Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 11.16.06
Emergence Day has arrived and the Locust Horde is taking on the unlucky solders in 'Gears of War.' It would be a mild statement to say 'Gears of War' is one of the most anticipated Xbox 360 game to date. The hype machines' gears have been turning for sometime, and the cogs have finally come to a climatic halt.
Before I climb over one more barricade, I'm not promising the answer to the question, is "Gears" the new Halo? All you should know is that "Gears" lives up to the hype... and that fact alone is pretty amazing.
It's true, 'Gears of War' deserves the high praise it's been getting from the fans, gamers, other developers and the media. It's rare that the hype can match the promise of a game, but "Gears" has done it, exceeding expectations. I had the chance to play "Gears" before its final release and I was impressed, but I wasn't totally sold until I had the final copy on my desk. My reservations and skepticism have been sliced into pieces and I couldn't be more overjoyed! I have been assimilated and agree with the masses; "Gears" rocks!
A Brother in Arms
There are several aspects that push 'Gears of War' to the top of charts. First off you will notice the graphics because they are stunning. However, "Gears" is more than pretty face, it also has the gameplay to back up the eye-pleasing visuals. 'Gears of War,' has been described as "stop-and-pop" or "duck-and-cover" gaming which basically means you'll be taking cover, shooting and then moving. "Gears" strangely reminds me of the WWII series 'Brother in Arms.' Both games excel in squad based shooter mixing in a level of suppress and flank tactics. The feeling you get when simply moving to the next cover spot makes you feel like you've accomplished something, even over the course of the entire game. Putting a little brain power behind the gun is just another bullet-point that separates "Gears" from other shooters that are mindless slaughtering fields.
Another selling point and important feature in 'Gears of War' is the co-operative play. You can traverse over the world of Sera with a friend, tackling every obstacle the Locust War machine throws at you. Lately I've there has been a greater focus on co-op gaming and "Gears" nails it, in execution and intensity. Every step is intense, and sharing this adventure with a friend is a great way to experience "Gears." The action can really grab you and nothing beats frantically yelling in your mic to grab cover and other orders while under the pressure of the oncoming hordes of bloodthirsty Locust solders.
The Locusts vs. Human War Begins
The storyline has you on the planet of Sera, warn stricken between the humans and the war like creatures called the Locust. Your character in the war between the Locust and humans is ex-con Marcus Fenix. Marcus who is recruited by the Sera army the COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) in the opening scene is one of those imposing, no nonsense type of guys who was perfectly bred for the lead character in a game. Marcus has a past that is kind of reveled in the storyline, but like any interesting character the mystery lives on giving more plot developments for more 'Gears of War' games. It is a good thing that Marcus is a versatile rugged solder because the Locust Horde is a group of superhuman monsters who live underground and feed on destruction. Coming in several sizes, speeds, and ugly, the Locus Horde instantly is a classic race of creatures that can be put up like the Covenant in Halo. Besides the random banter, and progressive storyline, Gears keeps it simple and gives gamers just what they need to sink their teeth into the game, while cheering for the good guys.
Keeping on the innovative root, is the way the storyline is delivered. Instead of laying the who story out and giving us big cinematic moves between each of the FIVE chapters in "Gears," Epic went the way of giving a little, every few boards that you progress. The plot progression is well balanced between the action sequences and never becomes too much of either. After a big battle, you might have a few moments to rest, but then again "Gears" might turn up the heat again. It's really innovative story telling and it helps make the game that more addictive. You always want more action and you are also craving the next plot development. Lately, games haven't been able to nail the flow of a game this well and it's nice to play a game that can hold your interest for every step your character takes.
OMG, I Love this Gun!
Now for action, the meat of the game, it's all broken down and simplified so the gamer can get to what's important, and that's killing! 'Gears of War' and its Lancer Assault Rife, the one with the chainsaw attached, makes gaming history of being one of the most satisfying weapons since Dooms' BFG. Cutting through the Locus with gasoline burning razor sharp chainsaw, revving as you cut through bone and flesh is amazing and after the blood fades from the screen, an evil smile with be one your face. It's more than satisfying; it's heaven with a trigger. Aside from the Chainsaw gun, the rest of the game is packed together with a simple control scheme, plenty of cool weapons, and a new innovative reloading mini-game. "Gears" mainly relies on the plays ability to react and hit the button "A". After a few moments you will "get it," and eventually flows like butter and can instantly be picked up and played.
