Review by TezChi

"Good Game, but definately overhyped and overrated."

If you have a 360, and even if you don't, you will have no doubt heard of Gears of War. Like many other games, it has been hailed a “Halo Killer” and “likely Game of the Year” before we even knew anything about it. As you will no doubt know, it has been impossible to escape the Hype surrounding this game; I however, never really fell for it. For this reason, this is a Review of the game from a strictly gamers perspective, as I came into the Game with no Hype whatsoever, and to be honest, I didn't expect too much from it to begin with.

Graphics wise of course, you can't get better than Gears of War. Without doubt this has the best graphics I have ever seen, and it doesn't take much for you to know that too, just look at some screenshots or videos and you can see for yourself. The smallest details are visible, it really is stunning. I have tried the game in both 720p HDTV and also on a Standard TV, and on both sets it looked amazing. Arguably the graphics are the first thing you will notice about the game, and in a sense, they are some of what keeps you playing. I always wanted to see what beautifully rendered building or area would come up next. The Games ‘Destroyed Beauty' art direction is definitely a Work of Art, you can sit and simply look at it for hours on end if you wanted to, it really does look that good.

Musically the game has a fantastic Score, Orchestral and Epic in feel, and fading in and out completely seamlessly. The music really fits in well with the set pieces, creating a feel of Heroism, Despair, or simply an Epic, larger than life feel. The sound effects are also very satisfying, especially the reloading, which always feels great to hear after clearing a room of Locusts. Voice acting is good for the most part, though possibly a bit clichéd, as is the stereotyped ‘American Movie' Dialogue, but don't let that put you off. If you have a Surround Sound system, the sound really stands out a lot, from the smallest dripping water to the biggest explosions; it is all very crisp and sounds just right for the game.

Now, the moment you've all been waiting for. Gameplay. Without Gameplay, games would not be games. Gears of War, as you will no doubt already know, is a so called ‘Duck and Cover' Third Person Shooter. This immediately put me off the whole game when I first heard it, but when I sat down to play, it was definitely original and very fun. Basically, you can enter and exit cover with the press of one button, and then peek over and empty a few rounds before going back into Cover. When under Cover, your health regenerates quickly, which alleviates any “one more hit and I'm dead” moments, which is pretty cool. This all adds up for a very fun and rewarding game, specially when on harder difficulties. There are 3 difficulty settings, Casual, Hardcore, and Insane. The Casual difficulty is of standard difficulty, but maybe a bit too easy in places. Hardcore is better, and you really have to take cover a lot more often. So, what else is there to the game apart from taking Cover? All people talk about is cover, cover, cover. Well…that's pretty much it. Seriously. Well, I tell a lie, there is a particularly excellent part in Act 2 where you are in darkness and have to find and use Light, and also a pretty short but fun Driving Part. However, the Core of the game is duck and cover, you better get used to ducking and covering because that is basically what Gears of Cover..uh..War…is all about. Before you take this as a negative, remember I said the game is very fun. And that it is, this system allows a '30 seconds of fun' game environment where you constantly want to see what is coming next and feel a real sense of achievement when you do anything in the game. That coupled with the games brilliant world and your left with a satisfying, brilliant feeling game. Online is good, though I found the standard Versus Team Deathmatch numbingly boring compared to games such as Halo or Call of Duty. But the online Co-Op is a definite win, very fun to play through the whole game with a friend.

However, before you run to the shops expecting the Game of the Year, remember that Gears of War is not perfect (yep, this is the part where I complain), in fact, it has a few flaws which have in my opinion been overlooked by most people so far. Yes, I definitely think this game has been severely overrated by the media, due to the of course excellent graphics and ridiculous levels of hype. For a start, and one of my biggest Gripes in the whole game is the Story. Or more appropriately, the Lack of Story. It is very strange how Cliffy B said himself many times that he thinks games require a compelling narrative, and has even said that Gears will have a epic emotional feeling storyline. So Cliffy, where is it? Seriously, I cant seem to find it anywhere, have I misplaced it? No, Gears of War has no Story, no story at all. The sad thing is that the game could easily have had a brilliant storyline, and it is apparent that the blueprints for this are in place, the backstory of the planet Sera and Emergence Day are all very cool. But the game has none of it. It appears that Epic Games have thought a storyline is not important, or rushed the game and somehow forgot to put it in. Well, a Story IS important, if you want your game to be taken seriously that is. Anyway, that's a matter I am willing to overlook because the game is so much fun to play. But it is very annoying. Other flaws include a Frame Rate drop in cut scenes, which doesn't happen often, but when it does it is a real annoyance to watch. Also, I have found the controls a bit messy and hard to get used to, for example, it is appears Cliffy B has a Fetish for the A Button on the 360 pad. The A Button does a lot of actions, such as enter and exit cover, roll, and Sprint (roadie Run). Too often I found myself doing a forward roll instead of getting into cover, and therefore getting shot.

As you can see, the positives outweigh the negatives in this game, it is definitely a brilliant game. However, if such problems like No Story, Frame Rate, Control issues and the occasional crap AI were in any other game, it would be hammered by Revisers. But Gears of War gets straight 10's. The Game is either Selling on Hype alone, or a mixture of Hype and no doubt amazing graphics. If this game did not have the Graphics it has, there is no way it would be rated as high as it is. Like I said, I came into the game with no Hype. I was proved wrong in a lot of areas, Gears of War is compelling and Fun to play, but I don't know if it warrants enough for Replay Value or lasting appeal.

I Award Gears of War….

7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/06


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