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Today, (or tonight really) while devouring mini hamburgers at the Microsoft Games for Windows party (good stuff actually), I had the chance to finally sit
down and play Gears of War. In multiplayer. On a PC. With a mouse and keyboard (You bastard! - Vader).
Hit and run. It's always the best tactic.
I'm not going in there, if you pay me!
Yep, under the watchful eye of Epic's Cliffy B. (the game's lead designer), people engaged in a multiplayer death match of sorts divided into two teams of
Locust and the Marines. Each of the players who sat down had a choice of picking up either an Xbox 360 controller, or using a mouse and keyboard to play the
game. As you can imagine, being a long-time PC elitist I sat down and immediately replied: "No, no controller." I must admit, I got a few strange looks from
the ole' Cliffy B.
First of all, I can tell you that whatever machines Microsoft had running in that play room of theirs, Gears of War was running at over 60 FPS with all
the visual bells and whistles maxed out - certainly a great sign for PC owners. Bearing in mind the news that GoW will be available for XP as well, this
should be regarded as a good omen by those of you with no cash for fancy upgrades.
The control scheme, another big point of interest for the PC version was very intuitive. I especially like how Epic efficiently and smoothly used the
'space' key to perform a variety of functions in the game. By double-tapping 'space,' our character will do a dive, but if we double-tap and keep 'space'
pressed, he will sprint. Furthermore, if we come by near a good cover spot, tapping the 'space' key while near a wall will effortlessly position the player
so that he's taking cover. Again, an indicator will pop up saying that if we press 'space' again, our character will dive to the side out of cover.
The good news is that this system works very smoothly, and it took me no more than a few minutes to get used to it in the multiplayer match.
Now the multiplayer gameplay itself was nothing to write home about. There were some nice and gory finishing moves on display (once you've disabled your
opponent), but the good news is that all the infrastructure, the foundation for a good PC game (frame-rate and controls) are working absolutely great.
Bearing in mind the added content that's going into the PC version, this can only mean excellent news for us PC whores.
To be fair, however, Gears of War still feels a lot like a console game. I had some minor problems controlling my character while sprinting, but overall,
Cliffy B. and the gang at Epic are no strangers to producing quality PC games. In a word, there is no question about whether or not this will be a quality
port. This one is done by people who understand PC gaming, and as Microsoft's Peter Moore keeps pointing out, the big Redmond giant is trying to revive the
PC gaming brand under the Games for Windows slogan.
A lot of fancy marketing talk? Sure. But Gears of War is looking great regardless.