Review by TheRedneck14

"Gorgeous Graphics, Fast paced action, but almost no detail to the story..."

Gears of War was one of the first games made by the legendary company Epic Games, and Cliffy B to showcase the Unreal III engine, and it became one of the best selling and most popular games on the Xbox 360 when it was released in 2006. So, lets get started...

Story: 4

Now, as you can see I gave the Story a very low score, but why did I do that? If you look at the plot overviews on websites like Wikipedia, or if you have the booklet that comes with the Limited Edition version of this game it does give you a very detailed backstory of the game. But my problem is that IN the game, so many things were very poorly explained, but I'll get to that later. First, lets see just what the story is [if you have not played the game yet]

Everything starts off on Sera, a planet that the Coalition of Ordered Governments [or COG] is currently controlling, and which contains a very valuable substance known as Imulsion. Then "Emergence Day" occurred when the Locust Horde came out of the ground and struck many vital areas of Sera. So, after most of the planet is taken over by the Locust, the COG has to hide on the Jacinto Plateau which is a place that the Locust are unable to burrow into, but the Locust still continue their assault on the Coalition, and cause their numbers to dwindle.

After that, we move into where the game starts off [that last section was just the backstory, which was untold in the game]. 14 years after Emergence Day, your character Marcus Fenix is taken out of the prison that he was incarcerated in for "breaking orders", and the basic goal is to find the "Resonator" which would map the Locust tunnels that are underground, and allow the COG to fire some missiles that would obliterate the Locust.

Now, most people would think that is a decent story, and although there are plenty of things explained in booklets that come with the game, during the game itself very few things are well explained. I don't think I heard one mention in the game about WHY Marcus was in Prison [except for "his trial was a sham"], I never heard much about where the Resonator came from, I never heard about why there was a laboratory in Marcus' old house, I never heard who in the hell that female Locust whose voice was heard a couple times in the game was! I am almost certain that if I did not look this stuff up on Wikipedia after I beat the game, I would have had no idea what the hell the story was about.

Well, if you are a fan of the games that Epic puts out this should not matter to much anyway. Besides nobody bought Unreal Tournament for the story, they bought it for the fast paced bloody action. But hopefully, in the next two games [since I heard that this would be a Trilogy, and the next one comes out in November] they do a much better job on the Story because there is a decent one in here if they just learn how to tell it.

Gameplay: 8

The first thing you should notice about this game is that it is not like your normal FPS game, in fact I felt that it controlled a lot like what a faster paced Resident Evil 4 would of been, along with the cover feature from Perfect Dark Zero.

The basic difference in how this game plays from most FPS games is that the camera is behind you [making it a 3rd Person Shooter], and you have to make extensive use of cover or you will just get slaughtered by the Locust, even on the lower difficulty levels. You also have to know how to use your weapons for the task you are given [you get Grenades, a Pistol, and 2 slots which can hold either a Sniper Rifle, an Explosive Bow, a Shotgun, Rifles, or a Laser Pointer that pinpoints a area of land for a big laser to hit it. You also have to manage your your three squad mates because they do help you out in several areas, the big problem with them is that if they die, you have to run out and revive them so you don't get overpowered. So basically, this is a more tactical shooter than most people would be used to, so you have to adjust to it relatively quickly if you want to survive.

The levels themselves are fun enough, sure there are a few stinkers like when you have to use the UV Turret to fight off the Kryll [basically, some bat like thing that hates light], and some boss fights that are way too easy [I'm looking at you Corpser], and there are some parts of the game that are just pure hell to complete on the tougher modes. But the Campaign is still fun enough to do, even though it is not the amazing revolutionary game that it was touted as.

Challenge: 9

One thing you should know before you start playing this game is that it is tough. As I said before, you need to learn to use cover right away or even the wimpy enemies will decimate you during the campaign, and you need to know how to fight some of the enemies [I.E. DON'T melee the Dark Wretches], and if you don't then you will not make it past the first chapter on the easiest difficulty. And, if you decide to bump up the difficulty then you will have to be really good at this game because that even some of the parts of the game on Casual can be tough to do, just imagine how tough it will be on the two higher modes.

The only thing I really have to say is be patient, even though this game is really tough to beat on the higher difficulties, it is not impossible. And if you keep screwing up at one part then learn what you are doing wrong and correct it, because that is exactly what I am doing now. I have just reccently beaten the game on Casual, and I am trying to beat the game again on Hardcore and Insane now, and it is damn hard to do.

Controls: 7

The controls did feel a little bit awkward to me at first because I was not used to playing games like this, but after I got the hang of it I did better. Aiming is easy enough [although I wish that blind firing had some kind of crosshair], the A and X buttons worked well enough as the "do everything" button, and using cover became almost a natural instinct after I got used to it.

