Gears of War (series)

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Gears of War
Gears of War logo.PNG
The official logo of the franchise
Genres Third-person shooter
Developers Epic Games
People Can Fly
Black Tusk Studios
Publishers Microsoft Studios
Platforms Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
Xbox One
First release Gears of War
November 7, 2006
Latest release Gears of War: Judgment
March 19, 2013
Official website gearsofwar.xbox.com

Gears of War is a military science fiction video game franchise created by Epic Games and now owned by Microsoft Studios. The series focuses on the conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent. The franchise consists of four third-person shooter video games, which have also been supplemented by a comic book series and five novels. According to Microsoft, the Gears of War series has sold over 22 million units and earned over $1 Billion (USD) in revenue as of January 2014.[1][2][3][4]

The first installment of Gears of War was released on November 7, 2006 for the Xbox 360. The game follows protagonist Marcus Fenix, a soldier in the Coalition of Ordered Governments tasked to lead a last-ditch effort to destroy the Locust Horde and save humanity. Two subsequent titles, Gears of War 2 (2008) and Gears of War 3 (2011), continued Fenix and humanity’s ongoing conflict with the Locust Horde and Lambent forces. In 2013, Epic Games and Microsoft released Gears of War: Judgment, a prequel to the series’ first title, which instead focuses on Damon Baird, one of Fenix's squad-mates.[5]

Gears of War was developed by Epic Games. Cliff Bleszinski, who has previously worked on Epic’s Unreal Tournament games, served the series’ lead game designer for the first three installments. He was inspired by gameplay elements from Resident Evil 4, Kill Switch, and Bionic Commando.[6] The series was also guided by Rod Fergusson, the executive producer and director of development of Epic Games until 2012.[7][8] All four installments of the Gears of War series used a modified version of the Unreal Engine 3 engine.[9][10] On January 27, 2014 Microsoft acquired all rights to the franchise from Epic Games. Canadian studio Black Tusk is developing the next Gears of War game for Xbox One.[11]

Gears of War became one of the bestselling franchises for the Xbox 360.[12] The series is well known for its emphasis on cover-based combat system, in which players can use objects to avoid gunfire or safely engage enemies.[13] All four installments in Gears of War featured several multiplayer modes that allowed players to compete against each other or team-up to battle AI opponents on Xbox Live. The Gears of War games have been amongst the most popular and most played titles on Xbox Live.[12][14]

Setting[edit]

The Gears of War series takes place on a fictional Earth-like planet named Sera, colonized by humans some time in the series' past. The planet had a history of conflict that took Sera to the brink of destruction. This shocked the people into a rejection of their destructive ways, leading to a golden age of culture, science and the arts,[15] though civil liberties and crime remained troublesome social issues.

The energy demands of Sera's population soon surpassed the planet's traditional energy sources like petroleum and nuclear. A search for new energy sources led to the discovery of Imulsion, a glowing liquid with near-unlimited energy potential found in chambers and veins beneath the planet's surface.[16] Due to its potential, wars broke out over control of the Imulsion, the largest being a 79-year war between the COG and the Union of Independent Republics (UIR), which ended when COG opted to use its orbital laser weapon, the Hammer of Dawn, to ravage UIR cities. The COG negotiated peace treaties with the remaining collations, becoming the dominant government on Sera.

Shortly after this, the bulk of the population was wiped out by a new threat, sentient creatures called Locust that spewed out from underground and attacked across the planet. The onset became known as Emergence Day. COG evacuated survivors to Jacinto Plateau, where the hard rock would prevent the Locust from tunneling from beneath. Those humans who could not leave their homes or refused to do so became known as the Stranded. COG then employed a "scorched earth" tactic, turning the Hammer of Dawn against its own cities to deny the Locust any tactical advantages. COG ordered its troops, "Gears", to continue to protect the Plateau while finding ways to end the Locust threat completely.

The first game occurs about fourteen years after Emergence Day; Marcus Fenix is a former Gear who was imprisoned for abandoning his post to protect his father Adam, a lead researcher in studying the Locust. Marcus is rescued from military prison by his closest friend, Dominic "Dom" Santiago, moments before the prison is consumed by Locust attacks. He soon re-enlisted in the Gears because they lacked sufficient forces. Marcus leads Delta Team, including Dom, Augustus Cole, and Damon Baird, into discovering the source of the Locust. Using research left over by his father, Delta Team ignites a Lightmass bomb at this source, destroying a large number of Locust. However, the Queen Locust, Myrrah, escapes, and vows revenge for the destruction.

