Cliff Bleszinski leaves Epic Games

Cliff Bleszinski, best known for his work on Gears of War and Unreal, announced his departure from Epic Games. He was one of the co-founders of Epic and has been in the gaming industry for 20 years now. He leaves to move on to the "next stage of his career".

I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager, and outside of my sabbatical last year, I have been going non-stop. I literally grew up in this business, as Mike likes to say. And now that I’m grown up, it’s time for a much needed break.

It wasn't mentioned to what the "next stage of his career" would be.  His work on the Gears of War series, and Unreal really made an impact in the gaming community.

I will miss the projects, the playtests, the debates, and most importantly, the people. Epic only hires the best of the best, and it has been a joy working with each and every one of you on a daily basis, whether you were hired weeks ago or decades ago. I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with a variety of disciplines, from code to art to marketing and PR – it’s been one big, rewarding learning experience. I’m confident that each project that is being built, whether at Epic, Chair, PCF, or Impossible will be top notch and will please gamers and critics alike.

People come and go, that's just how it is. I wish the guy the best of luck in his future endeavors.

[Source: Epic Games]

Unreal Engine 4 running on real-time gives us a glimpse of the future

  Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine 4 has been officially revealed to the public by Epic Games. The tech demo titled "Elemental" shows a supernatural knight inside a volcano waking up from its long sleep. The tech demo is of course being played in real-time and showcases the power of Unreal Engine 4.

I suggest you guys watch the video at 720p.

For all you tech savvy game developers - Here's a walkthrough video thanks to GameTrailers showing us the features in this new game engine.

According to Epic Games, actual games running on Unreal Engine 4 will be out sometime around 2013. A lot of game studios are all excited to give the engine a spin. With Epic Games revealing Unreal Engine 4 and Square Enix teasing the world on how Final Fantasy games could look like in the future, 2013 just might be the year of next-gen reveals.

Fenix's Rising, new DLC map pack for Gears of War 3 coming soon

  Gears of War 3 map pack New Years' upon us and Epic Games want to start 2012 right by releasing a new map pack to expand Gears of War 3's addicting multiplayer. The map pack will include five new maps, new character skins, and a new level up system that lets you level up all over again.Think of the new system as the prestige in COD.

Fenix Rising will cost only 800 Microsoft Points, or free if you already purchased a Season Pass which give you free access to upcoming DLC. Here's the list of the new maps, which is inspired from the locales in the Gears of War 3 campaign. No old maps from previous games remastered here.

  • Academy –The lineage of the Fenix family can be traced back along a distinguished line of military officers.  Officer training at the Oracle Academy was simply the expected path for Marcus, and he had visited the grounds many times in expectation that he would walk the same path as his ancestors.  But it was not to be, and Marcus broke with tradition to be with his best friends Dom and Carlos.  Like any number of fine Seran traditions, the Academy is now lost to the invasion of the Locust Horde.
  • Anvil – The fortress of Anvegad was called Anvil Gate because its impenetrable walls were forged in the fires of war.  Huge cannons sat atop battlements that guarded sprawling walls running the line of the UIR borders.  Marcus went there to find Hoffman, and they both thought that Anvil Gate would offer protection from the incoming forces of Locust and Lambent.  They were wrong, and little remains other than the ruined shell of a once mighty fortress.
  • Depths – The excessive opulence of Azura defied all normal reasoning.  But Adam Fenix could see the cracks in the veneer of splendor from the moment he arrived at this underwater processing center.  And all that beauty mattered not at all once he was held captive by the Locust.  Out of options, he had to find a way to contact Marcus, and finally reveal the truths he’d been keeping to himself for all these many years.
  • Escalation – Haldane Hall has been the home of the Fenix family for countless generations.  But the only history that matters to Marcus’s are his memories of warm summer evenings spent with his mother, Elain, relaxing in the estate’s gardens.  Sadly, all the estate’s history and beauty was lost when the Locust destroyed it in an attempt to kidnap his father.
  • The Slab – Convicted for insubordination and treason, Marcus was incarcerated in Jacinto Maximum Security Prison.  Known as “The Slab”, this prison is not a correctional facility – it’s a place where Sera’s worst offenders are locked up and forgotten.  The inmates are brutal, parole is not an option, and the average life expectancy is about two years.  But that was before the Locust showed up, and what couldn’t get worse, suddenly did.  Now your life expectancy there is around 2 minutes.

