Review by wolverinefan

"The best 360 title thus far."

Gears of War is the reason I bought an Xbox 360. It looked awesome (graphic wise) and the fact that it was a third person shooter meant it was going to be more to my liking than a first person shooter. Well, Gears has arrived and the question is, does Gears of War meet its hype? Well, yes and no.

The story is Gears of War is perhaps the weakest part of this nearly perfect package. Your name is Marcus Felix and you have been in prison for a while. These monsters of sorts have attacked the Earth. Creating tunnels underground and there is no longer any rule to the land as its being torn apart. You're recruited to help this military group to figure out the layout of the tunnel network. That's pretty much the entire story in a nutshell. A few pieces of the story has been forgotten by me and I'm not 100% on the whole military aspect of it all but it's a brief rundown of what the plot does offer, which isn't a whole lot. The game does offer times where some character development could kick in but fails to do so at every opportunity.

Graphic wise Gears of Wars is the best looking console game to date. Highly detailed and super crisp graphics. None of that slightly blurred crap that some of those other "great" looking games try to pull off. The character models are highly detailed and while the enemies looking awesome, they truly lack in variety. The level design, while linear, is breath taking at times. The first level was jaw droopingly gorgeous and while rest of the levels don't stack up in terms of detail, the final act on the train looks amazing with the color pallet that is being used and it's almost like you're playing a CGI scene.

Gears has an amazing soundtrack. The music swells with the action and easily creates the perfect mood in the game. The annoying thing is that again, the first act has the perfect music score and while rest of it isn't bad, it's actually really good, it isn't as good as what the first act had to offer. Voice acting has a slight hint of B movie quality to it but it fits well, we are facing giant alien like mutant things on Earth. Sound effects are good. I loved the growls and stuff from the enemy, Listening to them allowed me to figure out how they were going to attack and the weapons sounds different so by the time the advanced guys start to attack you learn what their rockets sound like, making it easier to dodge them.

Gears offers a simple control set up. L allows you to aim, R is shoot. The d-pad switches between weapons and A seems to pretty much do everything else. R Nub is what you use to do the reload thing and trust me; you want to get the hang of it. I think I got into Act 3 before I realized I could do a quick reload. The control is simple and smooth though. I never found myself hitting the wrong button or wondering what a certain button does.

If you're expecting a normal run and gun third person shooter then you better rethink this game. The idea behind Gears of Wars game play is to take cover and attack that way. I tried the run and gun thing and got blown away by the first few enemies. The interesting thing is how easy it is to adapt to this game play style. I found myself always surveying my surroundings, looking for the best advantage points and watching where the enemies were pouring from.

The game allows you to carry three weapons at a time and grenades of sorts. Super easy to switch weapons on the fly it's just the weapons aren't overly interesting. I found the machine gun was my best bet 90% of the time and something was always near by that fixed any other problems. Some bosses require specific weapons or ways of attacking but it doesn't take too long to figure it out. While I think the last boss was the hardest, he isn't that hard once you figure out how to get rid of his shield, which was what kept causing my many deaths against him.

The game is split into 5 acts. Some are short (Act 5) while some are very long (Act 2). The rest of the Acts are average length and I think the entire game took me about 5 1/2 hours to beat. The locations all feel different so it keeps the game from feeling dull and there is even a driving portion in one act and while I didn't care for it (very linear) it controls a million times better than anything in the Halo games.

So, it's a short game but what else does the game offer to warrant that $60 price tag? Well, it offers 3 difficulty settings, two of which are open from the start. There are 30 COGS hidden in the game. The game offers actual achievements that are overly far fetched and make it feel like you're earning them by actually doing stuff in the game. That being said I must say the biggest draw to the game is its online play. I get bored easily with first person shooters online. It just feels dumb. However, I logged online for Emergence Day for this game and I don't think I've ever had this much fun playing an online game since Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast. Team work is your friend in the team based missions and the mic is very helpful. The game also offers 2 more online modes but I didn't get around to those. I just really enjoyed the online play. From it's simple to navigate menus to the friendly user base I ran into I had no problems with lag or anything.

Is Gears of War worth it all? Yes, I think it is but don't pay that $60 price tag. I got mine on release for $40 shipped online and I just can't figure out why anyone pays $60 for a game. The only game I paid that much for is the LE of Final Fantasy XII. Anyway, Gears offers a solid yet short single player and very user friendly online environment. Those two things together make this worth a purchase for under $50 and it's a great rental.

Story - 5/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 9/10
Control - 9/10
Game Play - 9/10
Replay Value - 10/10

Final Score - 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/22/06

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