Cole Train Coming Back to Gears 2 and more...
"Private Augustus Cole. Alpha squad!"
Coverage of the Gears of War 2 presentation at New York Comic Con:
Epic president Mike Capps, Gears 2 writer Joshua Ortega, and Randy Falk of NECA, who makes the Gears figures, talked about the upcoming game.
What's in store for fan favorite Cole Train? An audience member wanted to make sure that Cole would be back for the second game. Capps promised that he would. "You can't get rid of Cole Train!" He explained, and then added — jokingly? "At least not until halfway through." Capps did like to joke a lot during the presentation, but perhaps ominously, Ortega added, "No one's safe in Gears."
Capps had talked about how Cole Train's character's personality owes a lot to creative ad-libbing by Lester "Mighty Rasta" Speight. Ortega says that having such an enthusiastic crew of voice actors is inspiring as a writer: "In Gears 1, any deficiencies in story were totally made up for by the talent of the voice crew. Everyone is so perfectly cast, and they love their roles. They're into it, and they can ad-lib all day; it's pretty amazing. It really does make it where you can jump in... you have an advantage. For me, I can come in and hear the actors' voices, and I write from that."
So what might lie ahead for Marcus in Gears 2? "We've got a nice arc for Marcus. Dom has a great arc in this one, too. It's going to really be fun to see people's reaction to Dom and this expansion on his story. I think that he and Marcus will be on a very equal plain by the end, where you know a lot about both of them. And we've got a lot of really fun twists in store — and there's gonna be some pretty heavy, emotional stuff."
Continued Ortega, "We wanted it to be really emotionally resonant, and part of the reason for bringing Maria, Dom's wife, into the story is that I think it's really powerful in an epic when you also have a micro-level, personal connection. So you get the big story, but then you have this emotional center to connect back to so it's not just all big stuff, nameless people. When you have someone who's actually been affected, they have a name, they're a character... I think that's big. So I'd say we're really going for strong storytelling, and definitely with surprises.
And finally a word on the chainsaw. If you know anything about GOW, you know that the original chainsaw bayonet was almost not included in Gears 1. In fact, if you take a look at the post before this one, you can see the lancer rifle without the chainsaw attached. Imagine that. I believe the collectors edition videos for Gears 1 reveals the story of how Cliffy B., the lead designer for Gears of War, fought to keep it in the game.
It's interesting the chainsaw ended up being pivotal to the Gears experience, given that Capps intimated that he was initially dismissive of the idea. "The reason [it] exists is because our characters are so bloody expensive to draw," he said during the panel. What ultimately started off as a way to reconcile the relatively complex character models by forcing players into intimate contact with them (compare a close-up of a Locust grunt to, say, a Covenant Elite from Halo 3) ended up birthing the interactions that would come to define the game's ferocious brand of combat.
According to Capps, they aren't going to have to rely on those sorts of contrivances in the sequel. Pointing to the video showcased at the Game Developers Conference last month, Capps says that the team is aiming to deliver the experience of large-scale conflict that was absent in the original Gears. "It never really felt like a giant war," he said. "It always felt like sort of a spy incursion, sneaking behind enemy lines." According to him, the technology is now able to deliver on that vision in a big way. No more smoke and mirrors to separate players from the bigger conflict, no more small-squad warfare, and no slower deliberate pacing compared to the more fast-paced shooters out there. Capps, in short, "[wants his] D-Day." It'll be interesting to see if his team can transform Gears into a platform for that sort of experience.