New character skins are included. They have a total of four new skins, two for each side:

  • COG:
    • Recruit Clayton – Clayton was born a Gear, grew up a Gear, and on the very day he became eligible, he signed himself up to become the capable, confident, and devoted Gear he’d always known he could be.
    • Thrashball Cole (Limited Edition) – The Cole Train prefers to take the most direct path to the Locust Horde in any situation. What he lacks in finesse, he makes up in raw energy.
  • Locust:
    • Savage Marauder – Locust Marauders were the first to form any sort of organization outside of the Hollow – if their brutal infighting and bloodthirsty raiding parties could truly be called organized.
    • Savage Kantus (Limited Edition) – The Savage Kantus were profoundly impacted by the loss of the Hollow.  They have reverted to a primal, shamanistic state, and their battle cries have taken a dark, melancholy turn.  Few sounds are as terrifying to human ears.

Getting the map pack upgrades the way you level. Not really an upgrade, more like a choice to re-level all over again when you hit the max level of 100. Not sure why doing that all over again is appealing, but if its your thing, the map pack allows you to do it all over again three times. Think of it as COD's prestige feature. Each time you reset your level, you earn a new rank icon color each time: 1st Re-up earns you Red, then Green, then finally Gold for the third and last time you hit 100.  Hitting level 100 a second or third time will also earn you weapon skins:

  • Re-Up Plasma – Animated flowing plasma in gold.
  • Re-Up Omen – Shiny, red Omen.
  • Re-Up Electric – Animated, golden electric shocks.


Other features aside from the maps of this DLC is only icing on the cake, but With only 800 Microsoft Points for five new maps sounds like a good deal. If you haven't sold your copy of Gears 3 yet, Fenix Rising will be out on Jan 17 2012.

[Source: Gaminformer]





VGA 2011: Epic Games reveal new title called Fortnite

Epic Games mentioned a new game is in the works and will be revealed during the VGA's. Well, it isn't a new Gears game, or another Bulletstorm, but an entirely new title called Fortnite. Epic Games is bringing something completely different this time around. Still powered by Unreal, the debut trailer shows a camera man filming a group survivors preparing during the day for an onslaught of zombie-like creatures that obviously comes out at night.

Fortnite seems to have a cartoon-ish art that I've never seen from Epic Games. Reminded me a little of Team Fortress 2's art. While I wasn't too thrilled with what I saw(possible zombie survival again?), the fact that Epic Games is showing that their open in creating something entirely different from what people expect from them is a big plus for me. Not much info was given, not even a date or platform release.


Review: Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 Gears of War: one of the major Xbox-exclusive franchises, and one that has been successful since it started back in 2006. In the span of almost six years, Epic Games have graced Xbox owners with three Gears titles. Their latest, Gears of War 3, proves that the series still holds the crown as one of the best cover-to-cover 3rd person shooters.

While there are a few changes compared to the second game, everything feels intact.  Gameplay is still as you remember it, and the multiplayer can be just as addicting. Taking down a Locust grunt and using him as a meat shield can still be loads of fun. Story-wise, Epic Games wanted to give us an emotional end to the main plotline. The last leg for Marcus and Delta Squad, they say. Was it as engaging as they promised? Yes, but it doesn’t make it a better story.

The Epic Conclusion

I know the Gears of War story pretty well; I’ve played the first two games and I’ve always considered this franchise’s story as its weak point. It gives the usual linear story that games like this provide. As much as they tried to craft a better story to wrap up the trilogy, I honestly liked Gears 2’s story better. The scenario with Jacinto and going in to rescue Dom’s wife alone was more engaging than the entirety of Gears 3’s story. It was all about Marcus finding out that his dad is still alive with a solution to the Locust and Lambent, and goes in to rescue him… again. I have to say, the action this third time around is definitely better. I guess that was the problem.

As you go from chapter to chapter, you’re thrown from firefight after firefight in the midst of a story that doesn’t have time to grow on the player, or create any sort of connection with the characters. Towards the middle of the campaign it picks up pretty well, but returns to the typical formula that leaves you more focused on gameplay rather than wondering what will happen next. How they wrapped up the story left me with questions, but I guess that’s how Epic Games wanted to end it.

The game looks amazing, but the differences are only seen in the environment and detail. Epic Games definitely pushed the Xbox 360 to its limits. During the campaign, they have those stunning sceneries that leave you mesmerized, especially when you ride one of those Locust Gas Barges. Character models are more detailed, but look and act similar to past games. Gears of War 3 also felt glitch-free during my play-through, and enemy AI isn’t dumb. Flanking can happen from enemy AI, so you need to be quick and aware of their movements. What’s dumb is ally AI. If you go down, their first priority is to aid you, which leaves them open and pretty much makes the situation worse by having them go down as well. The campaign isn’t that tough overall as long as you make use of cover. Head to cover, point, and shoot. Simple.

