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by Mike Zazaian November 3, 2006 - 3:51pm, 5 Comments

Graphics of actual gameplay from Gears of War

Microsoft is ramping up the hype for the upcoming Xbox 360 gameGears of War, a first-person shooter that’s being touted as the next Halo.

Industry pundits and gamers alike were invited to the Hollywood Forever cemetery last week to demo Gears of War, a game that Shane Kim, VP of Microsoft Game Studios is calling the second-biggest weapon in its Xbox 360 arsenal:

For Microsoft Game Studios it is the number two behind only Halo 2. That’s a significant number.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetary

The game, which situates the player as a grizzled soldier fighting off alien invaders, is getting enormous attention for its stunning graphics and innovative gameplay. The impressive graphics emphasize the gory aspects of Gears, which the developers didn’t skimp on in the least.

A chainsaw mounted on the end of each player’s rifle slices into alien enemies, spewing out what Reuters calls, fountains of gore. Players can also smash their nearly-dead foes under foot, with a move that developers amusedly call, The Curb Stomp. Said Dan Hsu, editor-in-chief of Electronic Gaming Monthly:

It’s pretty graphic because it’s not just visually that you understand a head is being stepped on and squashed like a watermelon, you also hear it as well.

Unsurprisingly, the game will be rated M for Mature, meaning that Xbox 360 owners under the age of 17 will need a parent present to purchase the game.

Gamers play Gears of War at Xbox 360 kiosks

Despite the gore, members of the gaming community believe that Gears of War will have a substantial impact the industry.

If it’s not the most anticipated game of the year, it’s up there, said Gerald Villoria, an editor with GameSpy. It is riding a roller coaster of buzz and hype, and the hype doesn’t seem to be just smoke and mirrors.

The game is also inviting a lot of comparison to the Halo franchise for its gameplay, graphical innovation, and subject matter. Halo pits players against aliens on alien planets, while Gears pits players against aliens right here on Earth. Halo was the biggest game for the Xbox, and Gears is shaping up to be the biggest game on the Xbox 360. The endless comparisons between the two bode very well for Microsoft, which has been eagerly anticipating the Gears release to help boost sales of the Xbox 360. Gears of war hits shelves this week on November 7th.

Added Villoria:

It’s the kind of gameplay that might just revolutionize shooters.

Via Reuters
Check out more photos of the event at Flickr