Some people may find the controls to be overly complicated, but after a while you should be able to get used to it.

Graphics: 9

If there is one thing that Epic does well, it is churning out graphics that are leaps and bounds above most of what else is out there, much like Rare was doing when the released Donkey Kong Country for the SNES, and Conkers Bad Fur Day for the Nintendo 64, which were just a huge level above almost everything else on those consoles at the time.

I also believe that the graphics were the most hyped thing about this game, since it was the first real proof for me of just what these new systems could do when I saw the first pictures of this game in action.

Basically, you will be seeing some desolate war torn environments, which is a testament to the talent of a Developer when they can make crap look good. You will also see some gruesome monsters that belong to the Locust Horde, and the steroid pumping COG soldiers that are bigger than most Football players. You will also see some of the most gorgeous use of mapping effects that I have seen in a 360 game so far. There are also some absolutely gorgeous lighting effects, and some of the best looking blood showers I have ever seen, especially when you get to see it covering your screen.

So, as the last sentence said, there is a hell of a lot of blood in this game, so if you are squeamish do not play it. You can make blood pour out of the enemies, you can blow them up, or you can decapitate them with a Sniper Rifle which provides a grotesque look at all of the gunk leaking from their brains, and showing just what the 360 can do. Although things may be overly gorey at times, you should know by now if you played Epic's other games like Unreal you should know that they are known for spraying blood and body parts all over the walls of every room you enter in those games.

But all of this beauty does come at a price, at times the fancily mapped textures don't load right away so you basically see none of the things like the detail in Marcus' Armor during some of the cut-scenes and other moments during the gameplay. It is basically the same problem that Halo 2 had, but not as abundant, I also experienced this a few times in BioShock.

So, overall this section would of gotten a 10 if it wasn't for the problems I had with the textures loading, but it may just be the fact that my TV is a few years old, and by todays standards anything that does not have HD support is crap.

Sound: 10

As I said above, when you buy a game that the people at Epic made, it will certainly sound good.

Throughout the game there is plenty of voice acting for all of the main characters, and it is done superbly for almost all of them [although Cole Train does get annoying after a while]. In my mind the highlight of the voice actors in this game is John DiMaggio [or as I know him, Bender from one of my favorite shows "Futurama"] who provides the voice for Marcus Fenix. The background noises and sound effects that you will hear are good as well, from the sounds of birds in the sky, to the sound of a Wretch and its disgusting roar, and the sound of the chainsaw of a Lancer revving up and ripping a Drone in half are very well done.

But when I play Gears of War, the thing I noticed the most was the music. I loved the soundtrack for other games made by Epic that I have played like the Unreal Tournament games, but this game had a great soundtrack that felt like music you would hear in a very good War movie, and it fit wherever it was.

So overall, the dialog is great [mostly], the sound effects are great, and the music is great.

Multiplayer: 7

Gears of War has a decent Multiplayer mode, but I felt that it was not as fun as the older Unreal Tournament games.

First, is the different kinds of Multiplayer matches that have become standard, there are three different variations of Deathmatch where the only real difference I saw was that in one of them you have to kill a team leader, and in the other one you have to get up close to execute someone with a curb stomp [or any other execution move]. Then there is a King of the Hill which is self explanatory, and Annex which just moves the hill around.

These games are fun, but it is not as good as some of Epic's other games. There is also some lag and that can make it tougher to play since the party leader usually seems to be exempt from this.

As for doing the Campaign with a friend, all I'll say is that it is much better than playing it by yourself. And the tougher levels can be much easier with a friend than your AI partners.

Atmosphere: 7

As I have been saying, the voice acting is very well done and the levels are presented in a way that makes it feel like you are about to be swarmed by these monsters at any second. But the problems I had with the story knocked a few points off of the score. Although, other than that GoW works very well as a tactical shooter with a little bit of a horror element in it.

Replayability: 8

There is a Multiplayer mode, you can go through levels on Co-Op, or you can just hunt down the COG Tags to get the 60 gamerscore points that the achievements for doing so will give you. Everything that was provided should be enough until the sequel comes out.

Pros
Amazing graphics, great sound, challenging campaign, John DiMaggio.

Cons
Texture loading problems, Challenge can be too much for some people, not as "revolutonary" as it was said to be, undeveloped story, multiplayer does not live up to the old Unreal Tournament games.

Should you get it:
Even though I had a few problems with how the story was presented, I would highly recommend getting this game to any 360 owners.

Overall:

Gears is one of the best games on the Xbox 360, but the only real problem is that it does seem like most of the work went into showing off the new Unreal III engine, and none of it went into telling the story that could of been told with what we were given as a backstory. But other than that there should be no real disappointments from Gears.

8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/14/08, Updated 05/28/08

Game Release: Gears of War (US, 11/07/06)


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