In Gears of War 2, Myrrah regroups her remaining forces and organizes a counterattack using giant earth-eating worms to whittle the land away from the Jacinto Plateau and sink it. Gears forces, including Delta Squad, are sent underground to attack the Locust directly and stop the action. They find a secret COG research facility, as well as Locust slaves where captured humans, including Dom's wife Maria, have been forced to work. As they invade the main Locust base, they find that the Locust are fighting on another front against what they name Lambent, Locust forces that have been corrupted by exposure to the Imulsion. Despite this, Myrrah refuses to end the war. In a hastily-made decision, Marcus decides to sink Jacinto Plateau purposely, with the surrounding sea water flooding the Locust and Lambent tunnels. Myrrah and other Locust barely escape, while a radio broadcast from Adam, heard after the game credits finish, begs to know what Marcus has done.

Gears of War 3 occurs two years later. Without Jacinto, COG has collapsed and remnants of humanity work to scavenge supplies while facing new threats from Locust and Lambent forces that have fled to the surface. Marcus learns of a rumor that his father is being held at Azura, a resort island, and with Delta Team and new allies, he heads toward it. While working to acquire Imulsion for a submarine, they learn that humans can also be affected by Imulsion and become Lambent as well. Dom sacrifices himself to allow Marcus and the others to continue on. At Azura, Marcus finds his father, secured in a former hotel, who explains that he had discovered the corruption of Imulsion before, and has been trying to find a way to eradicate it for both humans and Locust. Marcus is shocked to discover that Adam has been working with Myrrah. Adam explains that he found the means to cure humanity and end the Lambent threat using an energy dish at the top of the hotel, and while he has been desperately working to accommodate the Locust after promising this to Myrrah, he has run out of time and that the energy wave that will cure humans will kill the Locust. Myrrah arrives and discovers Adam's betrayal. The Gears fight off Myrrah and kill her, allowing Adam to activate the device, which also ends up killing him as he was his own guinea pig for the technology. Marcus takes a moment to consider his losses before joining with his friends and other humans in their victory.

The fourth game, Gears of War: Judgment, focuses on Baird and Cole during the early days after Emergence Day. With military cadet Sofia Hendrick and Garron Paduk, a former UIR soldier, they comprise Kilo Squad. Baird disobeys orders to use a secret weapon of mass destruction to destroy Locust forces and save survivors at Halvo Bay. Despite also killing the powerful Locust leader Karn, because of disobeying orders the squad is court-martialed and Baird is demoted from officer to private. A separate campaign, "Aftermath", portrays Baird, Cole, and Paduk in the hours before the activation of the anti-Imulsion energy wave.

Gameplay[edit]

Gears of War is a third person shooter game, with its core concepts being derived from Resident Evil 4's "over the shoulder" perspective, Kill Switch's cover system, and Bionic Commando's swinging action akin to moving between points of cover.[17] The series focuses on using cover to tactically engage the enemy in battle to avoid taking damage. While behind cover, the player can fire blindly and inaccurately at their opponent, or can look around the cover and aim carefully, though exposing himself to enemy fire; the player can also slide along cover, move between nearby cover, or vault over cover to race to a new point of cover. As the player takes damage, the "Crimson Omen" appears on the HUD, becoming more defined as the player nears low health levels. The player can regenerate their health by staying out of harm's way for a short while. Should the player take too much damage, they will become incapacitated unless revived by a teammate; depending on game mode, the player may be able to recover from this state on their own, or may die after a short amount of time if not revived. When a combatant is down, a member of the other side may also attempt to execute the downed player via a "curb stomp" or other brutal method. Some types of damage will immediately kill the player with no chance of revival, such as explosive damage. There are five levels on both of the games, but they are referred to as "acts" and each act is formed into a certain amount of chapters.

