As good as Gears of War looked on the Xbox 360 (and it looked great), it's got nothing on what it looks like on a high-end PC. That's the first thing that struck us as we got to see and play the upcoming PC version of last year's blockbuster Xbox 360 shooter. This new PC version, which was introduced at Microsoft's E3 press conference on Tuesday, will feature exclusive new chapters and features. While we didn't get to see those, we did get to engage in a three-on-three multiplayer battle with assault rifles with chainsaw bayonets, and it was glorious.
Sure, the Xbox 360 version of the game can run in high-definition, but that's still a lower resolution than what we played at on the PC. The PC version can also benefit from the superior antialiasing technology in the latest video cards, resulting in a much smoother, sharper, and crisper image. The result is a game that looks better than ever on the PC's hardware.
Surprisingly, the controls for the game translate easily from the Xbox 360's gamepad to the PC. The space bar is the context sensitive key that you'll use the most. If you're standing next to cover, holding down the space bar will cause your character to "hug" that cover for protection against incoming fire. While the space bar is held, you can hold down the right mouse button to "pop up" or "pop out" beyond that cover to take a shot at the enemy. Releasing the right mouse button causes you to return to shelter. If you're not near cover, holding down the space bar will cause you to "roadie run," which makes your character crouch and run. This is useful if you're getting shot at and you need to make a dash for the nearest cover.
That system pretty much defines the combat mechanic in the game, as you're constantly using cover to close with and destroy the enemy. At your disposal are a variety of sci-fi weaponry, like bulky assault rifles and shotguns, though we didn't get to play with the really cool stuff that's in the game, like the torque bow that fires exploding arrows. We did see the Hammer of Dawn in action, though. This cool weapon doesn't fire anything. Instead, it designates a target in the open, and as long as there's a Hammer of Dawn satellite overhead, an intense laser bolt comes down from the heavens and incinerates the target.
By far the most fun, however, are the grisly killing moves that you can make. If you use your chainsaw bayonet and get close to someone, you can saw him in half and the gore splatters the camera. It's such a hilariously over-the-top moment that you can't help but giggle at. At least, we couldn't help but giggle. Then there are the curb stomps. If you're killed in Gears of War, most of the time your body will fall to the ground. So long as you weren't sawed in half by a chainsaw or similarly destroyed, a teammate can run up and revive you. One way to prevent that from happening, though, is if you see someone on the ground and finish him off. Curb stomps are fun as you put your armored boot on your victim's head and then, well, stomp down. Let's take this moment to remind you that Gears of War is a Mature-rated game.