Gears of War Hands-On - Single-Player and Multiplayer

Epic and Microsoft are preparing the Windows version of their hit Xbox 360 game, and it's loaded with exclusive new content just for the PC.

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Sure, Gears of War debuted on the Xbox 360 last year and became a blockbuster hit that sold more than four million copies. But did you know that when Epic originally showcased the game at the 2005 E3 trade show it was running on a PC? We learned that while visiting Epic's offices in North Carolina recently, where we got a chance to get some hands-on time with the upcoming PC version of Gears of War.

If there's a message that Epic wanted to convey, it's that the PC game isn't merely a port of the 360 game. Gears of War has basically been retuned to feel like a PC game, and the visuals remain on the cutting edge, so much so that you'll probably want to show off the graphics to your friends. The PC game will have all of the content that appeared in the Xbox 360 game, along with all of the extra downloadable content that was released over the past year. It will also ship with five new single-player chapters, three new multiplayer arenas, a new multiplayer game mode, and the latest version of the Unreal editor. This last element is worth noting because Epic will ship the exact same toolset that it used to create the game, along with all of the content used to build the game, so fans can experiment, tinker, and create their own unique levels and mods. And thanks to the many engine optimizations that have been done over the past year, the PC game is essentially running on a "new" engine, which means that much of the new content will never appear for the Xbox 360 game, we're told.

You'll actually get to battle the Brumak in the PC version of Gears of War. Good luck.

The new single-player content is designed to flesh out the final act of the game. When you first load up Gears of War on your system, you can start at the beginning of the game, but if you're a veteran of the 360 game, you can choose to dive into the new chapters. However, be warned that the new content appears near the end of the game, which means that you'll be thrown into some challenging battles. The new content is called Timgad, for the city it's based in, and it basically tells the story of how Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad get to the train station at the end of the game. As such, it helps fill in some of the glaringly missing narrative in the Xbox 360 game. If you're a fan of the boys of Delta, you'll be happy to hear that Microsoft brought in all the voice actors to record new lines, so you can hear Marcus, Dominic, "The Cole Train," and Baird in all their gravelly glory. There are plenty of grueling battles against the Locust Horde, culminating in a battle against the giant Brumak, a fearsome opponent that was only seen in a cutscene in the Xbox 360 game.

All of this new content will add up to about an hour of extra gameplay on the casual difficulty level, though if you ramp up the difficulty to hardcore and insane, you'll certainly have a fight on your hands. Regardless, when single-player is done you'll be able to turn to the game's impressive multiplayer suite. Gears of War has a cooperative gameplay mode with support for two players, as well as various competitive modes on a total of 19 maps. The new multiplayer mode is king of the hill, and it's a variation of the annex mode. In it, teams battle to control a certain point on the map, and you have to hold it for a total of 120 seconds. To seize a point, you have to clear it and have at least one teammate in it at all times. It takes a few seconds for control to be established after that. However, the opposing team can break control instantly if one of them can breach the perimeter of the control point. This can make for suicide charges to buy time for reinforcements to appear.

Epic has done some nifty things with the control scheme. You can plug an Xbox 360 controller into your PC and play Gears of War just like you would on the console. Of course, most PC gamers will use the keyboard and mouse. After all, playing with a mouse allows for much more precision compared to a gamepad. But let's say you're in the middle of a level and decide, on a whim, to pick up and play on a gamepad. In that case, the game will automatically detect the switch and "adjust" the feel of the game. Gears of War is tuned for both control schemes.

With that said, the keyboard and mouse controls are pretty intuitive, given that the W, A, S, and D keys are used to move around and the mouse is used to aim. Naturally, you can remap the controls any way you'd like. The only real learning curve is related to the game itself. Gears of War isn't a standard run-and-gun shooter. It's rather a game about using cover to shield you from enemy fire, and then "popping out" from behind cover to shoot back. To use cover, all you have to do is move against a solid object, such as a wall, and your character will "hug" it automatically. You can also simply move next to cover and hit the space bar. When hugging cover, you hold the right mouse button to "pop out" and aim, and release the right mouse button to return to cover. It's that simple. Other actions are also pretty intuitive. Running is as simple as double-tapping the W key. When you do that, your character runs at a crouch and the camera moves low to the ground and follows, a neat technique that reminds you of combat documentary footage. Likewise, acrobatic moves such as twirling from behind cover are as simple as moving in the direction you want to go and tapping the space bar.

