Cliff Bleszinski talks Gears' competition, future and deeper narrative

No intro needed here. You know who Cliff Bleszinski is and you're here to read what he has to say. So let's get on with it. And when you're done, be sure to read our hands-on reports with Gears of War 2's first act and the brilliant new Horde five-man co-op mode.

GamesRadar: There's a lot of back-story to the original Gears of War that never came through in the game. There seems to be a lot more of it being pushed to the front in Gears 2...

Cliff Bleszinski: You mean like how we have an opening cut-scene this time around?

GR: Yeah. There's a lot of the texture and history of the Pendulum Wars in there now. Why did you want to bring all of that into the game this time?

CB: Maybe it was a mistake to not have that in the first one. You know, maybe we were a little too subtle with some of the story elements. That's not to say the pendulum's going to swing now and that we're going to be beating people down with story every two seconds.

There's a little bit of grey area there. Maybe Gears' story was a little bit too simple and now we can leverage something a bit better out of the game. Because I think narrative, I think fiction, I think context are incredibly important for what we're doing.

GR: There was a feature we did the other week, looking at some of the grey areas in the story...

CB: Oh were you guys the ones who were claiming that humanity are the bad guys?

GR: That was us. Did you have any opinion on that?

CB: I can't really say a lot about it, man. You know, you're tapping into really deep franchise sh*t here. But I really applaud your efforts at exploring a lot of the angles of the universe that not a lot of people generally tend to pick up on. Because all of it's in there. There's a lot of little subtle things in the game that we deliberately put in there that make certain statements about humanity, about the war, about the real world, things like that. And that people have finally started picking up on a little bit of it I think is pretty compelling.

GR: Have you found exploring that a more enriching experience with having a new writer this time? Has that had an effect on things?

CB: Well Josh Ortega's a trip, man. He's an incredibly enthusiastic, charismatic, smart writer. And there's not a lot of people out there that can do what videogame writers do right now. There's only a handful of them. Just for having a lot of patience with the amount of script cycling that we do. But from there on out, we wanted to flesh out the story a bit more. You know, we established the universe in the first one and we wanted to just take the ball and run with it now. Not only with what humanity's going through but also with what Dom's going through.

GR: You mentioned earlier on, and it's no secret, that since Gears of War made the big cover-shooting innovation everyone's jumped on the idea. Has the market saturation of the genre given you any extra pressure while developing Gears 2? Did you feel you had to make a point with it?

CB: I believe that it's easy to say that you're going to make a cover system. It's incredibly difficult to make it work. In the development of the game we've had a lot of behind the scenes tweaks that we've put in, in regards to enemy accuracy when the player's in cover versus out of cover... How much the player has to pull back on the stick, what the threshhold is before he'll come off the cover... So much goes into it to make it just perfect, and I think we're pretty close to hitting that threshhold right now.

At the same time, you know I think there are other games that are doing cool stuff with cover. I saw theWantedvideogame, which allows you to curve your bullets and reach across cover and stab people and stuff. And I'm like "Cool!", you know. "Bring it!"

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.