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EA Exec: Foot In Mouth?
game: Gears of War
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
developer: Epic
date posted: 01:57 PM Sun Nov 12th, 2006
last revision: 01:55 PM Sun Nov 12th, 2006

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Click to read.We\'re all entitled to our opinions. And we\'re all allowed to dissagree with other people\'s opinions. A few days ago EA exec Alain Tascan, General Manager from EA Montreal had this to say (posted originally on Eurogamer) about the recently released \"Gears of War\":

\"What is Gears of War? I mean Gears of War brings nothing in terms of innovation to the shooter... Like, zero.

\"Only two very brave UK-based journalists said, \'You know what, Gears of War is a great game but it\'s like what Quake was a few years ago.

\"Why are people loving it so much? It\'s like added production value, incredible cutscenes and the best ever graphics ever. I\'m sure it\'s going to be a great success, I can\'t wait to play it, but let\'s face that graphics are still number one.\"

So consider this my humble dissagreement.

Let\'s also just state for the record that during this panel Tascan had not yet played \"Gears,\" which might suggest hypocracy in itself, or, indeed, does. But after playing the game extensively, over the last few days, I have the impression that the graphics alone are not what make \"Gears of War.\" The balance of gameplay hinges on enemy AI (in single player), finely tuned weapons, taking cover, and level design.

Which brings me to another question: What is Tascan\'s definition of innovation?

Does he mean the development of gameplay that we\'ve never experienced? Or when a developer goes out of their element and creates something new? Or does the game have to be as strange as Katamari Damacy (one of my favorites)? Does he mean innovation within a tried and true genre?

The shooter genre is about as supersaturated with titles as it can be. We\'ve got our triple-A titles, we\'ve got our duds. We\'ve got a range of games in-between. Innovation across genre means either blending two genres previously unblended or creating a new genre altogether (this happens infrequently). Innovation within a genre means either developing new gameplay or making old gameplay feel new.

\"Gears\", then, has it\'s own form of innovation. It blends a duck-n-cover system that we\'ve seen in games like Killswitch, a fear of open spaces present in war shooters (found in Call of Duty), and the frenetic and challenging gameplay found in the Halo series. Sure, critics could say that we don\'t need another Halo - our Halo is our Halo. But \"Gears\" is not a \"Halo\" in the way \"Halo\" is not a \"Resident Evil.\" The gameplay is just different.

Tactics play an ingenious part in \"Gears,\" especially on the Hardcore and Insane difficulties. Cover plays an essential part. One of the most amazing things \"Gears\" does is create this fear of open spaces - that when you\'re visible, you\'re vulnerable. And to keep that feeling constant, they implemented the one-button cover system for ease.

Why are people loving it so much, Tascan? Because it\'s fun.

The graphics, in my opinion, are the icing on the cake. Sure, they\'re close to or are the best graphics I\'ve ever seen, even without high-definition. But graphics still are only as good as the gameplay. Graphics might help make a game sell, and that says a lot about the superficiality of our society, but what makes the game memorable, what makes it \"worth its salt,\" to borrow a phrase, is the tight gameplay, blended or created anew.

Tascan also made the comment that a select few UK critics lauded the game. Take into consideration that UK game critics are more critical of shooters than their American counterparts - whether for cultural or merely idealogical reasons - and often opt for racing titles and football (that\'s soccer) instead, among others. This is not always true, it\'s just a generalization, so take it with consideration.

Perhaps this veil of thought is for society abroad, showing that what we find appealing here in the States is not always what people find appealing elsewhere. But does that make \"Gears\" more diminutive in innovation? Not to me.

But that\'s just this writer\'s opinion, feel free to disagree.


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