Review by Link165
"This game is far from "epic""
According to most, Gears of War is the one exclusive game that every Xbox 360 owner must own. Well, it's received great reviews, has sold many copies, and is currently Xbox Live's most popular game, surpassing Halo 2, which MADE Xbox Live. But is Gears of War REALLY worth owning?
Well, at least the visuals are nice.
I will admit, these graphics are some of the best you'll see on a next generation console. Every square inch of the game is incredibly detailed and the environments are all very diverse and sharp textured. Marcus Fenix and the buddies you play with are also very detailed, as well as the other characters you'll interact with. The Locust look pretty good too, despite the fact there's only a few different models. However, the game has the same problem as Halo 2; it occasionally takes time for the textures to fully load(it's only about half a second however). The frame rate also stays fairly consistent and doesn't slow down.
There's also the blood in this game. Gears has a lot of blood and gore. The blood looks a little misfitting for such a realistic looking game, it's red and black instead of a blood red red and looks like it belongs in a cartoon. The gore doesn't disappoint however, there's a lot of it and there's several different pieces of it.
And it sounds nice.....
The sound for the most part doesn't disappoint either. The voice actors in the game are superb, specifically Cole and Marcus. And all of the characters have fantastic lines. The Locust speak English, but in deep voices. The Boomer(the guys with the rocket launchers) yells "BOOM!" before firing, a slightly humorous line. The guns and explosions all sound very good as well.
On the flip hand, the music is a mixed bag. It is VERY repetitive, and hearing the same music over and over during a fight gets very annoying. The music itself is good, however, there are only TWO songs that play during the entire game. Two. A few more play during cutscenes on occasion, but that's about it.
10/10 for the effects, 5/10 for the music. Would be a 7 but I'll be generous; 8/10
But it plays terrible
As we (should) know, the most important aspect of any game is the game itself. And this is where Gears falls flat on it's face. You play as Marcus Fenix, a former COG soldier who was locked away in prison for abandoning his post. Well, the COG is growing desperate as the Locust(what an original name....) is taking over their home planet of Sera. The game starts out in the prison, where Marcus's friend, Dominic Santiago, busts him out. From here on, it's 6 long missions of gunning down endless amounts of Locust that come in your way. The story, imo, could have been much more developed but it wasn't. Oh well.
The game takes place in a third person perspective, you controlling Marcus. There is no crosshair by default, the only way to get one is to hold L to bring one up. Unlike almost every single shooter out on the market today, Gears makes the use of a very interesting cover system. Almost ANYTHING can be used in the environment for cover from Locust forces. The reason why you need to use cover is because Marcus dies VERY quickly.
Basically, all you do is press A near something to put your back to it. From there, you can move up and down the obstacle to either end of it, and at one end, poke your gun out and shoot at whatever is out there. If the object is low enough, you don't even have to move to an end to shoot. You can shoot in two ways; by holding L, you can aim more accurately, but you can be shot and possibly killed. Or, you can just hold down the fire to poke just your gun out and shoot. It's inaccurate but you won't get hit.
Now, based on this, the cover system seems fantastic. It isn't. Broken is the perfect word to describe it. You see, when you're behind cover, you are essentially invincible(the only way you can die is if an enemy flanks you and unloads a clip onto you). Put yourself in this scenario. There is a wall behind you and a pillar two feet away. On the other side is a boomer, ready to blow you away. If I were to just run up to said pillar and not move, he fires at the wall and I die from the splash damage.
However, if I press the "magical" A button, he fires at the same location and I DON'T die. See where I'm going with this? Well, now that my rant about the flawed cover system is done and over with, lets move on.
The weapons in Gears are incredibly generic and boring. You have the full auto machine gun, semi auto gun, sniper rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, and two different pistols. There are however, two original weapons; the Hammer of Dawn and the Torque Bow.
The Hammer of Dawn is encountered early in the game. Hold down the fire button and a huge laser is fired from the sky and can kill anything you move it across, including yourself. However, you can only used it outdoors, and only at certain times. And you only use it a handful of times in the entire game. It doesn't really feel like a weapon, it feels more like one of those artillery guns you use to blow up a tank in a WWII game. It shoots, but it isn't a real weapon.
The other is the Torque Bow. This isn't used until the later missions, but it is very cool. Hold down the fire button to build up power, then launch the bolt at a foe. He explodes. Very cool, however, ammo is scarce for this thing.
