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NYCC 2008: Gears of War 2 Panel

Written by: Ron Bricker

ImageHere we are, live from the New York Comic Convention… it’s Sunday morning and everyone’s, well, wrecked.  In fact, after this weekend, I am so tired of comics I can’t stand myself.  That’s when Erik and I checked the schedule and found this nice, little Gears of War 2 panel at 11:00.  We walked in, grabbed a seat, and waited.  We were 30 minutes early, but the room was already pretty full.  Every spare bit of time running up to the 11:00 start ushered in droves of people.  The large, empty hall eventually filled to near capacity just before things got started.

There was a small GoW2 poster on an easel.  They brought that baby out about 15 minutes before the panel even started… it received a line of (would be) photographers.




From the NYCC schedule:  “Gears of War took the Xbox by storm. Now, Gears of War 2 is poised to be an even bigger hit. Learn about the saga's origins and future from Michael Capps, President of Epic, and Josh Ortega, the writer of Gears of War 2


From the Q & A that you’ll find below, there were some tiny facts that shouldn’t be ignored.  These little tidbits include things like Capps calling the poison grenades “area denial weapons.”  There will be more scenes like the vehicle versus Kree one in the first installment, scenes that segway and blend the action of the game.  There will be a lot of fine tuning where the melee and cover systems are concerned.  There will also be tons of attention paid to the concept of all out war.  Michael Capps told us about how he has made it a priority to have a D-Day like scenario in the game, he made no promises but gave a lot of hints.

Ortega and Capps both spoke about the humaneness of the Locust Horde, or lack thereof.  Capps wanted the Locusts to be more than hulking monsters running towards the screen, flailing their arms wildly in your face.  Instead, he and Ortega look to show the Locusts as a living, breathing and, most importantly, thinking foe.  Ortega was quick to add that they would still, definitely, be monstrous.  Ortega said that we will be able to look inside the hive and view the Locusts culture.

Capps also joked about killing Cole halfway through the game.  It wasn't funny.

DLC was brought up briefly, and while Capps didn't want to commit to anything, he did mention that he hated when companies charge for every bit of content available online.  Capps went on to say that stuff like that should be free.  Here's hoping. 

No new videos or anything; we were given the Fenix vs Locust trailer.  You've seen it right?  If not, check it out here:

Then we learned that they weren’t going to be dropping any reveals on us… yup.

They did go into some detail regarding early design and what they could improve upon for the sequel.  Cliffy B. labels the game as “Bigger, Better, More Badass.”  Things like, "what would be better than cover?  Living cover"… there will be a creature that actually lives and provides cover during heated battles.

They also addressed the fact that the original lacked story.  To cope with that problem Microsoft brought Josh Ortega on, a comic book writer, to come write the script.  Josh called the world of Sera “rich” and expressed that there was a lot of stuff to cover in terms of story.  GoW2's levels were designed before the story, so Josh was had to adapt his story to the game and not the other way around.

Questions started rolling… watch as they slowly move from good to absolute shit.  Thus is the NYCC.  Enjoy watching my happiness devolve into the complicated emotion that is pain.

Q:  What was the decision to add Dom’s wife into the story?
Josh Ortega:  It was a way to involve Dom into the story.  It also added a level of personality to the story.  In the first game, you don’t really know what’s going on, but with 2 it can be expanded.  It adds a more human level to the game.

Q:  What is your opinion on the hierarchy of what’s important in video games?
Michael Capps:  Graphics seem to be the biggest hook.  The art and beauty of the first 15 minutes is important.  Then it’s controls, are you frustrated after the first hour?  Then comes gameplay and story and the parts that make you want to keep playing.

Does the second game go into how the war was actually started?
MC:  Don’t really touch on it too much.

The female voice at the end of the first is Mira the Locust Queen.  This has always been assumed, but Ortega and Capps both confirmed today.

Q:  Will we ever find out why Marcus was in the prison?
MC:  Yes, but not in 2.
JO:  It was covered in 1… briefly. But you’ll learn more over time.

Q:  DLC for the second game?
MC:  Don’t want to commit to that yet, but do want to service the fans by getting a lot of cool, free stuff afterwards.  Epic doesn't really appreciate the concept of paying more money for something that should be free.

Q:  Will there be more vehicle operation in 2?
JO:  "We’ll see… soon you’ll know."
MC:  That was important.  Not the best sequence ever, it just linked scenes of action.  Expect more of those segways between action.

Q:  How do the poison grenades work?
MC:  “’Area denial weapons,’ how about that?”

Two person pods available in multiplayer?
MC:  No plans.

Q:  I loved Cole Train.
MC:  Thanks… getting a lot of steam on how stereotypical he is.  Lester Rasta is just that way, he ad-libs a lot of stuff.

Q:  Cole Train is back?
MC:  “Of course, I can’t kill Cole Train… at least until half-way through.” [laughter]

Q:  Cover system too sticky…. More fine tuning?
MC:  Yes, absolutely.  It’s not perfect, the best ever, but not perfect.

Q:  More Berserkers and Hammer of Dawn?  Will there be something cooler?
MC:  Loved all of those things… yes there will be more stuff like that… you won’t be fighting Berserkers with the HoD… that doesn’t really change things.

Q: Friends in ranked multiplayer?
MC:  Wait for May, will be talking about that.  Aware that stuff like that should change.

Q:  4 Player co-op?
MC:  Not going to comment….. but we are making it more of a war.  The old one felt like a little spy fight, want D-Day, and a big, giant fight.

Q:  Adding new modes in multiplayer?  Like GTA4?
MC:  Don’t compete with titles like that…

Q:  GoW novels?
MC:  Absolutely.  Gives the chance to dig deeper in all directions.

Q:  Chainsaw Duels?
MC:  Yea.  They’re badass.  Wanted to overcome how weird the chainsaw duels felt in multiplayer.

Q:  Progress on the movie?
MC:  Complicated, mostly legal stuff.

Q:  Will we learned how the locust survived at the end of the battle?
JO:  Yes, you definitely learn a lot more about the Locusts.  Peek into the hollow.  The whole Locusts’ culture.