’s currently working on The Fast and the Furious 4.

Meanwhile, this gigantic sludge pot of crap moviemaking is getting some fantastic advice from Gears of War creator Cliffy B, who probably should keep his day job because this is all the advice he’s got:

Cliff Bleszinski, the “Gears” design director at Epic, said the tricks to adapting a game are simple: “Hollywood needs to take the source material seriously, win over the avid gamers and make it work for an audience that is young and old, male and female.” But he also admitted that that plan is easier said than done.

Wow. Cliffy. Wow…that’s just…wow. There was almost an original thought in there somewhere. What’s next, they should shoot it on time and under budget? Should they use CAMERAS to film it? Oh! I know! They should put it somewhere where people can come watch it! Like in a big room! With a screen! And maybe they could do that all over the country!

I did not know that “complete drooling idiocy” was an occupational requirement to work at Epic Games. This is why it’s so hard to break into the gaming industry–no one’s willing to be repeatedly hit in the head with cinderblocks to reach that depth of brain damage. Cliffy B, with amazing advice like that it’s a wonder you can find your way home at night. Do you just live at Epic Games now? Did they make you a little cot? Is there a dish with your name on it at the office?

And while we all wait for the Gears of War movie to hit theatres and completely suck, try the action movie trivia on Kwanzoo to remind you of why it will suck.