Review by MC_Hamer

Reviewed: 11/28/06

Dead, all dead, that's what I like to see.

Ever since the public got its first glimpse of Gears of War, it was in awe. The game looked so real, as if you could touch it and suddenly, an arm would reach out and grab you. People questioned the graphics, claiming the Xbox 360 wasn't capable of such efforts. They went as far as saying those were all pre-rendered movies. (Yet they backed up Killzone as real-time, lol). Their main offense strategy was the claim that since those Xbox 360 demo kits were only at around 30% the full extent, the videos couldn't be real.

Soon, more videos of Gears began to surface proving, once and for all, the game was not pre-rendered. However, there was a problem. The demo kits were still not running at full power and the game wasn't running at smooth 30 FPS. It would dip slightly when action began to heat up. Many Sony fanboys took this as their claim to fame that it is proof nothing can look that good and be on the Xbox 360.

Well, guess what Sony fans? It runs smoother than silk...and looks even better.

Don't let anyone fool you into thinking this game ever slows down. It doesn't. The only instance I've ever encountered with framerate loss was during a multiplayer match where the host had a horrid connection. Single-player runs like butter and the graphics bring forth such a realistic environment that the developers coined the term, "Destroyed Beauty" to express the scenery. Now, to the review.

Graphics: 10/10
This is definitely Gears of Wars true claim to fame. Using the almighty Unreal Engine 3, the developers at Epic created a game like nothing else on the market. The graphics in this game are the absolute best out there, easily kicking the Playstation 3's launch line-up in the balls, several times over.

I played this game in 720p on my 32'' LCD HDTV. When I was walking around the first level, I thought I was watching a movie. Walking around the streets of the war torn city, you can almost imagine what kind of Hell it has been through. The place is a mess with torn buildings lining the empty streets of Sera. When the developers said this planet saw many years of war, you can easily believe it. The scenery blends with the sound direction that creates a theatrical experience unheard of last generation. From the moment you open a door and Kyrll fly at you, to your first Locust experience, you feel like you are watching the next best horror flick.

This is truly the next-generation game.

Gameplay: 9/10
When Cliffy B said he was inspired by Resident Evil 4, he wasn't kidding. The over-the-shoulder perspective is ever present in Gears of War and it only adds to the immersion factor. With a simple to use, context sensitive A button (a la Resi 4), taking cover, switching from cover, or "Roadie Running" is one buttons press (or hold) away.

The way cover works in this game is like this. If you see something, more likely than not, you can put your back to it. From there, you control the view point of the main protagonist, Marcus Fenix, with the movement of the Right Stick. Using the Right Stick to aim, you can simply press the Right Trigger to begin "blind firing", which is based off of a similar attack in the game Kill.Switch. Another alternative is to hold the Left Trigger which will have your character peek out from cover and take aim. This mode has a much higher accuracy but puts you in danger.

Besides the attacking modes, you can do other things from cover. For example, if you were taking cover behind a couch and saw a better cover opportunity in the form of a nearby pillar, you can simply move the Left Stick in the direction of the pillar and press A. This has Fenix doing a move where he will quickly roll from one cover to the other. Also, if you press forward on the Left Stick and press A, Fenix will move from cover quickly forward which reduces how long you can be exposed to enemy fire.

Out in the open, you have three choices of movement. First method is the simple walking. This is slow and somewhat tedious. Second method is to move in the direction you wish to go and press A. This will cause Marcus to roll in that direction. This is slightly faster but still somewhat tedious. The final, and fastest, is the "Roadie Run". But walking in a direction and holding the A button, the camera pulls out and lowers while Fenix crouches forward and runs. The camera dragging behind will bobble up and down, side to side, as if it were another person following him. The Roadie Run is definitely a small add-on that truly immerses you in the world.

The reason behind the 9 and not a 10 is simple. The context sensitive button is somewhat too sensitive. This is especially apparent in multiplayer. When an enemy is attacking you and you want to run, you may press A to roll out of the way. However, if you are too close to cover, you will instead attach yourself to the cover which creates a momentary delay giving your enemy the upper hand. However, this is only a minor problem that really isn't too bad.

Epic is renowned for their gory games. Gears of War takes the bloody, blown-apart cake. Body parts won't stay on the character should something fatal occur. And it seems any part of the body is like a tap for blood to start spurting out like a geyser. The goriest moments occur when you use grenades, Boom shot, Torque Bow, chainsaw, sniper rifle, or the curb stomp.

The grenades, Torque Bow, and Boom shot are high explosive weapons. If you get hit by either, you will blow apart. I don't mean a limb here and there. I mean you will lose your head, your torso will rip open, guts all over the place, and more blood then a blood bank. (horrible comparison, who cares)

The chainsaw will tear you up. It is one of the most satisfying kills any game can offer. You may find yourself doing this over, and over, and over, et cetera.

