Review by kennyslaya

"One of the best games of the decade, and a pure classic!"

I first got a 360 on October 20 2006. It was pretty exciting since I wanted one for a while. I got the Pro bundle that got Arcade Unplugged and GRAW as two games. On top of that, my brother also got Oblivion. I played mainly GRAW and Oblivion for a few weeks. I once thought to myself “These are the best two games I played yet.” GRAW was a slick shooter that was photorealistic at the time, had slick future warfare gunplay, and had a deep multiplayer compartment. Oblivion on the other hand, was my first RPG. And although I didn't really know too much of what I was doing the 1st time I had the game, I still found the game really open. It had one of the biggest and most beautiful environments I've ever seen in a video-game, and the gameplay was really versatile: Create any character you want, be whatever you want to become, and associate yourself with whatever groups you wish.

I would always remember those two games as instant classics. Then, a few days before the game came out, I heard of much hype for the game Gears Of War, so when it came out, I decided to buy it because the demos and the commercial for the game looked really good. Boy, was it one of the best games that I ever played!

In the campaign, you play Marcus Fenix, a former left-for-dead soldier in prison for defying orders. When the nightmarish Locust Horde attack the planet Sera, your old buddy Dom rescues you from prison, and helps you gear up to fight the menace that is forcing humanity into extinction. The story is pretty much straightforward: You and the COG squad are trying to survive the Locust Horde as humanity's last line of defense. The main objectives you aim to complete are pretty simple. In the beginning, you are drafted into Delta squad, and are searching for alpha squad, which has the tool - the resonator - to map the Locust tunnels below Sera. As you progress, you complete various objectives in getting one step closer to completing the ultimate goal: to wipe out the Locust.

What lacks for things like character development, length and story depth, the campaign excels pretty well in almost all other standard fare. This game has: varied enemies, a good variety of urban and underground environments, entertaining boss battles, great characters, a vehicle mission, and “some” variety in completing levels. Above all, the firefights are fun, simple but really fun. It's the reason why I've played the campaign for over 4 times, along with Insane Mode completion. Casual is fun for just running through the campaign, while Insane will give you the fun and frustrating challenge. That's when a friend may want to come in…thanks to the fun and simple co-op play!

The FIRST thing that wowed me about this game besides the lancer was the stunning graphics. I loved the beauty of GRAW and Oblivion, but this game made me drool! Despite having an SDTV at the time, the Unreal Engine really impressed me! Great textures, awesome lighting, and at some parts a great sense of colour, blood specifically. This game had me shaking because the gore was just so visceral! One flaw about the graphics - like the games that followed - is the pop-up of textures. But, that was a small gripe, and the graphics truly made up for it.

Having an HDTV like I do now makes a BIG difference. Everything has more textures and more colour. In all, Gears Of War set the standard for HD gaming really high in 2006, and in 2009, it still sets the standard. No wonder so many companies use the engine for their games!

SOUND: 4.9/5
The reason I think this game's sound is near-perfect because there is absolutely nothing bad about it. The orchestrated pieces fit well into the firefights, and help the moments become more memorable. The weapons sound distinct, and the lancer's bayonet actually sound like a chainsaw, because the work to make it sound like one was done well. The game's biggest strength are the voiceovers. Each of the human characters have a unique voice that makes all of them believable. The Locust voiceovers are also well done. You can really tell what a boomer sounds when they pronounce their shots with a low-pitch “BOOM!”, or you can tell if Carmine is roadie-running when he's having an asthma attack under his helmet. But my personal favourite are al the punch lines and one-liners. The first time I played this, I laughed at almost all of Cole's one-liners, Baird's sarcastic remarks, and all the funny name calling. I still find it funny after multiple times. They are the kind of punch-lines that you can recite to your friends and have a good laugh!

Gears Of War's gameplay is top-notch. The game borrows a few things from the playbooks of other games, but there are many unique mechanics that make Gears' gameplay stand out on it's own. Controls are very simple, and help make the game a nice and fluid experience. The all-purpose A button works like a charm, acting as a cover button, run button, and as an evasion button. The active reload was very revolutionary for it's time, and still stands as the best reload mechanic out there. As for everything else like the life mechanic and the fluidity, it is executed well.

Along with great-controlling gameplay, there is a lot of variety. When I mean this, I mean the enemies and the weapons. There are many kinds of enemies that force you to quick fast and pull out the best weapon of choice. Good thing there are a nice variety of weapons to take down locust. There is a good sense of balance in the weapons because they all prove to be useful. Though most guns are fun to use and unique in their own right, nothing beats the lancer. NOTHING, beats the lancer….vroom!!!

VERSUS: 4.6/5
Gears' multiplayer is very enjoyable for hours on end. All the maps in Gears are all fun to play in, and have great structure and weapon placement. No two maps look the same, and some have special features about it, which makes al the maps unique. Game modes are enough to have you play for a long time. The four game modes make for a varied experience. Also, getting into a game is as simple as joining a match, picking a side, and wait until the match starts.

Gears' versus mode isn't perfect. Sure, there's lag, but then what game doesn't. Also, the community is less than stellar. Most people are tolerable, but some are just there to ruin your fun. Those people will glitch, trash talk for no reason, hog weapons, be unfair or quit out of the match. Still, it's an intangible part of the game, and it shouldn't mar this game from still having great multiplayer!

Gears Of War has a great achievement list that balances out between the confidence-boosting ones and the ones that need dedication. Many of them have names that are cool, funny or that are neat references. “Seriously…”, an achievement for getting 10 000 kills in ranked matches, is one of the most legendary achievements to attain out of all Xbox 360 games. It's not impossible, because all it takes are time, dedication and skill to get Seriously, and all the rest. Makes for a whole lot of replay value!

Gears was the killer app. of 2006, and stands as one of the greatest games of the 360, and possibly all time. For me, the game and the series will always stay in my heart. This game wowed me from start to finish, and way beyond with online play. Gears also made me lose my XBOX LIVE virginity, and what a way to do so! After playing this game for countless hours and then some, I see why this game in an instant classic in my book! I think this game, along with Oblivion and GRAW, were the closest games to perfection, for 2006!

Single Player & Co-op: 4.5
Graphics: 5
Sound: 4.9
Gameplay: 4.9
Versus: 4.6
Achievements: 4.8

= 10/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/12/09

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

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