Gears of War is a third-person shooter that places emphasis on using cover to avoid taking damage while moving towards enemy forces. The game uses a number of weapon archetypes, but predominately featured is the Lancer, an assault rifle that has a mounted chainsaw bayonet that can be used to kill foes at close range. The player can attempt an "Active Reload" of a weapon to reload it faster and temporarily boost the damage from the gun, but failing to perform the Active Reload correctly will cause the gun to become momentarily jammed while the player's character fixes it. When the player takes damage, the "Crimson Omen", a red cog representing the player's health gauge, will fade into the screen, becoming more defined with larger amounts of damage. The player can seek cover to recover their health, but if they take too much damage, they will become incapacitated. Once this occurs, a skull will fill the center void of the omen. Depending on the game type being played, the consequences will vary. If single-player career mode is being played, instant death will follow. If there is a second player, they will have to revive their fallen teammate.
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Gears of War was developed by Epic Games. Cliff Bleszinski, who has previously worked on Epic’s Unreal Tournament games, served the series’ lead game designer for the first three installments. He was inspired by gameplay elements from Resident Evil 4, Kill Switch, and Bionic Commando. The series was also guided by Rod Fergusson, the executive producer and director of development of Epic Games until 2012. The first four installments of the Gears of War series used a modified version of the Unreal Engine 3 engine. On January 27, 2014, Microsoft acquired all rights to the franchise from Epic Games. Canadian studio The Coalition developed Gears of War 4, which was released on October 11, 2016 for the Xbox One and Windows 10.