The Gears of War series is well known for its reputation as an intense, over-the-shoulder, third person shooter. So when Gears of War: Judgment was released, fans were surprised that the prequel moved away from the series formula, bringing in elements from arcade shooters and changing the composition of the game into shorter campaigns.
What may come as even a bigger surprise is knowing that Gears of War: Judgment could have gone in a very different direction. According to creative director Adrian Chmielarz, he had a very different idea in mind for Gears of War: Judgment that Epic Games ultimately decided not to go with.
Speaking in an interview with Xbox Magazine, the creative director of Gears of War: Judgment is ultimately very happy with the time he spent working on the title. However, his creative vision was ultimately unfulfilled, as he was hoping to bring a truly punishing playstyle similar to that found in Dark Souls to the Gears of War franchise. Additionally, he wanted to remove the cinematic reveals of new enemy characters that appear in the final Gears of War: Judgment product, to leave gamers reeling:
“As an example, Judgment reveals new enemy types in a typical way: a cutscene kicks in and the monster presents itself and does something that explains its powers or abilities. Then we return to gameplay, knowing what we’re dealing with. It’s a good solution, but I wanted the initial confusion. The player was to be surprised and unsure about how to deal with the enemy. “
Unfortunately, gamers never got to see the version of Gears of War: Judgment that Chmielarz intended. Gears of War: Judgment was ultimately received fairly well, but was also not considered to be up-to-par with the main series titles. While the brutal difficulty of Dark Souls would mesh pretty well with the graphics and gore of the Gears of War franchise, it’s hard to say whether the Gears of War fanbase would have appreciated the steep difficulty curve.
If Epic Games had used Chmielarz’s idea, it definitely could have given the title a memorable twist that would have pushed reviews and opinions up a notch. It may have also introduced new fans to the series, and bolstered sales of the game, which were much weaker than other Gears of War games, selling only 360,000 copies in its first month versus Gears of War 3‘s 2 million copies. In any case, the idea of a brutally difficult, Dark Souls-inspired Gears of War may never come to be, as Chmielarz has moved on, and Gears of War has been sold off to Microsoft.
Chmielarz also notes that while gamers often claim that they want more innovation, sales and popularity often indicate that more of the same is actually preferred. While it’s possible that Chmielarz’s image of Gears of War may have flopped, if it had been a success, it could have opened up new paths for the Gears of War franchise and injected some originality into the series. In the worst case scenario, if it had failed, there wouldn’t be much of a risk to the series’ main titles, so it’s rather disappointing that Epic Games chose to not go with the idea.
Would you enjoy a Gears of War with the same teeth-clenching difficulty of Dark Souls? Or is the series better off sticking to what it does best? Let us know in the comments.
Source: Xbox Magazine, via GamesRadar