Source: The cover of the March issue of GamePro magazine.
What we heard: With over 2.7 million copies sold in the US alone, Gears of War has been an unqualified hit. So it would be totally unsurprising if the Xbox 360 and now PC shooter got the sequel treatment. After all, Epic Games' vice president Mark Rein has fueled rumours that a sequel was in the works. As far back as November 2006, he told readers on the game's official forums that Gears of War was meant to be a trilogy. "If we can keep making quality games that fans obviously love...then why would we have to stop at three? I don't see the Metal Gear Solid, Mario, Grand Theft Auto, or Final Fantasy series (among others) stopping at three."
At last year's Game Developers' Conference, famed designer Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski basically said his employer does "intend to do a sequel" to Gears of War. Though Rein has steadfastly denied that such a thought has even occurred to Epic executives, speculation has been building that the next chapter in Marcus Fenix's fight against the Locust Horde would be unveiled soon. Given the relative paucity of Xbox 360 exclusives this year, the latest rumors have the game's unveiling being a surprise announcement at the forthcoming 2008 Game Developers Conference.
Today, two weeks before GDC, the fires of speculation were restoked by GamePro, which posted a cover touting an "Xbox 360 special report" about such games as Too Human, Ninja Gaiden II, and "Gears of War 2." Many sites, including GameSpot, initially literally judged the book by its cover, assuming a publication wouldn't tout news of a game that didn't officially exist.
However, shortly after the Gears of War 2 story was posted, GameSpot obtained a scan of the article from reader Steven Taylor (aka Terran499). Rather than official confirmation of the game's existence, the piece is purely speculative, laying out "what we should expect" from a sequel that "hasn't officially been announced yet." After running down a wish list of features, the article hypothesizes that "it's certainly possible for Gears of War 2 to slip until 2009, but we think Microsoft is pressing to Epic to deliver the game by the holiday season of 2008."
The official story: As he did following Bleszinski's comments at GDC 2007, Rein quickly denied the idea that Gears of War 2 could possibly be in the works. "It is complete nonsense," he said of the article on the official Gears of War forums. "We have not announced a sequel to Gears of War to GamePro or anyone else for that matter."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that technically Epic Games has officially announced Gears of War 2. Not bogus that the studio, having been so enriched by the original Gears that Bleszinski can afford a $190,000 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, is planning a sequel to further fill its coffers.