The PC version looks even better than the Xbox 360 game if you have powerful hardware.

Visually, Gears of War arguably looks even more stunning on the PC than it did on the Xbox 360. That's partly due to the nature of the platform. On the PC, the display is often just a foot or two away from your head, so you can soak up all the minute detail onscreen much easier than you can on a television that's across your living room. However, if you have a beefy system you'll be able to appreciate even higher resolution and higher-resolution textures than the 360 game. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your system specs. We're told that the minimum system requirements are a 2GHz AMD or a 2.4GHz Intel single-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and an Nvidia 6600 or ATI X700 video card.

Gears of Wars will ship with support for Games for Windows - Live, the PC version of Microsoft's excellent Xbox Live service. However, it will not require Windows Vista to run. To maximize the potential install base for the game, Gears of War will run on both Windows XP and Windows Vista. The game won't feature cross-platform online play, so you won't be able to battle Xbox 360 players. On the plus side, though, you won't have to subscribe to Games for Windows - Live, because PC-to-PC multiplayer is free on the service. And because it supports Games for Windows - Live, Gears of War will feature a whole new set of 1,000 achievement points that you can amass. Epic learned some lessons from the 360 game and has reworded some of the achievements so that players have motivation to help their team. For example, in the 360 game, there was an achievement that rewarded you if you got 100 headshots in multiplayer. What ended up happening was that players would join games and just sit back with the sniper rifle to try to get headshots, rather than trying to win the round. That achievement has since been reworded so the goal is to get a single headshot in each of 100 different rounds. The idea is that once you get your headshot for the round, you can drop the sniper rifle and go help the team win.

Given that Gears of War will ship for the PC less than a year after the Xbox 360 game, Epic hopes to make PC gamers feel as if they're part of the club. The company did not want to ship the PC game years after the 360 game, which would have made it feel like the PC community was getting a warmed-over port. That's hardly the case here, and Gears of War looks like an amazing game and, more importantly, it feels like it was made for the PC. It will ship on November 6.

Discussion

561 comments
Gaiachamps
Gaiachamps

i have a AMD Athlon x2 4450e dual processors,9500GT 512,3GB ram will it run well on my pc .click yes if it woul and no if it wont

doomdpanic
doomdpanic

@ Tung-R : BTW youre pc is outdated LOL

doomdpanic
doomdpanic

doomdpanic i think this game is great and the graphics could be a bit better ive completed the game in the best quality and modes and i mean really Quality ! 1680x1050 and yeah its stil not coming close to jam my pc i totaly love the game bosses a kinda weak and stupid but they gave em a **** of HP so kinda enough time to run underneath burmaks and shoot the sh!te out off him oh an yeah i think 360 players should have some extra content aswel but stay real 360 fans map editor ? c'mone you dont have tools for it + how are you guys gonna open a new window to test and add and test again ? Xbox360 is gaming console and is not made for game editing or modding but only for playing mods so you can best let the big boys do the work.. if you want something new then get a load of mails and email the producers they wil response if you all get the same question anyways feel free to invite me to the email and il be glad to join you 360 fans to email the producers

Tung-R
Tung-R

Wow, i think so. If you want to watch the best graphic, you should have the powerfull PC. My PC: Ram 4Gb, ATI X 1950 256Mb, Chip Core2dual 2.4Ghz.. I must say: "THIS IS THE BEST GAME ON PC AT THIS TIME".

d3vilg0d
d3vilg0d

With so many great titles this month I feel this game is dated.whats funny is that pc titles I literally half the price on a console but u have to spend x10 to upgrade

rj5958
rj5958

I always hoped that the game would come to the PC ever since I finished it on my friend's 360. I was not a 360 fan before but, after I played this game it really made me want to buy a 360. Now I don't have to be torn about such a difficult decision. I just hope they make a good sequel (which I know they will).

fvoska
fvoska

This game won't be "one of thoes" where they just port it from console from PC... The game was first developed for the PC, and then they started to optimize it for Xbox, remember ? So we can expect the game in which you even won't notice it is port, becouse it isn't ! They simply put their UE3 for PC in the game... Like the game on the begining. Have you noticed on trailers that the graphics is almost identical to UT3 graphics ? textures and everything is just the same... So you can expect the same performance as in UT3... And that is good. Although it just isn't very original... But this is more SP UE3 showoff, and UT3 is more MP UE3... So buy the both games... You won't regret it. Two superb UE3 games worth of playing... I love the Unreal Engine 3 ! It is simply so colorful, nice and smooth !

