Cliff Bleszinski is apparently tired of not working because he announced on Twitter that he is coming out of retirement to create video games again. His new game and possible studio will be revealed next week.
Most gamers will remember Bleszinski as “Cliffy B,” the creator of the Gears of War series. He started at Epic Games 20 years before announcing his retirement in October of 2012. What most will not remember is that he is responsible for other big games as well.
Back in 1994, Bleszinski co-created the Jazz Jackrabbit series. The side-scrolling action game was inspired by the game Zool. The plan was to bring a game similar to console side-scrollers onto the PC platform. The game, unlike Sonic the Hedgehog, did not sell as well as a console game, but was successful enough to spawn a sequel and launch Bleszinski’s career.
Next, in 1998, Bleszinski was put on the Unreal team and created one of the most successful first-person shooters on the PC. Unreal was acclaimed for having superior graphics to any other game at the time. The engine that created the game, Unreal Engine, is still in use in modern games in both PC and home console games.
Just as Bleszinski had a part in creating Unreal, Epic Games provided the gaming community with the chance to also become creative, including the level editing software, UnrealEd. This software spawned community-created maps and helped push Unreal to the top rank of first-person shooters. Its online multiplayer would spin off into a different series titled Unreal Tournament.
Now that Bleszinski has announced that he is coming out of retirement, he can get back to creating games that make huge impacts. Unreal helped jump start both an online multiplayer and a new game engine, yet it was not his greatest success.
In 2006, Bleszinski designed Gears of War for the Xbox 360 and the PC. Instead of focusing on a first-person view, the Gears of War camera looked over the shoulder of the character and created a cover system where characters could lean against short and tall walls to protect themselves from gunfire.
Gears of War featured a strong campaign, but its online multiplayer was what really made the game a success. Two teams of four would battle it out to win a set of rounds, but in a departure from usual online shooting games, a player could only die once per round, meaning that the round was won when the players on one team were wiped out.
Among all of the weapons found in the game, one weapon stood out more than the others and became a favorite of all video game weapons. The Lancer was a rifle, featuring a chainsaw, that could be used while close to an opponent for an instant kill. When this happened, the camera would move to a side view, enabling the wielder of the Lancer to see the damage done to the opponent by the weapon. During multiplayer, the opponent would also be treated to the same view, which only added to the humiliation of being killed.
In time, a real-life Lancer would be made, and a replica given to Bleszinski, who would pose for photos with the replica and carry it with him during certain events. During his time with the Gears of War franchise, he became the face of Epic Games, gaining celebrity status as well.
Upon leaving Epic Games, Bleszinski noted that it was his own fame with the Gears of War series that caused him to retire. He wanted people to think about him as a video game creator rather than just the guy that made Gears of War. He believes that people forget about his earlier work and overlook his recent work with smaller development teams. Bleszinski’s last title with Epic Games was Gears of War 3.
Bleszinski’s decision to come out of retirement is his way of returning to making games and showing that he has more than just a chainsaw glove up his sleeve. In a week, he will announce what new game he is going to work on and what it is about the game that made him return.
By Raul Hernandez