Being neither pirates nor attendees of the most recent Gears of War preview event, we haven't played the campaign for Gears of War 3.
Thank goodness Gears executive producer Rod Fergusson Tweets out links to interviews people do with him and impressions they publish about his stuff. That helped me learn a few things about the September Xbox 360 game's campaign.
This morning, Rod woke up and re-Tweeted the news that Computer and Video Games had chatted with him about the campaign. It's true. He's the star of a short video that is scored with some very sad music. He explains that the new game is the end of the trilogy (whatever that means for a hit series) and explains that the campaign is both more personal and more global. Watch this one if you have only four more minutes to spare on Gears today.
Implying that he reads his gaming sites alphabetically, Rod got to Destructoid next and re-Tweeted their preview. The Destructoid folks, playing an early part of the campaign as the loudmouth hero Cole, were impressed by that thing that Gears of War games aren't known for: Gears of War 3's quality writing: 'While looking at his own image — which is plastered all over the place — he said something that, frankly, threw me right off. "Ever feel like you're dead, but nobody's ever told you?' This characterization, in combination with a fantastic playable football section that I don't want to spoil too much, made this segment of the first act the most engaging for me. Read this one if you want to know more about the game's writing."
Shortly after D comes J, which is why Rod next re-tweeted Joystiq's preview. Sure, the writer of that one complains that the computer-controlled buddies in Gears 3 aren't any better at reviving you than they were in the previous games, but he does a good job explaining that this new game feels harder than the older ones. He also explains the new Halo-style scoring system that's been added to the campaign:
"players can unlock modifiers which range from the useful, such as no ammo boxes for boosted XP, to the more zany, like the modifier which causes every killed Locust to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, firing on its comrades during the final moments of life. Scoring is largely the same as in Halo (see: competitive!) and dependent upon performance, but a group meter adds a slightly different spin. This meter builds as the Locust body count rises, modifying the points players receive in combat, and decreases once a player has been downed. It's a really exciting addition."
Rod promoted the "spoiler-free" (not his words) Gears act one preview at Gearscon. They may not have included plot spoilers but they do a great job explaining how the Gears 3 campaign's combat feels less linear than the combat in Gears of War 2:
Gears had ditched the more linear fashion adopted by Gears 2's campaign in favour of combat bowls, giving you multiple approaches, hidden weapons and different enemies to tackle in almost every single firefight. Diversity is simply everywhere, from the deck of Raven's Nest with its wide open spaces and multiple levels of combat to below deck with its small cramped nature and its closed corridor flanks. Later in the game, I found myself fighting transforming Lambent Drudges, Lambent Wretches, Lambent Drones and stalks all at once – the combat is simply breathtaking and constantly requires every ounce of your attention, blending that perfect mix of variety, strategy and shooting to create a gripping blend of third person shooter action that was actually pretty exhausting to play.
Next was GameSpot, whose preview covered a lot of the same ground as the people earlier than them in the alphabet. They explain, as others did, that the game takes place 18 months after the previous game, with the Gears heroes living on an aircraft carrier.
GamesRadar got the Rod Fergusson bump next. Rod tweeted a link to their video preview of 20 minutes of the campaign. Spoilers are in this one, of course. So is Rod, who narrates the whole thing. The video kicks off with Rod setting up the level in which you play as Cole, the same level complimented by Destructoid.
GotGame also ran a video interview with Rod. He tweeted it. Am I a bad person for starting to skip watching these by this point? No offense to GotGame, who I'm sure are nice people. It's just tough to follow a 20-minute video blow-out. I did catch Rod saying telling these folks that Gears of War 3 has more easter eggs than its predecessors.
Rod also Tweeted 1Up's preview, one that risks the wrath of spoiler-haters by stating that. "The campaign opens with a dream sequence involving the moment he, Adam Fenix, supposedly died." But dad ain't dead, which is the driver for the plot in Gears of War 3. The 1Up crew do a good job of ferreting out some intriguing details from the game's collectibles. Read that one if you want that kind of color.
Next came the curveball. Rod tweeted a Game Informer link, but it wasn't to a preview. It was to their news article that states: ""If you don't value this community, you don't value this experience, then we don't value you." The story is based on a Eurogamer inteview with Rod in which he explains that his company, Epic Games, can (and may) ban people who played and leaked info from a pirated version of the game.
And now we're up to the present and the point of this article. Rod's had nothing to Tweet from Kotaku yet today. Rod Fergusson, this one's for you.
Gears of War 3 will be out on September 20 for the Xbox 360.
(Top video from Gears of War 3 Act One Preview | Gearscon)