DucksBrains
DucksBrains

Good god so much complaining. Stop trying to say 360 players are the reason why GoW became popular. A game often becomes popular based on its own merits of quality, replayability, and fun factor. All of which Gears succeeded at exceptionally well. So what if some of this extra stuff isn't going to be released immediately or at all for the 360. Build a bridge and get over yourselves. It's not the end of the damn world.

gabi098
gabi098

bluslder no you didn't the game was great and THATS why it sold 4 mil copies plus theres too much content to just be released for free think of all the extra hours at work to make the new content that isn't free ya know.

bluslder
bluslder

Well I just want to say how much I am disappointed in Epic for doing this. How come us 360 users have to pay for the new maps, can't get the extra campaign act, and won't get the new game mode???? WE ARE the ones who made this game popular and helped support it and now we are getting ripped because Epic wants to make more money by making this all exclusive to the pc. You know what.....F*ck Epic. I love gears more than any other game and this is how us 360 users get treated......when gears of war 2 comes out release both at once and keep it updated regulary for *BOTH* ok Epic, just a tip so you dont lose 95% of your fan base for money.

Flame_Co
Flame_Co

Anyone complaining, PC will always have more content whether devs release the game with it or not. PC has something 360's will never have: user created content. So quit your whining and be happy PCer's will get new stuff to play with.

TheCrapp
TheCrapp

hmmm...1 year from the xbox360 release, can be worth? lets see...and seems to be great!...

09231991
09231991

agreed very-crazy-man, I don't understand why we, 360 hardcore gamers who have spent hours and hours playing gears and making it more known and popular, that we get jipped. I mean come on, seriously the PC gamers get all the new content plus the four maps we had to pay for, for free and plus more. Well good job Epic, I've just lost some respect for. "sobs"

HaRiZ420
HaRiZ420

"will not require Windows Vista to run." *sniff*

-Mist-
-Mist-

well actually i am up for Gears of war(NEEDED!) Assassin's creed(ALSO NEEDED!) Bros in arms and Crysis :P But Duuuude i want to play Gears of war so bad !

Terrorraid
Terrorraid

i honestly cant wait for this game.....its a shame assasain's creed is delayed...But hey...we have gears of war now... this is gonna be a awsome year...COD4,Crysis,Gears of war,Jericho,Splintercell conviction, Brothers in arms II,Witcher....wot more can u ask for...

CursedCheetos
CursedCheetos

in november i´m gonna buy gears of war and, ten days later crysis yeehaaaa

homiebo
homiebo

After looking at the headshot achievment for PC, it does not compel me to keep playing , or work as a team, or drop my sniper rifle to help the team.It might make it so that people beg to get the sniper rifle to get the achivement. Iam just sayin

very_crazy_man
very_crazy_man

WTF!! why is it that the console games always come BEFOR the PC ones (aside from CandC 3 which i might add had no bonus feature when it came to 360)... we always get the game first then a month later the PC gets it with a s**t pile of extras 360 gamers will never see.. i mean if your going to make a port for a PC MAKE IT SO THE 360 GAMERS CAN HAVE IT TO!!!! even if is a a download we have to pay for!!

u_poop
u_poop

i woulld like to play the game just to see the graphics on my pc and to fight the Brumak

cashmonkey78
cashmonkey78

RE: Saumy88, I hear ya. I buy consoles because I can't keep up with the constant upgrading of PCs and the demands & toll it takes on my PC (and pocket). It's really unfortunate that these extras won't come to the 360, and like you stated, I'm sure many faithful Gears gamers would gladly pay for the extra content even if it were just a small Expansion Pack.

Sakesaru
Sakesaru

@bharath_yp Simply the best comment ever. I'm not being sarcastic either.

