Gears of War 3:The Anatomy of a Lancer

No matter what multi player game you play these days there will always be an eternal debate over what weapon(s) rule supreme on the virtual battlefield. Some games prefer to give players a limited selection of finely balanced weapons to choose from and other ones go the route of ” more is better” and cram as many weapons into the game as possible. That inevitably results in the game becoming unbalanced and the term ” OP” ( Over Powered) being slapped on a great deal of said weapons and accordingly a large amount of players picking them as their weapon of choice.

Developers face a very tricky task when it comes to weapon balance and even more so if they are trying to create an Iconic weapon for the games hero in the campaign portion of the game.
Several games have accomplished this very well  but with the recent deluge of Military FPS games hitting the market unique weapons are fading into obscurity only to be replaced with mundane contemporary weapons like M-16’s, FAMAS, AK-47’s and Draganov sniper rifles. To me most of these guns start to blur together and the numerical designations of the guns confuse the shit out of me almost as if the game is expecting me to become an expert Firearms dealer in my own right. Like how in hell am I supposed to memorize a bazillion guns!

Enter Gears of War. When the game debuted back in 2006 Epic studios had created a science fiction universe with military trappings of its own. The characters where larger than life ” bad asses” and were organized in that fiction’s own military fighting unit called the ” COG”.

As with any organized combat unit they to had a plethora of gear and weapons and the games multi player is where those weapons would ultimately get their trial by fire in the hands of players around the world.

Today we are going to be taking a look at one of those weapons; the ‘Lancer”

The Lancer started life as a gun with a bayonet attached to it, or at least it did behind the closed doors at  the EPIC studios developer meetings. The brains behind the Gears of War franchise where looking for that iconic weapon that would serve as a identifying ” water cooler” talk after playing a game with it in your hands and they needed something that gave players a visceral feeling of future warfare and the sheer manliness that the main characters of the campaign portrayed.

The idea of combining a Chainsaw and an assault rifle was born out of those meetings and as lead designer ” Cliffy B” put it; It was like the reeces pieces of video game weapons, Chocolate and Peanut Butter!

Specifications

Name: Lancer  MK2
Rate of Fire: Fully Automatic
Magazine Size: 50 bullets per clip
Close Combat solution: Yes

Chainsaw Bayonet: This was a new addition over the MK1’s traditional bladed bayonet as it was discovered that it was insufficient in dealing with the COG’s new threat; the Locust. Soldiers where complaining that the traditional bayonet was incapable of penetrating the thick hides and carapace armor of their new enemies and a better solution was required. Adam Fenix made a design that incorporated a chainsaw as a replacement and thus was born the Mark 2.

The Chainsaw consists of a variable torque motor with razor-sharp, Carbon tipped blades that pretty much turns anything it touches into a pile of giblets!

Gameplay

Since its introduction the Lancer has been the topic of debate amongst gears of wars fans. The controversy only started once everyone jumped online and started playing against other players because obviously no one complained that the weapon was too powerful against the enemy ai in campaign mode.

Everything looks better in pink..death dealing firearms are no different

Debate ranged from it being to weak to the weapon being OP. Centre at all of this was the ability to use the chainsaw in multiplayer as a ” 1 hit kill” if you where close enough. The Lancer had an uncanny ability to ” suck” enemy players in with a vacuum of death due to its contact range. The result of this was you would see players walking around the map Texas Chainsaw Massacre style with revved up chain saws just hoping to walk close enough to another player so that the vacuum would suck them into a 1 hit hill via Chainsaw execution. I myself must confess that I too have walked around many a corner in all gears iterations chainsaw revved hoping to catch an opposing player unaware.

In the sequels that followed its introduction there have been some minor  tweaks to appease fans of the weapon. Most notably was the initial ability to stop a ” Chainsaw Noob” in his tracks by shooting him so that he lowered his weapon and had to re start  the chainsaw. This feature was removed in Gears 3 and now sits with you either killing the chainsaw walking lunatic outright before he sucks you into his vacuum or getting the fuck out of there and running away!
To offset this apparent ” Noob enabling” feature the current iteration of the Lancer requires a quick crank up of the chainsaw. Much like starting a lawnmower you need to crank it up and then proceed with your chainsaw kill. This minor tweak ensures that instant chainsaw kills are a thing of the past.

Gunplay wise the Lancer has received minor adjustments over the years as far as bullet damage and effectiveness as a ranged weapon. Bullet damage was a sore spot initially as some felt it was way overpowered and the current Gears 3 version finds a sweet spot as a starting rifle versus an over relied on weapon of choice. I find I like it because it has a weighty feel without having too much recoil. Keep in mind in the Gears franchise there are not a crazy amount of weapons to choose from and the Lancer makes up one of three standard weapons in this category with the Hammerburst and Retro Lancer rounding out the list. With only 3 weapons of this type the balance issues are almost non existent and the gunplay is tight and player skill dependant.

Gears of War may not be everyone’s cup of tea as far as competitive multi player goes but there is no denying that the Lancer is one of the most insanely cool weapons to ever be in a video game. If you’re not convinced have a look at the the video below and tell me that this gun doesn’t kick ass!

Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash

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