Players in Gears can only carry four different weapons, with the exception of the fourth game, allowing two weapon slots one grenade slot, which may be filled with grenades, one pistol-type weapon, up to four grenades of a specific type (Fragmentation, Smoke, Ink and Incendiary) and two other weapons, which include, but are not limited to, assault rifles, a sniper rifle, grenade launchers and an explosive bow. Players can either obtain ammo or swap out their current weapons with any weapon dropped by a downed foe or from those scattered around the various maps. Most weapons feature the "Active Reload" ability: either after a weapon has run out of an ammo clip or when the player starts a manual reload, a meter is shown on screen, and the player can attempt to stop the meter in a certain marked area. If the player stops the meter in the marked area, their reload will be completed faster than if they did not attempt an Active Reload, and if the player can stop the meter at a specific section of the marked area, they will gain a temporary slight damage boost with each reloaded shot and a faster reload. If the player stops the meter outside this area, their gun will become temporarily jammed and slow down the reload time. While most of the weapons are based on standard shooter archetypes, Gears's signature weapon is the Lancer, an assault rifle that has a mounted chainsaw bayonet which can be used in close quarter combat to instantly kill a standard foe. Most other weapons also can be used to bash opponents in melee, or in the case of grenades, can be stuck to a foe, exploding a few seconds later. In Gears of War 2 & 3, all four types of grenades (fragmentation, ink, incendiary, and smoke), can be planted on any reachable surface, detonating when an opponent comes close to it. If the opponent spots the grenade, he or she can detonate it from a safe distance by shooting it.

All Gears games feature a campaign mode that can be played cooperatively with one other player. The two players take the roles of two COG soldiers, Marcus Fenix and Dominic "Dom" Santiago, as they fight the Locust. In the third game the campaign allows for up to four players to play together at the same time. The campaign mode features several levels of difficulties. At various times, the campaign will offer a choice of paths the first player can select; if the second player is present, they will be forced to take the other path. The third and fourth players in Gears of War 3 will be separated between the paths of the first and second players. In these areas, all players generally have to work together to get them through the section, such as by one player providing covering fire while the second player opens a switch that allows the first player to then proceed.

The competitive multiplayer mode in Gears 1 features 8 players while in Gears 2 features up to ten players split between COG and Locust forces in a number of gameplay types. Modes include "Warzone" and "Execution", both similar to a typical deathmatch, and "Annex" and "King of the Hill" where teams have to control a marked zone on the map. In the mode "Guardian,"(only in Gears 2) one member of each team is designated as the leader. As long as the leader is still alive, his or her team mates can respawn indefinitely. As soon as the leader is executed, his or her team mates can no longer respawn.

Gears of War 3 brings a new dynamic to the series. In past games the AI went around the obstacle even if it had been destroyed. However, Gears 3 the AI will recognize that the obstacle has been destroyed and are free to walk over it.[18]

Games[edit]

Aggregate review scores
As of November 7, 2011.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Gears of War (X360) 93.97%[19]
(PC) 87.07%[20]
(X360) 94[21]
(PC) 87[22]
Gears of War 2 (X360) 93.32%[23] (X360) 93[24]
Gears of War 3 (X360) 91.49%[25] (X360) 91[26]
Gears of War: Judgment (X360) 77.53%[27] (X360) 79[28]

Gears of War[edit]

Gears of War is a third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Studios. It was initially released for the Xbox 360 on November 7, 2006 in North America, and on November 17, 2006 in Europe.[29] While it was initially released as an exclusive title the Xbox 360 it was also released for the PC on June 11, 2007, and is currently the only game in the series to have a PC version. Gears of War follows Delta Squad's efforts to help deploy a Lightmass bomb deep in the Locust tunnels to wipe out the Locust threat.

Gears of War 2[edit]

Gears of War 2 is a third-person shooter video game published by Microsoft Studios.[30] It is the sequel to Gears of War, and was announced by lead designer Cliff Bleszinski during the February 20, 2008 Game Developers Conference. It was released worldwide November 7, 2008. The game uses a heavily upgraded version of the Unreal Engine 3.[31] Gears of War 2 takes place after the first game, where the Locust are now attempting to sink Jacinto Plateau, and the COG forces have decided to launch a counter-offensive to stop them before they can complete their attempt. Ultimately the COG sinks Jacinto themselves to flood the Locust's home, the Hollow and drown them.

A PC version of the game was cancelled by the developers, citing poor sales of the original PC version of Gears of War as well as concerns over piracy.

