If you watched Microsoft's E3 2011 press briefing for its Gears of War 3 demo—played by Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski and Ice T—you only saw half the story. At an E3 demo, we saw the other half of that Tarantino-inspired battle.
That campaign encounter, "Abandon Ship," pits two teams of COG soldiers against a Locust Leviathan. In addition to showing off a thunderously loud Gears 3 firefight, it also showed off the game's new vertex deformation, bringing more destructive environments to the September-due Xbox 360 game.
Bleszinski walked us through a slightly different take on the Gears of War 3 co-op gameplay demonstration from Microsoft's E3 2011 briefing, switching a few things up. For one, he put COG squad leader Marcus in that chunky Silverback, the bipedal mech that offers players heavy armor, deadly firepower and some mobile cover.
Bleszinski deployed the Silverback, locking it in place with a tap of the A button. That immobilization gives the mech suit the ability to fire rockets and lets your squadmates take cover behind it. The pilot can also hop out when the Silberback is in its deployed state giving him or her some protection from fire.
After the first half of the demo concluded, we switched from Marcus, Dom, Anya and Jace's perspective to that of Cole, Sam, Carmine and Baird's. Those two segments played out during the same time frame, letting the player listen in on the other half of Dom's conversations, fleshing out the story a bit further.
Bleszinski said the non-linear storytelling mode was influenced by the structure of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, a method the director uses frequently in his films. It was a refreshing spin on the Gears co-op and single-player campaign structure, but something Bleszinski says will not be used throughout Gears 3's story-driven mode.
The second half of our Gears of War 3 single-player campaign introduced us to a new weapon, the Vulcan Cannon, a two-player co-op weapon. A hulking mini-gun, it has an ammo tank so heavy it requires a second player to pick it up, rendering the ammo holder unable to fire his or her weapon. Should the Vulcan Cannon wielder not have a co-op partner to help them lug bullets, they'll be tethered in place.
But they'll want to use it. It's incredibly deadly and sounds like a handheld AC-130 gun, unloading bullets with a cruel-sounding buzz.
The Vulcan Cannon is an "altruistic weapon," Cliff said, and will be available in the game's new Horde mode as well, likely granting the ammo-holding partner kill assists. Cliff also busted out the Oneshot, which you may have played in the Gears 3 beta, the long distance rifle that eats through shields and turns Locust hordes into a fine red mist.
The campaign demo concluded with a different perspective on the death of the gargantuan, half-blinded Leviathan, with the COG team on the bridge above dumping that cage full of Tickers onto their massive enemy below. Throughout, the dialogue between the COGs filled in, became clear and added some levity to the violent ruckus.
In addition to walking us through campaign highlights, Bleszinski addressed a few visible tweaks to Gears of War 3's visual style, which has a bit more color and a less desaturated look to its world. The developer said its making an effort to appeal to a broader audience with its wider palette, but says it's not moving into the brighter hues of an Uncharted game.
Clearly, screen shots of Gears of War 3 illustrate that the browns and grays for which Epic Games and Gears are famous haven't gone anywhere, but they're introducing some color in this entry.
He also spoke about the newer, streamlined look and feel to the COG armor, which has been stripped down and de-bulkified. Bleszinski called Gears of War 3 a "summertime game," with the COGs adapting their look in response to the heat. And, in his words, "I want to see as much sexy man flesh as possible."
That high-definition, cooperative man flesh-watching experience is coming to the Xbox 360 on September 20.