I really feel the need to go one and point out every little innovation in nuance of Gears of War, but the reality is you're probably sick of me gloating about the games flawless execution and innovative gameplay. You just need to try Gears out for yourself and everything will be clear. In its own way revolutionize the way 3rd person action games have been portrait. If other developers follow suit, I could see the low aspect running, over the shoulder shooting and strategic team based combat leak into every game and become the replacement for first person shooters. I'm not giving all the credit to Gears, but this new 3 rd person shooter perspective is being perfected, and Gears is leading the pack.
...if I have to Complain
I know I've said some amazing things about Gears of War, and it's possible that some people might not be impressed. Gears does have a few very minor faults that could be singled out. In no disrespect to the awesomeness that is Gears of War, here are a few of my small gripes. First, the chainsaw gun is amazing, but it's hard to use and doesn't feel as natural as the other weapons. To work the chainsaw you have to use "B" which is the melee attack while holding down the trigger to attack, which goes against the single "B" melee attack for all the other weapons. The problem is that your fingers will be occupied on buttons and the left analog stick that you can't properly move the character like the other weapons. Yea, that's a small gripe, but I mentioned they are minor.
The other minor grip is that the "A" button simple does too much, run, jump, hide, move, roll. It's cool that it is simplified, but they could have added a few more controls. Also movement like jumping over an obstacle has you pressing "A" to press against a wall of sorts and then you have to press "A" again to jump over or through the object like a barrier or window. You can't simply jump over the object; you have to go through that other step first. Again, not a real big deal, and the "A" overdose is something that is almost instantly forgotten.
Graphically, Gears of War pulls ahead of anything else we've seen on the Xbox 360 and for games on a whole. Gears of War is a breathtaking graphical masterpiece. Epics new Unreal engine really shows its power, and it will be the "must have" graphics engine for this current generation of games. Epic really every aspect of the term graphics and details the hell out of everything like we've never seen before. The facial animations, and look of the characters skin is more life like than ever, and that travels over to every aspect of the world the Epic created. It's rich with detail, and creativity. The design team really used the bulked up look from the Unreal games and pumped it full of testosterone. This game is simply, massive. If you don't already know from being at a friends and seeing Gears in action, this is the one game that needs to be run on your brand new home theater, and if you're not HD already, Gears might sway you to take cover in the nearest Best Buy Plasma screen isle. Good Luck solder, this stuff isn't cheap.
The sound is on equal terms with the amazing graphics; actually I can't stop saying enough about Gears. The sound is rich with atmospheric noises, great sound effects from the weapons, to the creature dialog. Along with cool and believable sounds in Gears is a great job from the voice talent. John Dimaggio who voices lead character Marcus Fenix did an excellent job making the image suit the attitude and sound of the character. This goes along with the other characters as well, the whole cast did an exception job with their, abet, short bursts of lines, making the game feel more realistic and believable. Mike Larson, deserves a nice pat on the back for the audio direction, making Gears of War the game that other games want to sound like.
Gears of War is one of the most impressive games that have come out in recent years. Gears of War can boasts in every aspect of its design. From the impressive visuals, to the intense action and atmospheric world, Gears of War is a system seller, and a great accomplishment from the Epic team. If you don't already own Gears of War, you need to bump this innovative shooter up to the front of your 'must have' list. Gears of War, really is as good as the hype demands, and worth every moment you invest with it. Gears of War might just be the new Halo Microsoft is looking for.
Engaging and disturbing cinematic story: Massively scoped worlds, memorable characters, and an epic storyline play out like an intense and unsettling blockbuster action film. Dramatic in-game camera work and a compelling story bring the brutal, emotionally charged experience to life. Control Marcus Fenix and his fire team as you pit advanced human technology against the overwhelming and horrific Locust Horde.
Fire team co-op action: All game modes, levels, and scenarios are designed for cooperative fire team play (A.I. or human). For the first time, A.I. teammates are indiscernible from human players. They move intelligently, take orders effectively, and seek cover and defend themselves when necessary. Experience rich cooperative gameplay through unique characters that require cooperation to survive.
Unprecedented visuals: Gears of War ushers in the next generation with unprecedented visuals. The Unreal Engine 3 technology pushes high-definition visual designs and brings out the smallest details in the largest battle. Experience a rich dynamic world with an unprecedented level of detail. Characters come to life with unbelievable model quality and a physics-integrated animation system that has them truly reacting intelligently to events as they unfold around them.
Hyper-realistic and intense combat: The battlefield is a lethal place-to foolishly stand out in the open is to die. To survive, create and take cover using interactive and dynamic environments, suppress the enemy with blindfire, and use weapons and teammates to outwit and outfight terrifying enemies.
Xbox Live action: Gears of War will embody the next-generation Xbox Live experience and extend it even further. Experience individualized matchmaking, view player statistics, earn player achievements, customize your games, and build and personalize your gamer profiles.