But of course the Lancer has to be mentioned. The Lancer is the full automatic weapon. It's most notable feature is the chainsaw that is located on it. By holding down the melee button(B), you can start it up, and you only have to run into an unsuspecting enemy to cause blood to splatter all over the screen and for Mr. Locust to be cut into pieces. However, due to the fact that if you get hit with this you have to start it all over again, and the fact that you'll be fighting enemies from a distance, you won't be using it much.
An interesting thing with every weapon is the active reload system. Whenever you press the reload button, a small meter appears below the weapon indicator. If you press the reload button again when the bar is in the highlited area, you'll get a shorter reload time and can fire again right away. If you time it even more perfectly, then you can even get a damage bonus.
The AI is a mixed bag. On the good hand, the enemy AI is some of the best I've seen in a long time. They behave in such a way in that the same mission is never played the same way twice. They'll flank, use grenades, etc etc. The only flaw is if you flank THEM, they'll often just stand while they get shot. However, as good as the enemies are, your squadmates are bad. They constantly get in the way and run off and get killed. You can "command" them but they often don't listen(to me at least). Thumbs up to Epic for the AI overall.
One thing I constantly hear is how "hard" Gears is. Ha. The only reason why this game is hard is because it almost never saves. There's a checkpoint once every 15 minutes or so. Now I will admit, "Insane" mode is hard, but the others aren't as hard as they're made out to be.
As for the levels, they are fairly linear. However, there are some select points in the game where you can choose your path, which adds a VERY small amount of replay to the game.
Another major pain in the ass aspect of gears is the aiming sensitivity. Moreso in multiplayer then here, but the highest sensitivity setting isn't even that high.
Overall, the gameplay in Gears of War is not very fun and it's very broken. I like the cinematic feel and the enemy AI, but there isn't too much to be found here.
And I thought Halo 2's was bad. The multiplayer in Gears of War makes me want to repeatedly stab kittens. There's two modes, co-op and versus. Co-op is generally a lot of fun. The second player plays as Dominic Santiago. It would have been nice though, if you could get four people playing in co-op, THAT would have been fun.
The versus is god-awful though. First off, you can only have eight players online in a game. EIGHT. I don't know about you, but I like more people in a game than less. Secondly, there are only four modes. Annex, just put into the game in the spring update, is a king of the hill type game. Warzone is your standard team death match, but I'll get into why this is terrible later. Execution is Warzone, except you have to curbstomp your foe in order to truly kill him. The final is Assasination, where you can only get points by killing the leader of your team. Unfortunately, none of these game modes are fun to play at all. The maps themselves are decent.
In Gears, you only have ONE life, unless it's Annex. Well, if there's only 8 to a match, looks like the games are quick right? Wrong. Gears of War is round based, meaning you do this several times a game. Kill all of the other team and you win a round, win the most rounds to win the game. What happened to the good old days where we could just look at who killed more to see who wins?
Also, like Halo, Gears of War is a rush for the best weapon. This isn't as bad as it is in Halo, because you start with the Lancer and the shotgun(both very capable killing machines). Still, you have to pick up GRENADES on the map. That's really.....dumb.
There's ranked matches, and there's also player matches. Fortunately for anyone who doesn't have friends on Live, you don't need to be invited under most circumstances, you can just find the game you like and join. Unfortunately, the lack of customization hurts the diversity, all you can really do is choose which weapons spawn where. And in ranked matches, it's not even possible to do that.
There is no matchmaking system(like Halo's) in gears at all. Every ranked match is hosted by a player. And make no mistake, whoever the host is in Gears gets a clear advantage over everybody else. I'm not being sour here, as I've had many hosts on my team as well, and the advantage the host gets hurts the game greatly. And if that host were to quit, it's almost guaranteed the other 7 people gets booted too.
Gears multiplayer really isn't that much fun to play. The coop is ok but could have been better, and the versus is plain terrible
Aside from the terrible multiplayer and harder difficulty, there isn't much replay in this game. And the co-op. There's also the occasional choose your path in the single player game. There are also the COG tags to collect, but this can actually be accomplished on the first playthrough.
And now for the big question: rent or buy?
I'd rent it for a week and see if you like it or not, and then buy only if you love it.
-some of the best graphics you'll find today.
-co-op is fun
-sound effects are awesome
-chainsaw is awesome
-cover system is incredibly broken
-weapons are generic and boring
Overall, Gears of War is not a bad game, but it is immensely overrated by the general public. Anyone who wants an ok 360 game should consider this, however, don't be shocked if you're disappointed. This game is a perfect example of how graphics do not make a game.
Final score: 6/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 04/16/07, Updated 06/15/07
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