before the system was released, one game and one game only has had the fanboys
(and even the non-fanboys) drooling all over themselves, and that’s Gears of
War. Reputedly the game that was single-handedly responsible for the 512 MB of
RAM in the Xbox 360, Gears of War utilizes the highly-publicized Unreal Engine 3
(one of the first games to do so) in a high-intensity war-torn world.
all common knowledge at this point, and chances are that if you’re reading this,
then you’re well aware of the enormous hype surrounding Microsoft and Epic’s
baby. You’ve seen the trailers and amazing screenshots. You know about the
curb-stomping, guns with chainsaw bayonets, and so on. No, what you’re concerned
with is how the game plays. Does it live up to its incredible aesthetic? Well,
fortunately, it does. Gears of War plays like an action shooter should, tense
with never a lull in the action, complete with balanced gameplay and innovative
of War puts you on Sera, a planet decimated by war. The nations on Sera have had
to vie for precious resources, leaving the planet’s collective military
exhausted. Unfortunately, it’s around this time that the Locust hordes begin to
spring up from underground and lay waste to human existence. No one knows for
sure where they came from or why they feel the need to wipe humanity off the
face of the planet, but they will do so come hell or high water.
Marcus Fenix, a soldier wrongfully imprisoned for cowardice during the Pendulum
Wars (the resource war that the Locust interrupted), who gets busted out to
fight off the enemy hordes. You fight alongside other soldiers, utilizing their
assistance throughout the campaign.
than just a standard third-person shooter, Gears of War does some key things to
separate it from the rest of the action game pack. The most prevalent factor in
the game is the necessity to use cover constantly. By pressing the A Button in
key locations, you’ll take cover behind anything that’s viable, from broken
walls to wayward stoves and other household appliances. Once behind cover, you
can shoot blindly or aim properly (although that will leave you more open to
gunfire), or jump out from behind your cover to take the enemy on. If you’d like
to stay mobile but still utilize your cover, you can switch quickly between
cover objects by SWAT turning.
cool element that differentiates the game from other shooters is the new active
reload system. Reloading now requires a bit of reflex, as the active reload
system requires you to hit the reload button a second time at just the right
moment to reload quickly. If you press if perfectly, you’ll even gain a little
bonus that make the bullets in your clip extra powerful.
weapons are also very well balanced and work well in the game. Aside from the
assault rifle with the chainsaw attachment for melee joy, you’ll also have
access to shotguns, pistols including magnums, as well as Locust weaponry. One
cool weapon is the Hammer of Dawn, with which you “paint” a target with a laser
so a satellite can position itself overhead and take out targets below,
especially handy with bigger enemies.
shooter certainly wouldn’t be complete without its robust online features, and
Gears of War doesn’t disappoint. The co-op mode is fantastic, allowing you to
team up with a buddy either via split-screen, system link or through Live. There
are also multiplayer matches through Live for up to eight people to blow each
Graphically, the game and the Unreal Engine 3 are amazing, the best-looking game
ever in many ways. While the engine is responsible for this in some ways, the
art direction is also phenomenal. The game has more in common with Black Hawk
Down and other modern scenes of warfare than it does with sci-fi material like
Halo. This is especially prevalent during the “roadie run.” where your character
crouches down and sprints across the battlefield. When you do this, the camera
will bounce along as it follows your stride, giving off a distinct war
décor in the environment is fantastically detailed, presenting decimated cities
that were obviously cultural Meccas once upon a time, with very Greek and
Roman-inspired design. The enemies are also varied enough to stay original and
never feel repetitive. Also, the special effects are great and the blur effect
keeps the motion fluid.
sound is also great, with an amazing score and some jaw-dropping sound effects.
The voice acting is also very good, with the battle-hardened characters sounding
appropriately gruff. The one problem I had with the voice acting was the
constant affirmation after every kill. Once or twice every now and then is good,
but when every single enemy kill is met with a “Nice!” or “That’s what I’m
talkin’ about!” it can get a little cheesy. Particularly intense firefights can
start to sound like a couple of guys spotting each other in the weight room.
of War delivers the compelling experience that Xbox 360 fans have hoped it would
since day one. If you currently own a 360, you should know that this game is
why. Buy it now.
Gears of War
Gears of War has
easy to grasp gameplay with solid controls and tons of action. Plus, the weapons
are great (you just can’t beat the chainsaw attached to a gun).
Gear’s of War is
a graphical tour de force, not only due to the gorgeous Unreal Engine 3, but
also the fantastic art design.
The score is
excellent, and the sound effects are crisp and booming. The voice work is also
good, even if some of the post-kill words of encouragement can get a little
The co-op mode is
fantastic, and the solid gameplay mechanics translate well into the online
Gears of War
presents its world extremely well. While the story may not be very fleshed out,
the world and the sense of atmosphere make it compelling.
Gears of War is a
fantastic journey that takes advantage of what the Xbox 360 has to offer, and
shouldn’t be missed.