The Gears of War series is known for its blockbuster action and buckets of gore, but developer Epic reckons it spins a decent yarn, too.
Executive Producer of the Gears of War franchise Rod Fergusson pointed towards the Maria scene from Gears of War 2 as evidence that Epic was doing something right when it comes to storytelling.Spoilers ahead.
"We were successful with the Maria scene," Fergusson told Eurogamer. "If you were willing to go along for the ride of why you're playing that game, if you were able to take part in that story and you weren't skipping every cutscene, a lot of people were affected by the Maria scene.
"The YouTube posting of it and the listing of all the people saying they cried, and when we were at Comic-Con I'm like, raise your hand if you cried at the Maria death and a third of the audience raised their hands - I'm like, OK, we've reached some people, clearly.
"Do I think that was the pinnacle of our ability to tell story? No. But it was a good moment."
According to Fergusson, Epic's own research shows players think Gears of War is well paced – and that's why story sits comfortably alongside the bombastic gameplay the series is known for.
"You have to find the pace," he said. "When we do customer satisfaction surveys they come back and say the thing they loved about it the most was the pace. The pace felt right, the mix between story and game we were OK with.
"Gears 1 to us was a summer blockbuster popcorn movie. It was meant to be an Independence Day or Predator kind of feel. It wasn't meant to be anything really deep. We wanted enough story to sustain the action. With 2 we were like, let's push it a little bit further."
Still, Fergusson admits Epic can improve the quality of its storytelling – indeed it has done with Gears of War 3.
"With each version we get more confident with our storytelling and better at our storytelling, both from a technical aspect – our cinematics in 3 are way better than our cinematics in 1 and 2 – and with deeper writing, with Karen [Traviss, author of three Gears novels] and deeper character development.
"We're constantly improving. We'll get better and better."
Story plays a more important role in Gears of War 3 than in previous games, Fergusson said.
Gears of War 3 is set 18 months after the fall of Jacinto. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, forced to live on an island as the Gears fight against the Locust from an aircraft carrier.
The introduction of four-player co-operative play means players now get the chance to explore the personalities of characters who were previously supplemental, Fergusson said.
"In 3 we're trying to conclude the story, so we're swinging a little more on the story side. The pace is still there. It's the biggest campaign we've ever done, and a lot of it has to do with the amount of story we're trying to get across.
"For the first time ever you'll get to play as Cole and not have Marcus or Dom around, and get to see what it's like to be Cole and experience his emotions and his side of the story as him rather than as a witness."
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