Gears of War is making one more round on current-generation hardware, and Epic's art director Chris Perna is once again in charge of the look of the series. While no drastic changes have been made to the overall look of the franchise since it began in 2006, Perna and the team at Epic have been making subtle tweaks as the series has evolved. He talked about this as well as the process of designing a prequel in our interview below.

Game Informer: What was your approach when designing Gears of War: Judgment’s visual theme, and how does it compares with what the series has done in the past?

Chris Perna: I think one of the things that we want to get across is a lot more brutality of the Locust, a lot more fear. I think visually, it’s probably a darker theme than the other games as far as the Locust being scary again. We kind of got away from that a little bit over the course of the series. We’re trying to bring some of that back...some of the intensity, some of the fear. You know when we really concepted these things, they were stealers of children in the night. They were these ghostly figures. It was almost a survival horror game at one point. We kind of wanted to get back to the roots of the Locust and emergence day and show them as more vicious and fearsome.

What kinds of tweaks went into making the creatures scarier?

I’m not sure it’s so much an exact visual thing as an overall, encompassing thing with darker levels and scarier behaviors. More dark AI, things like that...they all come together to make them a bit more fearsome and brutal.

Tell us a little about designing the look of Halvo Bay.

I guess the overarching theme of Halvo Bay is sort of a San Francisco-type area. It was an older city that was built on armaments from the Pendulum War days and it gets destroyed. We wanted it to have that destroyed beauty look and carry that theme over, yet with a slightly darker tinge to it because emergence day recently happened.

We’re four games into the series now, and it features a wide range of enemies. How do you go about making a new enemy instantly identifiable when there are so many existing types with drastically different behaviors and looks?

Part of that is the dinosaur chart. We constantly refer to that. We got a bunch of little guys, now we need medium sized guys, and a giant guy. It just adds this palette to the scene when you see these big lumbering guys and fast moving guys. They all orchestrate together to create a really cool combat experience, and we try to think of those things when we design characters. In the past, we developed the Lambent to break cover. They had a specific purpose and that purpose was to break cover and break that game mechanic. They had tentacles and they could reach over cover and grow tall, that kind of stuff. Whether or not we really needed that or whether it was successful or not is debatable, but that is kind of the genesis of those ideas. Moving forward with Judgment, we tried to make the Locust feel scary again and give them a little bit more brutality...give them a little bit more aggressive AI behaviors and teamwork. Things that might surprise some people.