Gears of War 3[edit]

Gears of War 3 is the concluding part to the trilogy. Originally with an April 6, 2011 release date, it was delayed until September 20, 2011 due to its many critical errors.[32]

Gears of War 3 takes place 18 months after the end of Gears of War 2. Marcus, Dom, and the last remnants of humanity must band together to survive against the Locust and Lambent, while trying to find Marcus's father and end the war.[33]

Gears of War: Judgment[edit]

Gears of War: Judgment is the fourth installment of the Gears of War series released on March 19, 2013.[34] It was first announced on May 31, 2012 and was revealed at E3 on June 4, 2012. At the conference they showed off the first trailer, mainly focused on series mainstay Baird. Baird will be accompanied with Augustus "Cole Train" Cole and two new characters. The two new characters are: Garron Paduk, and Sofia Hendrik, these 4 characters[35] make up Kilo Squad. Kilo Squad is put on trial for by another new character Ezra Loomis.[35]

Future[edit]

During E3 2013, Microsoft Studios vice president Phil Spencer commented on the future of the franchise, saying: “I love the Gears franchise, I think Epic’s done a really nice job building that. I think there’s an opportunity to spend some time on Gears and on what it means. It’s a rare franchise that managed to ship four times on the platform – 1, 2, 3 and then Judgment. I also think it’s also a really interesting time to launch new IP, and that’s something we’re really invested in. You saw Quantum Break, you saw Sunset Overdrive, you saw Crimson Dragon, you saw games big and small from many different developers. I think we were counting, and we had eight or nine different nationalities on stage. It’s a cool opportunity to bring a lot of new content.”[36]

On January 27, 2014, Microsoft announced that they had purchased the rights of the franchise from Epic Games, as a new game will be developed by Black Tusk Studios for Xbox One.[37] Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production at Epic Games on the Gears of War franchise, will join Microsoft and play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk on the development of the franchise going forward.[38]

Music[edit]

The video game music for Gears of War was composed by Kevin Riepl, who has previously worked with Epic Games on soundtracks for Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Championship.[39]

The music for Gears of War 2 and Gears of War 3 was composed by Steve Jablonsky.[40]

Additionally, the Gears of War franchise has inspired music from other artists. American thrash metal band Megadeth recorded a song for the first games release, first as an instrumental then with lyrics. For the third game, rapper Ice-T, who was cast as Griffin, reunited his metal band Bodycount to record a song centered around the Gears universe.

Adaptations[edit]

Board Game[edit]

Gears of War: The Board Game was released in 2011 by Fantasy Flight Games. Designed by Corey Konieczka, it is a cooperative game for up to four players, including the option for solo play. Each player takes control of a COG (represented by a miniature pre-painted in red), fighting their way through randomly generated maps filled with Locust soldiers (represented by a miniature pre-painted in light gray). These are controlled by an artificial intelligence (AI) deck of cards: after each player finishes his or her turn, he or she draws a card from the AI deck and takes actions for each Locust creature. Players play cards and roll die to take actions and to resolve shooting and defense. The games proceeds until the player team successfully completes the mission; there are seven of them, each featuring different objectives and enemies in randomly generated map layouts.

Since its launch the game has received one expansion, Mission Pack 1, which brought more weapons, two new missions and new enemies, including General RAAM.

Books[edit]

A series of novels based on the fictional universe has been created, all written by Karen Traviss. The books expand on the games and detail events which occur in between installments. Gears of War: Aspho Fields was the first in an expected trilogy,[41] although the total numbers of books has since grown to five. It focused on the history of the characters and the battle at Aspho Fields, but also took place during the events between Gears of War and Gears of War 2.[42]

The second novel, Gears of War: Jacinto's Remnant, continued where Gears of War 2 left off, with Jacinto's survivors fleeing the ruins of the city and searching for a new safe haven. Later they enter into a new conflict against the Stranded who have begun a guerilla war against the remnants of the COG. The book also detailed events 1 year after E-Day, when the new COG Chairman authorized the Hammer of Dawn counterattack.

Gears of War: Anvil Gate is the third novel, released on August 31, 2010.[43] The novel details the COG attempting to establish themselves on the island of Vectes, while trying to contain a Stranded insurgency and the resurgent Lambent. A flashback story details a young Hoffman during the Siege of Anvil Gate.

Gears of War: Coalition's End, released on August 2, 2011,[44] is the fourth novel in the series, taking place immediately after the events of Anvil Gate; 18 months after the end of the second game. The novel details the COG's struggle with the Lambent attacks on the island of Vectes, and leads directly into Gears of War 3.

