Cliff Bleszinski may be the face of Epic Games but Mark Rein is the voice. No tight jeans, diamond earrings or chainsaw-waving japes for him - just a wardrobe full of polo shirts and a great big bundle of opinions.
First things first, apologies if you were disappointed, having read our Eurogamer Expo preview on Monday, to discover that the MotorStorm: Pacific Rift vehicle outside the Expo entrance was a monster truck instead of a Humvee. We are also sorry that so many of you missed the chance to touch Bertie's moustache, which endures even now atop the sweater-clad granite torso and arms of news-typing sultriness.
Gears of War is what people who don't play videogames probably think all videogames look like. Meaty, rubble-strewn and dribbling splatter, its soldiers-versus-lizards storyline suggests entertainment of the direct-to-DVD kind, where characters are little more than a means to an explosion and the only brains are smeared across a wall.
If it's any consolation to Cliff Bleszinski, we're forever picking on developers at E3, so he shouldn't feel bad that our first question is whether he was actually playing Gears of War 2 at Microsoft's conference. For those who missed it, the demo began and Marcus advanced towards a smoke-drowned Jacinto skyline before the video feed stopped and reloaded, giving the impression we were actually watching a recording.
Until January this year, Kudo Tsunoda was best known for producing the Def Jam and Fight Night series. Well, that and sporting ridiculous sunglasses at all times, and wearing the kind of clothes and jewellery more usually seen on rap stars than people who make videogames for a living.
Gears of War 2 lead designer Cliff Bleszinski is relaxed, but animated. He's relaxed because he thinks Gears of War 2 is going to be "hands down" the best game out this Christmas, never mind just on Xbox 360, and because he reckons the Internet reaction to the first trailer was 85 percent positive. He's animated because he's Cliff Bleszinski, and he gets excited - no more so than when he's talking about his game. Remember the GDC unveiling? All he had to do was introduce a trailer and he turned up with a chainsaw.
For many visitors to Microsoft's Spring Showcase, the highlight of the day will be Gears of War 2. But then for many of those who own an Xbox 360, Gears of War 2 will be the highlight of the year - at least that's what Cliff Bleszinski reckons, as you'll know when you read our interview with him later today. He's standing before us and a dozen or so other journalists to show off the game, or as he puts it, to "share the love and share the magic".
When we booked our GDC interview slot with Mark Rein, Gears of War 2 was just an inevitability. By the time we sat down with him on the Thursday, Cliff Bleszinski had carved up the stage with a Lancer chainsaw bayonet and we knew it would be "more badass". With that in mind, we tried to prise some more details out of Mark and also talked about the new technology Tim Sweeney demonstrated for Unreal Engine 3 on 360, Unreal Tournament III's reception and Epic's future plans, and what exactly the PC Gaming Alliance - of which Epic is a member - is going to do for PC gamers.
Last year was "quite big" for Epic. Gears of War is, as Mark Rein gleefully tells us, the number one game of the generation so far. Unreal became the engine of choice for next-gen developers. There's no Gears sequel this year, but 2007 will still be big - if not bigger - for the little developer from North Carolina. Unreal Tournament 3 is set to launch in November on PS3 and PC. Gears of War is coming to PC with new content. The games that Unreal powers are starting to arrive in droves - headlined by the likes of BioShock. So Mark Rein, Epic's vice president and chief evangelist, is as giddy as ever. When we run into him in Leipzig, it takes us 15 minutes to drag him into the interview room - he just wants to shoot the breeze. Fortunately he saved some good bits for the tape. Read on for the latest on UT3, Gears PC, the Gears film and Unreal Engine 3.