Review by Baylonde

"Gears of War: Loads of Fun"

Gears of War. Highly anticipated, it's finally here, let's cut to the chase. The game puts you in the heavily armored boots of Marcus Fenix, who is apparently a traitor of some kind sentenced to fourty years in the slammer. He gets busted out twenty six years early to help the humans on the planet Sera fight an enemy called the Locust, named so because they killed a lot of people like locusts kill crops and stuff I guess. So you start out in the prison and you've got a three round burst Locust gun thing. From where you start, you can choose to go left for combat or right for training. Doesn't really matter which you choose, it ends up in the same place. I'll pick up here later.

Now, graphics in this game are superb. I know it's a 360 game and the 360 has some good graphics, blah blah blah, but still... the stuff this game does and the framerate it does it at blows me away. Whether it's four enemies exploding in a shower of gore and body parts before falling back into the hole that they came from in a lit street or trying to sneak by a berserker in a humid greenhouse, this game renders it all wonderfully at a constant 30(maybe 60, I dunno) FPS. All the cutscenes use the in game graphics as well, but that's about the only time the frame right drops slightly. It's barely noticable, nothing to really complain about.

The sounds are nice too. Every weapon sounds different, as is expected from a 2006 shooter game, but you can really tell what the enemy is using when they fire at you. A Lancer, which is the standard assault rifle given to COG(Coalition of Organized Governments) soldiers is much, much different than a Locust assault rifle thingy. I dunno the name of that. Now the Lancer is a very nice weapon. It holds a maximum of 660 shots with 60 rounds per clip, and to top it all off it has a chainsaw for a bayonet. Smexy. The game also has an "active reload" system, which basically you press the right bumper and you'll begin to reload, and then there's a bright small bar and a longer less bright bar, and if you press the right bumper again over the bright part you'll reload pretty much instantly and get a short damage boost. Hitting it on the darker part means you'll reload quicker, but no damage boost. If you don't hit it at all you'll reload normally, but if you press it when it's not over anything Marcus will swear the gun jams or something, and it takes longer to reload than normal.

Hokay, so. After the first mission, which is basically get to da choppa, you start off in a ruined city place. Your objective is to locate Alpha Squad and get this resonater doodad they've got. The level starts off with you in cover, and under attack by three enemies. A friendly helicopter will come by, blast the Locust to bits and then head off, leaving you on your own. Cover, is very, very, very important in this game. The A button is mapped to anything having to even remotely do with keeping your dumb butt alive, whether it's slamming your back against the nearest thing that will block a bullet or causing you to dive out of the way of something. If held down, it makes you do a "roadie" run which makes you crouch and sprint. You're able to fire from cover without poking your cute little head out of it, but that's not very accurate so it's often better to press the left trigger to pop up and aim, then loose a few shots and get the hell back down. On normal difficulty(they call it hardcore to boost your self esteem when you beat it), you can take about a maximum of ten, maybe fifteen normal weapon shots before your *** is toast, then it's back to the last checkpoint. Turrets will literally blast your body from your legs in about eight shots, and two shotgun blasts means you'll be blown in half.

The chainsaw is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of Gears of War. You hold down the B button with the Lancer equipped and Marcus will rev up the chainsaw bayonet, complete with black smoke coming from it. If you're shot while holding the chainsaw bayonet at the ready, you'll drop it and have to restart, which prevents noobs in multiplayer just charging with the chainsaw or something stupid. But if you manage to get to the enemy, it's night time for them. Marcus will bring it down on their shoulder and blood begins to spray out as he carves his way through them, chopping them in half, innards and bones completely visible. The screen will become splattered with blood, which clears itself after it runs down the screen a little bit. If you play it right, you'll have many opportunities to use the chainsaw, and you can bet you'll take every single one.

Now, the squad system is pretty much my only beef with the game. The squad AI is smart sometimes, running from cover to cover before using their chainsaw or shotgun on the enemy and ending the fight quickly, but other times it's downright stupid and they'll sit there and take four rounds to the face before dropping to their hands and knees and calling for you to run over and revive them. Sometimes later on in the game they'll stop following you and not listen to orders to follow you or get stuck someplace, leaving you on your own until the next checkpoint. The game isn't terribly hard, but it gets difficult if you're really dumb and don't play it like it was meant to be played: Firing in small bursts from cover. If you run out and go lolrambo, enjoy getting blasted limb from limb.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/15/06

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