Gotta give the Gears of War series credit. We're three games in, and designer Cliff Bleszinski still believes in keeping things fresh.
Each successive title in the cover-based third-person shooter has offered its own fresh new take. With Gears of War 2, it was the dynamic cover "meatshield" feature in which players could use enemies as a shield. Or in Gears of War 3, the enemies can mutate — not to mention the game is less brown! Another addition is bringing female "pencil pusher" Anya into combat.
For Bleszinski and his team, she is more of a James Cameron heroine — think a buff Linda Hamilton — than a Jerry Bruckheimer feminine — think a Megan Fox. Gears, Bleszinski contests, is "equal opportunity", so expect Anya to be thrown into combat with the same vigor that the male protagonists are. (Or, the same way James Cameron would!)
A movie version of Gears of War is in the works. The movie seems to be in limbo at the moment, and Bleszinski describes the project as "touch and go". Confident in the producers that are backing the film version, the developers are moving ahead with the picture and seeing what will happen.
A possible movie on the horizon. A series of novels. Comic books. A Gears narrative has emerged — an entire universe. According to Bleszinski, some on the team have had their heads explode over trying to keep everything straight, but don't expect the team to become slaves to Gears of War minutia. According to Bleszinski, "It's drowning in your own fiction." Mixing it up is important and has been a fundamental part of the series from the beginning.
But, so many other game franchises eventually become insular, attempting to please the core fan base, but largely impenetrable to those outside it. Continually keeping things fresh in the inevitable Gears of War sequels could very well prevent that from happening. Or not.