The only encounter I had that was difficult was in fighting this charging lambent with only one weakness (in his chest), so yeah. It can give you those irritating moments. It opens up from time to time to be vulnerable for only a few seconds for players to shoot. It’s a small opening and was the only annoying encounter that left me scratching my head and wanting to throw my controller.

Online is the way to go….

Gears have always been strong with co-op play. With the introduction of four-player co-op for the campaign, that seems like the best way to play your first play-through, unless you like AI covering your back. The campaign in Gears of War 3 has a lot of replayability. Playing the campaign in arcade style is a good way to get competitive and see who can rack up the most points after each chapter, but co-op doesn’t end there. The famous Horde (they call it Horde 2.0) is back and is what I consider the most fun out of the Gears of War 3 package. A group of players are placed to survive 50 waves of enemies coming from all directions. Each enemy kill grants you money which you can use to buy weapons, ammo and now a base where you can also buy turrets, barricades, dummies and even buy a Silverback (an awesome mech that you can use).

It’s all about teamwork, which I appreciate a lot. All maps in Gears of War 3 used for multiplayer can be used for Horde 2.0, which makes the experience different each time. What’s more, there are different areas where you can establish your base. Your types of defenses also level up if you constantly spend money on them. For example – maintaining and building barricades will slowly level them up, giving you the option to engage in further upgrades.  Your barricade spikes can turn into barbed fences that can hold off enemies better, or decoys that can take more hits. As your defenses get stronger, your next Horde session will feel easier thanks to these upgrade options, another great incentive to keep playing.

Gears of War3

A new mode called Beast is introduced in Gears of War 3 and is exactly like Horde but in reverse: you’re now the locust/lambent and your task is to take down a group of COG soldiers. You are given access to all those Locust or Lambent creatures with different abilities which is fun if you’re with a decent party. Some have their advantages and disadvantages so teamwork is a must; it actually requires more teamwork than Horde. Each creature you play can be thought of as a different class, so having your whole team based on one type of Locust/Lambent won’t work as well as you might think. Sadly, this mode is only limited to twelve waves compared to Horde 2.0’s fifty. It’s a great addition and hopefully they include more of it in the future.

Competitive multiplayer, of course, is still around in the form of the famous versus mode. What I like about it is that it brings something quite different from its competitors. Put simply, it stands out. With the amazing cover to cover gameplay creating unique mini-modes of perception and control, and the fact that you have to finish off your enemy after taking them down brings a different set of strategies that took me awhile to figure out. The key weapons and grenades placed in each map also make things interesting. It’s loads of fun and I like their version of team deathmatch. Fifteen spawns for each team. After fifteen spawns, respawning stops and the opposing team will have to finish the remaining players in play to get the win. This style adds a lot of pressure towards the end, especially if you’re the last man standing. Is it addicting? Yes, to an extent, and it helps that you can level up and earn experience when you do either of the game modes in Gears of War 3.

As you level up, you unlock skins, characters to use, and others that just change your appearance. Progressing isn’t as broad as I’d hoped; I don’t really see a point to reaching the highest level. The usual weapons such as the Gnasher shotgun, Lancer, Retro Lance and Sawed-Off Shotgun are the choices when picking a load-out. Other weapons such as the Digger, Hand of Dawn, and other awesome guns in Gears are found in the maps for players to pick up. These powerful weapons can be game-changers, so finding them around the map and securing them becomes a part of the player’s strategy. The game is pretty balanced since these weapons need to be found and picked up first, but because each of the weapons require a good amount of skill to use, a seasoned player with just a lancer still has a chance against someone with, for example, a torque bow.

The single reason why I don’t see myself a regular in Gears of War 3’s multiplayer is due to how long it takes to get a game going: an hour at most. It’s a different case if you live in the US/Canada. It looks like most of the players are from the USA (as expected). There are only a handful of players in Asia to play with. Its matchmaking system searches for the best possible game with good connection, so having the option to play with players from across the Pacific is sadly never going to happen since the connection will definitely be bad. It’s a shame: multiplayer has a good lineup of maps too.

Is Gears of War 3 worth the full price? Definitely. The best of what Gears of War 3 provides is online. If you’re only interested in just the campaign and co-op, be aware that it’s best played online. If you like third-person shooters, this franchise is still the best in this genre. Everything feels just right gameplay-wise, but the substandard story and the difficulty of finding people to play online in Asia prevented it from being a perfect experience.

Score: 90/100


-          Amazing third-person shooter

-          Horde 2.0 is loads of fun

-          Beast mode is a great addition

-          You’re constantly thrown from one action to the next in campaign


-          Weak story

-          If you live somewhere in Asia, matchmaking for multiplayer can take awhile