When a PS3 just isn't in the cards
Gears of War
Cliff Bleszinski, lead designer for Gears of War, stated that his influence for making this game realistic was his personal experience playing paintball. So the question is, did the experience pay off?
All the hype that's been churning about GOW's graphics is essentially true. Not only are the characters finely detailed down to the spherical droplets of slime on the aliens' faces, but the settings are simultaneously breathtaking and nauseating. GOW takes place in a renaissancelike infrastructure that's painted with war desecration. Your character is Marcus Fenix, a re-enlisted ex-Marine whose mission is to eliminate an Earth-devouring alien race.
Though the graphics are gruesomely spectacular, it is the complement of fluid physics and realistic action that really assaults the eyeballs. Landscapes that tremble from bomb blasts and spraying gunfire induce vertigo, making you feel as if you've been huffing paint thinner. In the midst of mayhem, you have to avoid injury by hiding, jumping, and remaining limber, which, if you've ever played paintball before, is harder than it sounds.
Fenix is loaded with an assortment of weapons to help him rise from his ashes, but the lancer assault rifle is what alien-slaughterers' dreams are made of. Get in brawling distance of an oversized locust, and you can crank the rifle's chain-saw bayonet, transforming Fenix from a Marine hero into Leatherface in a crimson-splattered nightmare. The buzzing scenes are bloody, brutal, and beautiful and will induce flashbacks the next time you hear your neighbor's weed whacker. This single device is the zenith of GOW and sets a higher bar for shooter games' tools of the trade to follow.
The online-play options will keep any guilder hooked, which is one reason GOW is being referred to as the next Halo. As far as Bleszinski's experience cashing in, I'd like to play a paintball game that's as exhilarating as GOW. Dear Santa, please stuff my stocking this year with a lancer assault rifle equipped with a chain-saw bayonet.