The weather turns from sunny to stormy to full-on hurricane. The land tilts, the streets flood, cars roll down hills and a colossal lava-filled canyon opens.
It’s a thrashball stadium – the sport that Augustus Cole was famous for before the Pendulum Wars. The stadium is falling to pieces, and you can wreck it more by doing stuff like shooting the scoreboard down. Even cooler, the scoreboard keeps track of the ‘home’ and ‘away’ team kills as the death tolls rack up.
Bleszinski says that you will be able to tell, say, what level of Horde you’re on by the way the map looks, which will come in handy.
Gears packs the meatiest weapons in gaming, but now it’s set to give you even more bang for your buck.
The One Shot rifle is a heavy version of the sniper rifle. “We used to call it the elephant gun because it can kill any enemy with one hit,” grins Bleszinski. It can even slug through a Boomer with a shield, “shooting shells as big as your forearm!” It’s true; we’ve seen it in action. No more wussy scurrying away from Boomers now... it’s payback time!
Bangers ’n’ gnash
The boomstick choice is expanded with the gib-tastic, sawn-off Gnasher. The cross-hair is the widest we’ve ever seen; it almost spans the entire screen, so you can actually gib two enemies at once, if you get in close. The catch? A dangerously long reload time. “We like to call the effects of this weapon, ‘intimate violence’,” reveals Bleszinski, “the momentum is incredible. Foes are really blown back!”
Break a leg
This hideous hybrid is the Siege beast. It’s an enormous creature of burden that – against its will – has been retrofitted into this war engine to become an organic catapult. By pulling the creature's legs back (the action is accompanied by much agonised wailing) the Locust launch flaming rocks at the COGs. It’s gross, but seriously effective. It can cause massive damage, and the only way to stop it – shoot its legs off.
One of the more inventive new weapons is the Digger Launcher, which fires off burrowing organic grenades. It resembles a Boomer pistol, but it’s so big, it looks more like a large rifle when wielded by Marcus. Holding the L trigger brings up an underground trajectory. Pressing fire then shoots the round into the ground, and it digs its way under cover before popping up to explode in hiding enemies’ surprised faces, blasting their heads clean off! To make sure the weapon is not exploited in multiplayer, you’ll hear a shrill scream that increases in intensity as the grenade approaches.
“When we were thinking about what our next massive, over-the-top weapon could be, we realised we were missing another rifle,” recalls Bleszinski, “so we created this old-school Pendulum Airlancer, which has a bayonet in place of the chainsaw.” It’s super-powerful at close range, but look out for the extreme kick when you pull the trigger.
Flame grenades are modified Molotov Cocktails dangling from a rope. In other words, low tech but effective. Throw the grenade up into a ceiling and watch as fire drips down before exploding as it hits the floor. Walls of flame can be ignited across wide areas, and it’s an instant kaboom, unlike the regular frags.
Among other new weapon reveals to come will be the ink grenade – a liquidy smoke bomb-a-like.
The Silverback exo-suit is the must-have new heavy weapon – a way of taking the fight back to the Locust, even when humanity’s chips are down. From the front, it looks like a Warhammer 40K Dreadnought, and it jerkily struts around a bit like RoboCop’s ED-209.
Watching it blast rockets – surrounded by amazing smoke plumes – is a thing of deadly beauty. Plus you can do all the cool COG moves like curb stomps and roadie runs (but only for a bit, as it overheats.)
Combat walkers always have a weak spot though. In this case, the designers ran out of armour for his back. Doh! But switch to defence mode and the Silverback turns into an immobile iron wall. Transformers who?