Tag Archive: rod fergusson

Industry veteran and current Microsoft Studios creative director Ken Lobb explained that Black Tusk’s take on Gears of War would be “innovative” and run on Unreal 4 in a recent interview with Edge.

“I think the reality is what we have is innovative Gears Of War. That’s what I believe they’re going to make,” said Lobb. “They’re an internal studio, but the reality is it’s cool to have [an IP] that can be a grand slam right out of the gate. The concepts they’ve been toying with are awesome. You take what they were thinking about and their expertise on Unreal Engine 4, because that’s what they’ve been playing with since their founding, and really go with the IP.”

Ken Lobb has worked in the games industry for over 20 years, helping craft such memorable classics as G.I. Joe for the NES and Goldeneye 007 for the N64 (he’s who the infamous Klobb was named after). He even took part in the discussions that led to Metroid Prime before joining Microsoft in 2001.

Black Tusk is a relatively new first-party studio, founded in 2012 under the Microsoft banner, and was supposedly working on an original IP before being charged with Gears of War. To help get the feel of the franchise, long-time Gears of War producer Rod Fergusson was also brought on as studio manager when Black Tusk took on the project.

No other details about this new Gears of War project have come out yet, as Black Tusk only began work on the project a few months ago.

Grinding the Gears

Originally Published: November 21, 2008, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

Ray Carsillo Reporting for 1050 ESPN at NYC Gears of War 2 Launch
Video by Jared Bodden

It helped launch the current generation of systems and prove just how far we had come in terms of shooter games. It also left us on the edge of our seats as we knew by the end cut scene that this epic was not over. Gears of War was revolutionary in terms of how much it stressed firing from behind cover and blind firing without a stress on stealth. Add in that there was nothing more satisfying in online play than sneaking up behind someone and mowing them down with the chainsaw attached to your gun. Graphics, weapon design, enemy A.I., they all took steps forward with the first Gears of War, so how on earth could they top it?

If you loved the first Gears as much as I did, then you were at a Midnight Mayhem Launch at one of the many locations across the tri-state area, waiting anxiously for the clock to strike 12:01 AM on Friday, November 7th. Take a look at the attached video to see a special interview with Rod Fergusson, the Senior Producer for Gears of War 2 from Epic Games and you can get a better sense of what to expect.

After finally procuring my own copy of Gears of War 2, I staved off sleep for as long as it took for me to beat it and I could not have been happier with the product.

The first game set the stage for one of the grandest universes we’ve been immersed in as gamers in a long while and the second game did its job, which was to flesh out the characters and expound on the background of this amazing universe.
You once again take on the role of Marcus Fenix and have to lead Delta Squad against the Locust Hordes who are trying to take over the surface world after living under the earth’s crust for no one knows how long.

One of the additions to this game is in Co-op story mode, you aren’t a ghost shooter when you tag along with a buddy, but take over as Dominic Santiago, Marcus’s closest friend and 2nd in command and follow the story through his eyes as well as Marcus’s. A nice addition to mention is that both Marcus’s and Dom’s back stories have been fleshed out and you learn a lot about their characters and personal motives with some interesting twists and turns along the way.

As well as the fleshed out story, the graphics have been upgraded to push the XBOX 360 to its limits and you can tell. The light effects, the blood, the lush color of vegetation (or not so lush of rotting vegetation), all bring the sense of realism to all new heights. The enemy A.I. has been upgraded and the gameplay is as smooth as can be. I saw no glitches to speak of. And some of the most fun levels I’ve played in a long time were when you get behind the wheel of several C.O.G. and Locust “vehicles” and just start blowing everything and everyone to kingdom come.

The multiplayer is back as well and has been ramped up. With new multiplayer modes, like King of the Hill, Wingman, and Annex, new maps, and the pure satisfaction of winning a battle of clashing chainsaws and you have one of the best multiplayer experiences out there.

Add in new abilities, like using dying Locust soldiers as shields while under fire, collectibles from every level, and new weapons such as poison gas grenades, burst shot pistols, the ability to turn your grenades into proximity mines (which can be planted right on enemies as well as on walls), flamethrowers, and the return of some of the greatest weapons ever imagined like the Lancer chainsaw rifle and you have all the ingredients for, in my opinion, so far, the best gaming experience of 2008.

Ratings are based on a system of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 9.5: Sharp, clear, crisp. These are words that you use when describing Gears of War 2. The only reason why I deducted points was that when you mow down enemies with the chainsaw, they fall apart into lots of little pieces that would not make sense if you’re slicing them right down the middle. Aside from this minor critique, the game is a feast for the eyes.

Audio: 10.0: The voice acting was superb. The gravel and guts in Marcus Fenix’s voice made you think of how much fighting this man had seen. The music fit every situation and helped to build tension to let you know when something was coming so that you actually tensed up because you didn’t know what would be behind the next corner. Explosions, gunfire, chainsaws grinding, and other SFX were all solidly used as well. Can’t deduct from something was perfect.

Plot/Plot Development: 9.0:
The first Gears ended in a cliffhanger and the second Gears ends in even a bigger cliffhanger. Questions from the first Gears were answered, but even more questions pop up as you play through the game. I don’t want to give anything away by saying what they are, but I already can’t wait for Gears 3! Add in the emotion you feel for the characters as their backgrounds are fleshed out and you walk away from this one like you just watched a great movie in the middle of the trilogy. Dare I say, this is The Empire Strike Back of video games?

Gameplay: 10.0: There were no glitches as far as I could tell and everything kept up at a great pace. I didn’t even realize how long I had been playing the game for until I finally looked at my clock and said “Damn!” It felt like I was watching a movie it was so smooth. Enemy A.I. was relatively unpredictable and the game was just hard enough to give you a challenge, but with enough checkpoints to keep you from being frustrated. Best game I’ve played this year, I think.

Replay Value: 9.0: Not a lot to bring you back to the story mode aside from getting the achievements of beating the game on a harder difficulty and trying to find all the collectibles, but the multiplayer is great. Lots of different modes keeps the multiplayer situations constantly in flux and there is still no greater feeling in gaming than sneaking up on someone and hacking them to ribbons with your Lancer Chainsaw Rifle.

Overall (not an average): 9.5: One of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in gaming in a while. From the story mode to the great multiplayer mode, this game is tight as a drum. It’s hard to really complain about anything except that I don’t think I can wait another two years for Gears 3 to come out. Gears of War 2 is out now exclusively for XBOX 360.

-Ray Carsillo