ZahrimThoth
ZahrimThoth

360 owners, get used to seeing exclusive content added to the PC versions...and better graphics and gameplay. If you own an above avg PC, there's no reason to own a console.

Przem0
Przem0

@ AthenianLight I see no relevance here. I remember advertise campaigns as consoles being ultimate way to play games. On a PC I can play games, write documents, browse internet, communicate, post here, backup my files on dvds, watch movies, listen to the music and so on. It costs more, no doubts here. I have nothing against consoles, I would buy one if it wasn't for the price and regional lock. Plus it is funny how console owners felt superior to poor PC owners who didn't have the rigs to play GoW.

AthenianLight
AthenianLight

@Przem0 Try playing GOW on a 250$ pc. If u can build one that is.

sachitharox
sachitharox

cant wait ! wht kind hardware performance need to play this game on pc?

bharath_yp
bharath_yp

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

megadisc
megadisc

i cant wait for these... another hole burnt in the pocket.. money well spent

doctorteeth
doctorteeth

I am so excited to see this on XP!!!

admir1983
admir1983

so GS have to give GOW a perfect 10 since they gave x360 9.6

i_hate_pants
i_hate_pants

Feels good being a PC gamer. Screw the haters! They're all just jealous console fan boys.

Tommi88
Tommi88

wonder if my pc can handle this

alfa18
alfa18

When I bought Gears of War i think,maybe, that it said "only on xbox 360" or maybe i m loosing my sight. i just don't know how microsoft can throw a killer game of the xbox 360 to the pc...I mean if every xbox 360 exclusive game ends a year later on pc i think people rater have good pcs and a little pacience than buying a 360 console...besides multiplayer on pc is free. I d like to see how long is halo3 gonna take to be launched on the pc.

real_oxide
real_oxide

Thanks for spoiling the technique to killing the boss, Cliffy.

Saumy88
Saumy88

Ok Honestly the only thing that im upset about is the fact that the content will be exclusive. I dont care about the Graphical Improvements if you have the higher end software. I dotn care that its on PC either .. its just the exclusive content thing that bugs me. Considering the fact that the game did come out on the 360 first and the fact that it pushed sales for the system and is an awesome game .. i dont care if they make me pay for it like an expansion i would just like the opertunity to share in the content considering i dont have the money to upgrade and enhance my pc to that lvl.

Przem0
Przem0

Anyone has any doubts over PC's superiority over Xbox 360 or PS3? No? Didn't think so ;)

unaturalx
unaturalx

Hey you who hasn't played this yet or bought it and only played it for a min. The multi-player is a huge adrenaline rush. Story mode not overrated. I'm a huge fan of games, not consoles or pc. This game is a hit and a half. If this game plays half as good as it did on 360, THIS IS A MUST OWN!! BTW Halo 3 was a disappointment.

Gadeos
Gadeos

I hate that new versions have so much new stuff (fighting the Brumak?!! Man!!!!!!!) I won't buy updates for my PC, it's a waste of money cause there's always new tech comming out... I hope GoW2 gets better and PC-like (OK, maybe not on grahics but on new additions)

DIMANICUS
DIMANICUS

GeOW is overrated on 360. Might even be good on PC, but theres a slim chance of that happening.

AlaskaFin
AlaskaFin

hah!! damn these posts are hilarious! Gotta say I cant believe why people are getting so hyped about it. Anyways cant wait for this. Played it on 360 and it was fantastic! Now my PC gets a piece of it ^^

pblancaflor
pblancaflor

Yay! I don't need to get an XBox 360 anymore! XD

-Unreal-
-Unreal-

I bought it on Xbox but I've barely even played it. Seems like a good game but way way way blown out of proportion.

oonge
oonge

here in lies a game worth spending sleepless nights over..if its as good as they make it sound,think il sell one of my kidneys and upgrade my PC hardware

amulbocus
amulbocus

Is GOW for the PC worth playing with xbox 360 controller? Also on a different note when is the Elder scrolls game of the year edition coming out officially for PS3(has shivering isles included!!)? there does not seem to be much news on it lately?

axeman87
axeman87

Agreed Arribaxxx. I cant even be bothered anymore, he/she talks such gibberish. (awaiting childish retort)

axeman87
axeman87

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]