The sniper and curb stomp will do a simple be-heading. One of the less gory kills, they are still satisfying, nonetheless.

Story: 5/10
There really isn't much to say about the story. It is there, but isn't presented well.

You are told that a massive war erupted years ago after countries found an immense power source. However, not all nations had equal rights to it so they would attack each other for it. Over time, and from much digging into the planet, the Locust horde erupted from the ground and began a large attack on the land dwellers that destroyed a third of the population.

The military leaders didn't want the Locust to control their bases so they used giant orbiting lasers to destroy their cities. However, most of the planet is now a wasteland. The only place on the planet the Locust couldn't reach is one city which has a foundation of granite, thousands of miles thick. The Locust can only emerge in the city from small fissures created by the drilling around the area.

Marcus Fenix is a veteran from the Pendulum Wars (the war for the power source, Imulsion). He was thrown in jail after abandoning his military post to save his father from the Locust invasion. However, his father was already dead when he got there. He received a botched trial and was jailed. He was later released 14 years after the Locust attacked. And there is where you start the game.

Single Player: 10/10
This Single Player is very satisfying. It is of decent length but I dare you to play it only once. However, the thing that really makes it shine is the co-op, split-screen or online. The reason I bring this up here and not in the Multiplayer section is because you can play co-op start to finish in the main story. From the moment you start the first level you can have a buddy right there.

It is definitely the most satisfying co-op out there today (I can't say anything about Rainbow Six because I haven't played it yet). The SP (and co-op) follows the path of Marcus and his friend, Dom, through five Acts as they attempt to overthrow the Locust invaders. You'll be jumping between various locales such as a city, an abandoned mining facility, a mansion, and the underground caverns of the Locust.

Multiplayer: 10/10
This is easily the most addicting multiplayer out there for the Xbox 360. Ranging from three different game-types and several different maps, you play as either a COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments *the humans*) or a Locust fireteam. Each side has four people and you are given the option to choose a multiplayer skin for either the COG or the Locust.

The first gametype is Warzone. This is your simple Team Slayer. Your objective is to kill and not be killed.

The next gametype is Assassination. This is where one person on each team is designated Team Leader (either Col. Hoffman for the COG, or General RAAM for the Locust). During the match, should one side have their TL killed, they lose the round. After each round, the person with the most kills is the TL.

The final gametype is Execution. This is very similar to Warzone, except for one thing. You have to kill your enemy with a move known as execution. This involves either: Headshot, chainsaw kill, shotgun kill, grenade kill, Boom/Torque kill, or curb stop. You cannot kill them just by firing at them with the assault rifle.

Sound: 11/10
An eleven? How is that possible? Simple. This sound in this game is phenomenal. Unlike any game out there today or before hand.

If nothing else draws you into this game, the music will. Listening to this game on Surround Sound makes you feel in there with the characters. When you see the lightning flash and hear the thunder, you'll jump. Your first encounter with the Wretches will have you holding your ears. Not to mention the chatter that goes on between the human and Locust forces. They will talk to each other letting each other know what they are doing or where the enemy is.

There are few words I can use to describe the sound in this game. It is just so dramatic. It makes most movies look like cheap, home-movies.

Re-playability: 9/10
You are definitely going to want to run through the single player a few times. There are several achievements for beating the game on different difficulty levels, playing as Dom, or finding COG tags throughout the world. There are even achievements for such things as killing 3 Locust at once, 10 different times.

It would be hard to only play through it once, especially how fun the experience can be with a friend. This is how co-op should be.

Besides the single player, you'll find yourself wanting to play the multiplayer over and over and over and over again. It is extremely fun and addicting, easily topping Halo 2 (for now at least).

Buy or Rent:
Now it is the end all be all. Should you buy it, or should you rent it?

Well, it depends. Do you like games with a movie-like experience, true next-gen graphics, or chainsawing people? If you said yes to any of those, this is a buy.

Hell, even if you don't care for chainsaws or aren't a gr4f1X whore, this game is a near perfect blend of horror, action, and dramatic presentation that should appeal to almost anyone.

However, it should be known that this is not a kid friendly game. It swears more than a Tenacious D song and has so much blood and guts it makes movies like Saw and Hostel look like emo cutting parties.

In the end, Epic came, saw, and conquered with a game truly worthy of next-gen status. The Unreal Engine 3 is a real work of art that even Sony fanboys can agree on. I end this review with simple words.

When you see your enemy staring you in the face...chainsaw him.

With the powers invested in me by the gaming message board of GameFAQs...
I give this game a 10/10.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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