Review by SamuraiX424
"All the Gears seem to be turning quite nicely."
Let me just say, I chose to write this game almost a year after its release for a reason. At this point Epic has had the perfect amount of time to edit and critique Gears of War in any way they feel, and they did some job. I had got my Xbox 360 in late January, so Gears was still on the rise. I had purchased this game along with 2 others, and Gears consumed my time more than any others due to its nearly perfect composition and extremely high replay value. I will judge it based on graphics, sound, gameplay, story, and replay value/online play all out of 10.
Gears of War truly is the powerhouse of graphics for the 360. Even after almost a full year of being on store shelves, Gears still has some of the best looking scenes/overall graphics for any game on the system. It captures the essence of the progression of war, atleast in the campaign, and its dark and gloomy feel easily makes this a great looker. Obviously you can take graphical assets into two accounts in this generation, high definition and standard definition. I play this game on SD and let me tell you, it still looks great. The HD quality is clearly much better, but Epic honestly did a good job on both standards of TV. The online plays graphics are just as good. Sometimes you will catch yourself looking around certain levels admiring what good work had been done constructing them. For example, on a level like Fuel Depot, everything had been done to the T with detail, and before the latest patch, there had even been little items sitting on the shelves, and you had the ability to shoot them off. Although this doesn't sound significant to the game itself, it truly is nice to see such distinct detail and improvement go into games. Another great graphical feature in this game are the headshots/body explosions. This game does a perfect job with headshots, and although it's not a realistic animation, it surely is a satisfying one. Along with the body explosions, you can see the body parts of comrades or enemies fly across the level in some cases. Overall I, like many, appreciated the time went into making this game look as good as it does, and honestly, it does enhance the playing experience.
The sound in this game was also very nicely done. From the jamming of guns, to the popping of heads, this game does capture some nice "easy listening" if you will. Throughout war scenes in the campaign, Gears captures all the sounds of gunshots quite nicely. Whether it be the ricocheting off lying scrap metal, or merely glazing the area of cover your behind, everything is great. Voice acting was nicely done, and well put in emphasis was used when fights would be going on. Most games have the main player quiet while in battles, where as in Gears, they make sure you know what's going through their heads when going toe to toe with their locust enemies. The online plays sounds are also nice, as well as key to your playing habits. The more you play this game, the better you are at recognizing where certain events are happening. For example if one of your teammates get themselves caught up in some trouble and you don't know where they are, you can judge by the sound of their gunshots what general direction they are. Also if you're being trailed by an enemy, you can usually hear them giving you a significant amount of time to be able to react. The sound quality definitely fits in nicely with the graphics/animations, hand in hand the two make up nicely for Gears.
Personally, I think that gameplay is the most important aspect of a game. In order for a gamer to become good at a game, they need to be comfortable with the games controls, and overall consistency. The guys down at Epic did a good job with setting each action perfectly on your controller, and it's easy to adjust to the playing style for this game.
There are a couple of problems in which makes quite the difference in this game though. One problem that I, like others, have a problem with is the constancy level of this game. As far as campaign is concerned, everything works smoothly. But when you migrate to the online play, you can vary to having some of the greatest games ever, to games that make you want to tear your hair out. Since Gears online play runs off of individual host connections, and not servers, make sure you have a nice stable online connection before you start hosting. If not, I would advise you not to host due to the vast amounts of complaints/trash talk that will be started because of it. I would know, I'm usually one of those people that will let you know whether your connection is good or not, and complain all the way through [lol]. Branching from this is the consistency of your shot's strength. For example, "two piecing" an enemy online [with the shotgun] can be a nightmare. After the melee your shots tend to go through your opponent if done to soon, and not enough damage if done to late. There will also be cases where you can run right behind someone with a shotgun, shoot them point blank, and they'll turn around and blow you up in one hit. Most of the time this is due to the host's connection, which is why I advise you to find a good friend's connection to use before you start playing ranked matches, it will make that much of a difference. The second problem is sometimes the cover system can be extremely sketchy. You'll find yourself trying to escape from enemies and getting yourself stuck to everything on your way which could ultimately lead to your demise. Epic has had almost a year to fix theses problems, yet not much has been done. But manage to find a way past these problems, and it will be worth it.
Now when you're able to get past all these negative features, the gameplay in Gears honestly is very good. When you do manage to find a good connection to play off when you're not host, this game is vast amounts of fun. Also the gameplay has been adjusted to the control so well, it's honestly in my mind one of the easiest games to get used to, and progress moderately will in due time. When consistency is not a problem you'll have a blast sneaking up behind someone and splitting them with a shotgun, or chainsawing the poor little guy in half. Like I said, when you're able to get past the snipers that cut corners to a point where the snipe you from behind walls, and the very few glitchers that crab walk when they don't get their way, this game honestly is one of the best games out for the Xbox 360 today.
Now, the story in Gears of War is not exactly "original", but the way they go about explaining the story and its progression is where it gets good. Apparently you're on a planet known as Sara, where the locust horde and human society have been fighting for years. When you assume the role of Marcus Fenix many have been killed because of this battle, and much destroyed. As you play through you gradually learn more about your teammates in the campaign and pieces fall together quite conveniently. Epic has stated that Gears will be a 3 game series, so it will be interesting to see how our C.O.G. soldiers make their ways through the locust ranks and to the locust queen herself. Not much else is critical to the story, or atleast that I can say, so it'd be best just for you to play through it and find out yourself. :]
Replay Value/Online Play: 10/10
The replay value of Gears is immense. As far as campaign goes, you'll find yourself playing through atleast 2-3 times. The first time most likely on casual or hardcore [for the more daring] to get a hang of Gears of War and learn about it. The second to conquer it on insane to claim your achievements, or to simply see if you can handle Gears quite competent AI. And maybe a third time to collect any of those hidden C.O.G. tags you missed on your first two playthroughs. After the online, you get to what Gears of War is all about, its online play. You can find yourself playing this game for hours on end with friends in player matches, or ranked matches, just having a great time. Whether you're in a clan going head to head with another clan, or joking around smoke tagging eachother, Gears has some of the greatest replay value a game could have. You can play the same online level many times in a row, but the way you go about getting to your enemy/killing them can be altered virtually every time. Not to mention the achievement "Seriously..." (Kill 10,000 people in versus ranked match total) could take you months of ranked online play to get. But in the end it makes you proud to see that little gamer picture for "Seriously..." staring you back in the eye, thinking, "Man, I earned this bad boy." So, if you're looking for a good game that will have you playing with friends/online friends this game is the ideal choice. You'll see people that think they've "moved on" from Gears popping it in once in a while, simply because they miss it. So buy it, I guarantee you it's a $60 well spent.
Well, this is just one guy's opinion of the game, and truthfully I'm not what you'd consider a "fanboy" in the least. I had bought my Xbox 360 because I heard about how great the online play really was, and I decided I had to have it. I got two other games along with Gears, and Gears of War has clearly taken the most of my time, not even to beat either, sometimes just to have a great time. I had bought Halo 3 upon release, and although it's a sometimes fun game, Gears just seems to do it more for me. There are somethings Halo 3 just cannot do [headshots ;) ] and in my personal opinion Gears has just been the funner alternative out of the two. So does Gears really live up to the talk/hype? Of course.! When you get past the little things that taint this game [trash talkers, corner cutters, inconstancy], Gears could turn out to be the funnest time you can have with a video game.
Personal Average: 9.5/10
GameFAQs Average: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/03/07
Game Release: Gears of War (US, 11/07/06)
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