The internet only chugged a little last night with the arrival of Microsoft's Gears of War 2 trailer, because everyone and their mums knew it was coming.
But that doesn't mean we're not excited - in fact on the contrary; we've already gone back to play the first one again. But this time through we're imagining the fancy new shadow effects and flowing locust crowds that await us in number two. It's going to be awesome.
We've dissected the Gears of War 2 trailer thoroughly and picked out all of its little secrets you may have missed the first time around (or maybe not). So, magnifying glasses in hand...
Duel melee combat
Alright, you'd have to have the eyesight of Penfold from Danger Mouse to have missed this, but from the trailer it looks like we're in for some chainsaw duelling action in Gears 2. This, if anything, should make those frantic dashes to mash B first even more intense, and we're hoping for some fast-paced QTE sequences to resolve sparking Lancer clashes.
During the GDC keynote Epic president Mike Capps showed off an upgraded Gears of War engine, which allowed for hundreds of Locusts running around simultaneously on screen. While it wasn't mentioned this tech is blatantly lined up for the sequel. Although 300-man brawls wouldn't exactly be idle for the traditional hop 'n bop cover shooting, this should at least mean the vehicle sections in Gears 2 won't be quite as rubbish.
Another piece of new tech shown off in the GDC presentation was Dynamic Fluid Surfaces, which basically means 'water that moves and looks pretty'. One of the original Gears' strengths was its rock-solid pacing, so the addition of water environments - that should actually effect how you approach combat - promise even more variety in the sequel's environments. In a sad way, we're quite hoping for snorkelling Locust as well.
So far, the only official info we have on the second Gears is to do with the story, and it's sounding a bit bleak. According to Microsoft's blurb, it "continues the story of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad in an epic saga of survival, loss and retribution."
Sounds moody enough, especially when coupled with the game's tag-line "it never ends". Assuming this is the middle entry in a planned trilogy (because, come on, games never come in twos), we're expecting a cliff-hanger conclusion and perhaps even the death of a friend - but hopefully not Cole.
The destructible pillars, chairs and tables in Gears of War were already impressive, but the latest version of Unreal Engine 3 promises even more depth in the ways you can nock chunks of plaster off the ceiling.
In the GDC presentation, Capps showed walls and pillars demolishing realistically, but what really caught our attention was when he blew a hole clean in the floor. Hopefully then, Gears 2 multiplayer arenas will let you tactically shape your own shooting points, by shooting the cack out of the scenery.
"Soft Body Physics" might at first sound like the sort of tech Dove would employ for its latest PS2 game, but in reality it lets Epic stick all kinds of manky looking meat and goo into Gears 2.
Initially, this means that we'll simply be seeing some really gory looking corpses in Gears of War 2, but with a little more imagination Epic could opt to stick in a full-on goo gun in the game, similar to Resistance (and hopefully not UT).