Gears of War: The Slab is the fifth and final book in the series released on May 1, 2012.[45] The novel focuses on Marcus Fenix's time in Jacinto Maximum Security Prison prior to Gears of War, and reveals more backstory on him, Victor Hoffman, and Adam Fenix.

Comic-book series[edit]

Gears of War: Hollow was the first comic book series based on the Gears of War world. It was first announced by Epic Games and DC Comics on 18 April 2008 and was released in December 2008. The series was published under DC's Wildstorm imprint and was written by Joshua Ortega, with art by Liam Sharp. The story arc followed Jace Stratton, a young recruit of Delta Squad who will be making an appearance in Gears of War 3 and Michael Barrick, a sole Gear found by Delta. The arc was 6 issues long and ended in May 2009.

Two stand-alone comic books stories were then released. Issue 7, "The Quickening", followed the life of Tai Kaliso from his home in the South Islands to the torture den of the Locust Horde. This was released in June 9.

The second stand-alone was Harper's Story. In Gears of War 2 there are collectibles which describe the end of Sgt. Jonathan Harper, a Gears Veteran. He was captured by the Locust during the events of the Hollow. He managed not only to survive the vile deeds of the Locust Horde but also to escape. He helped a family reach safety, taking the bullets into his own poor, broken body before falling to the ground.

Issue number 9 begins a new arc, Barren, the first part was released in September 2009. We are introduced to the "other side" of the life of humans faced by total annihilation. Birthing Creches, or Breeding Farms, filled with women who are there to do just what it says on the box ~ have baby after baby ~ and nothing else. With humanity dying out and no fresh faces to replace fallen Gears, new humans are needed. The story focuses on an escapee from one of these centers named Alex Brand. Declared to be barren at the age of 18, Brand was kicked from the Breeding Farm she was born in, sent to Boot Camp and trained to be a Gear. She accompanies Delta and Sigma Squads as they investigate a mysterious beacon call from the place at which she was born, which was thought to have been destroyed by Locust.[46][47][48]

Film[edit]

On March 20, 2007, it was announced that New Line Cinema had purchased the rights to make a Gears of War film, with Stuart Beattie writing the script along with Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, who will be producing it.[49] Producer Wyck Godfrey said of the film adaptation, "I'm not a gamer, but what blew me away about Gears was how it captures the mythology of a war mission and how high the stakes are."[50] On August 3, 2007, AICN.com reported that Len Wiseman was to direct the movie adaptation of Gears of War.[51] though on March 30, 2007, Godfrey stated that they have "a director we're about to attach" in order to film the movie during 2009 and release in 2010. Cliff Bleszinski, the lead designer of the Gears of War video games, will be an executive producer.[52]

Wiseman was officially signed on in June 2008, with Chris Morgan performing script rewrites.[53] Morgan hinted on G4's televised coverage of Comic Con 2008 that the film would be a prequel to the first game, "it could explain how Marcus Fenix got his scar."[54] According to Morgan, Wiseman "wants to make it as realistic as possible, and to blur those lines where your mind says, 'Oh, it's a big CGI film.'".[55] On December 8, 2009, Wyck Godfrey sat down with MakingOf to talk about the "Gears of War" movie, and said that "to tell the epic story of an alien planet that's living in a horrific environment just feels like the wrong mood right now".[56]

In April 2010, New Line considerably scaled back the $100 million budget and epic story, stalling progress while they wait for a rewrite. Len Wiseman is no longer involved as he shifts his focus to other projects.[57]

In April 2013, Variety reported that "Creative Artists Agency is eager to meet with producers in the coming weeks and set up the project elsewhere," and that Stuart Beattie will write the film.[58] Scott Stuber is name to produce the film.[59]

Merchandise[edit]

TriForce Sales has obtained a license from Epic Games to create full-scale replicas of the armor and weapons from the game, with assistance of sculptor Sid Garrand of Nightmare Armor Studios. The units will be available for advanced order in July 2008.[60]

In July 2007,[61] NECA announced they would be producing Gears of War merchandise, including action figures. The first series, available in the second quarter of 2008, included Augustus Cole, Anthony Carmine, Baird, a Locust Drone, a Locust Sniper, Dom Santiago and Marcus Fenix.[62]

Mindzeye Studios has created foot high statues of Gears of War characters.[63]

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External links[edit]