Review by Exodist
A good action game, but not the best
Ahhh, Gears of War. The most hyped game for the 360 last Christmas, just like many other games for other consoles. The good thing about Gears of War though, is that it delivers. GoW is a great action game, with a nice multiplayer added on, GoW is certain to please any action game fan.
The story is fairly simple and one of the weaker points of GoW. You play as a soldier, Marcus Fenix, who was wrongly accused to betraying fellow man. He is locked up. The game starts 14 years after E-Day, where Marcus is saved by a fellow soldier. The earth has been taken other by creatures, known as the Locusts, which have dug tunnels through earth and practically own the land. You're sent to try and end this war by finding everything about the tunnels, and blowing them up. You get a few party members, but story isn't developed with them, you get a couple of mentions of their past sometimes, but apart from that, they just have their personality and that's it.
The gameplay is rather simple, yet fun. You basically run through linear levels, before getting stopped at one place, you fight off the enemies, and you continue. That's pretty much it for the whole game. The devs have made a superb job of making it fun though. There aren't any puzzles to distract you (although in cases of Resi 4, they're a nice addition), nor are there any parts you will be lost, it's very rare there is a split path, and most of the time, you can choose which to follow. Going through the game, you're followed by 3 team members, sometimes you're split up, but you're always with at least one member. Soon enough, you get stuck with 3 members which will be with you for the rest of the game. The good thing about these allies though, is that they actually help you. They don't stand around getting shot, they fight too. They will also use cover etc, and although they aren't the brightest bunch, they certainly help.
The controls of the game are rather simple, and heavily influenced from Resident Evil 4. By pressing the Left Trigger, you can start to aim your weapon, with a small crosshair to where it fires. Then, R will shot. You can change your weapon with the Directional Pad, and then move around with the Left Analog stick, and A will be your sort of command button. The controls work well, and the camera is decent enough, and very similar to the Resi 4 camera. The controls are very responsive also, and are just a button press away. Also added to this game are action reloads. When you press the reload button, a little meter appears under the gun ammo. Here, if you press the button again in a certain area, you can reload instantly. If you miss it, your gun cocks up and it takes even longer to reload. It's a gamble, and the more you use it, the smaller the meter gets, and the faster it goes (although after fights it usually resets). The more you do use it though, the better you become so it doesn't become much of a problem.
The guns in GoW aren't plentiful. You can only hold 3 at a time, so picking up guns you don't have to replace those without ammo is a must. The main weapon is the Lancer, which is like a normal rifle, but with a chainsaw on the bottom. Whilst it can be pretty pleasing to cut the enemy in half, it's very hard to use (well, I thought it was) against the enemies in single player. There are also a few pistols, and of course, other classic weapons like a sniper rifle, shotgun etc. There is also the Hammer of Dawn, which, provided you're under a sky with a satellite above, it will send down a massive laser down on you're target. It's very satisfying in a strange way, but fun none the less.
Gears of War does add something new though. Unless you're very skilled, it's very hard to play through this game running in with guns blazing. Instead, you must use cover. By pressing A near a wall, you can dive to it, and hide behind it. You can blind fire, although that isn't very useful. When you think the enemy might be reloading, you can quickly pop up, aim, fire, and duck again. Cover is an important aspect in GoW, and fortunately, it works well.
There is also a driving part on GoW. This isn't too good however, and whilst it's different, it lets the game down slightly. You must drive along a destroyed highway, but unfortunately, you're being chased by the Kryll. These are bat like creatures, which literally destroy anything in the dark, when it's night time. You will get attacked, and have to shine a massive light on them to burn them up. However, you can do one thing at a time: Drive, or use the light. It's all very tedious and probably lets the game down slightly. The only other closest part to this is when you're inside small carts. It's slightly similar to the mine cart part in Resi 4. You're going along this small cart whilst being attacked from all directions. There are a couple of fun, memorable parts like this in the game, which helps make it even more fun and unique.
The whole game isn't very long, unfortunately. There are 5 acts, with a few levels in each. Each Act has a very different location for you to visit though, so the levels and environments never get boring. The whole game doesn't take too long, about 5 hours and you're done, which, is pretty poor to be honest. There are a couple of achievements you might want to try and get though, you get them for beating the game on each difficulty, or beating two bosses on normal (yet no achievement for beating them on hard), and collecting, yes, collecting (like you do in many other 360 games due to achievements), Cog Tags. There are 30 in the game, and some are hidden well, whilst others are not. There is usually a red skull in a gear painted on the wall or something when one is nearby though. There are also a lot of achievements for online too, based on kills, and kills with different weapons etc. Unfortunately, I was unable to play online, due to me not having Xbox Live at the time of having the game (I don't have it at time of writing either, but im nearly there...).
Simply put, the graphics are completely amazing. They are without a doubt the best any console has seen. Character models are detailed very well. Their skin is realistic, the lighting on them, their armour, their guns, heck, even their facial hair, all looks great. The levels them self are amazing too. Each act offers a very different location so you never get bored (although Act 4 is a little repetitive), with some amazing effects. The lighting is again, brilliant, and so is the attention to detail. There aren't many blurred textures, if at all. There is also loads of other little detail, like when some water dropped onto my character, it stopped on him and splashed off. It's this small detail that makes you really appreciate the effort put into the game. The cut-scenes are also done very well. Characters move realistically, and the overall colour pallet used helps show the whole mood of the game. Expressions are done well on different characters too. The physics in the game, although not used much, are also good.
The music is very well done in GoW. The music can be slightly dark at times, although it's usually to suit that part of the game. The music helps the mood of the game, and before battles, you can tell by the music there is one coming. The actual music in battle is very dramatic, and fits in perfectly. The sound effects are rather good too. The guns, the explosions, the enemies, are all very well done. The voice acting is very good for the game too. Characters speak with some emotion, and spoke very well. The whole emotion of the characters help show they're stuck in this war, and want to get it over with. Battle cries are also good, you can hear them scream in pain, and call for help, and also swear at the dead enemies, it's all great.
A nice, fast paced action filled campaign.
Very short game.
Not much for those without Live.
Game Play: 9.0/10
Life Span: 5.0/10
Multiplayer: (score not available due to not being able to test this)
My Two Pence:
Overall, GoW is an amazing action game. Whilst it isn't the best one ever, it's still incredibly fun to play, even with it's short campaign. Action fans will definitely want to check this out, as will any one with a 360, this is an essential purchase.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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