Review by Galactus21

Reviewed: 11/27/06

Then there were chainsaws...

TQMIs a philosophy that a company is committed to quality in all areas of an organization and will promote a qualitative culture that meets its customers’ perceptions of quality.

Back around the 70s, the infamous Ford Motor Company decided on a business strategy that gave them an atrocious brand equity. Their philosophy was to offer a broken product, so consumers would come back quickly due to the numerous defects. This can be said about numerous American firms. Then one day came along a company by the name of Toyota who brought with them their philosophy of total quality management and simply took America by storm and handed American automakers their butts. American companies took a while to adopt the TQM philosophy, and the remnants of their brand equity fallout gave their Japanese competitors a competitive advantage.

The gap has been closed for a while now, but many still consider Japanese products to be superior. In the case of video games that statement may also hold true, as Microsoft’s Xbox was the forefront of numerous message board hate. Say no more, because Gears of War single handedly erases any thought of bad brand equity. Gears of War is by definition the very core of a company that utilized the TQM philosophy. Gears of War is simply so immersive, so breathtaking, so intense, and utterly so refined that anyone who even takes a glimpse at the game should be amazed beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Emergence Day

Billions of humans lived in peace, when all of a sudden a group of aliens called the Locusts came storming from underneath and laid waste to the populace. When it was all said and done, humanities’ cities and monuments were left in ruins. The population was devastated. The COGS are a bunch of overgrown, muscular men who are hell bent on retaking the planet and winning the war. You take control of Marcus, who is a mentally tough soldier who just got busted out of jail. As Marcus you will lead a squad of soldiers in tactical combat.

This is Gears…And it rocks…

Being a third person shooter, Epic strayed away from the typical first person shooter that the Xbox systems are known for. Make no mistake about it though, as the gun fights are as intense as ever. There have been many third person games that does not utilize a good camera system. Luckily for Gears of War this is not an issue. In fact, the camera does such a good job at recognizing the situation and adapting, you don’t even think about how wonderful it is because you aren’t busy worrying about it. Even when it gets out of place, the right analog stick allows for easy shifting of the camera.

The single player campaign consists of 3 difficulties - Casual being the easiest, hardcore being the mid-level, and insane being just that. The campaign should take anywhere between 8-12 hours depending on what difficulty you plan to play it on. Gears’ single player campaign is already a feat in itself, but the online coop adds a lot to the table. As it stands, this is one of the most intense, action pack, and breathtaking third person action experiences I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Whether it’s playing by yourself through the campaign or logging online to play through the five different acts, Gears is simply so much fun that it’s a breathtaking experience either way.

As you ramp up the difficulty, the A.I becomes more aggressive. This is a given. For Gears however, the A.I begins to not only be more aggressive as the difficulty rises, but the A.I does a great job at strategizing also. Playing through a few of the acts on hardcore through Xbox Live coop gave me the impression of the type of superb A.I that Gears has. Even with a teammate where we can communicate and plan out our attack, we would still find ourselves in trouble numerous times. Enemies usually do a good job and taking cover and using suppression fire as other locusts tries to outflank your squad.

Let me rip you in half with my chainsaw!

In Gears there are a plethora of weapons. Each one has its own unique properties. Not to mention the type of guns add to the overall experience of the game. Some of the more unique guns include the hammer of dawn, which requires the player to be outside and with the satellite in place. By holding down the left trigger to aim and the right to lock on, it unleashes a powerful stream of energy that comes from the sky. The weapon is very powerful; therefore, the satellite is only in position for certain periods in the game to limit players from over abusing the weapon. The other much talked about weapon is the chainsaw that acts as a bayonet on your gun. By holding down the B button, you can rev up the chainsaw and cut right through your enemy. The beautiful sight of flesh being split in half, with blood splattering all over your screen is rewarding in itself.

Gears of War isn’t your typical run and gun type game. If you try to do that, you will get blown apart. There will always be cover spots like concrete slabs or busted old cars for you to hide behind whenever you are about to engage the locusts. What makes this extremely interesting is the amount of strategy that is required. As your squad engages the enemy, you can always work to outflank your opponent or advance your position. What makes this important is the amount of movement that locusts make. You will have to advance position in order to succeed. What makes Gears of War such an astonishing game is the amount of polish that the game has. More importantly, the game’s battles are as intense as any game out on any system. There is never a dull moment in Gears.

With so much action going on at once, evading and flanking is an essential tool. Gears truly perfect a tactical third person shooter to its max. By utilizing a nearly flawless cover system that requires the player to take advantage of its surroundings, the game’s ultimate task of fulfilling a genre with many flaws has been accomplished. The aiming system also works wonders. Some may have complained that the third person view might make it hard to aim, but the camera is set to a point that allows the player to easily aim. By utilizing the left and right trigger allows for one fluid motion that allows the player to battle the vast amount of enemies rather than battling the controls. As you pop out of cover by aiming with the left button, you then follow it by shooting with the right trigger. The amount of weaponry also adds to the experience. There are a nice variety of close range and long range weapons. The chainsaw simply cannot be mentioned enough, as it gives you such an impressive tool once you can close the distance on your enemies. This makes flanking so important, because if you can get in close to an unsuspecting enemy, you can tear its body in half.

There are several modes to play online. Warzone is your typical team battle, where you have to annihilate everyone on the other team to achieve victory. Assassination requires you to eliminate a team leader. Once the team leader dies, the squad loses that round. Then you have execution, where curb stomping and flesh ripping chainsaw skills are emphasized. There are a maximum of 8 players. At first, I felt there weren’t enough players to make the online portion fun, but since the maps are fairly small and condensed, it still makes for an intense and competitive match. Matches usually end quickly due to the small maps. It gives the online experience a quick and frantic pace. You can also hop online to play coop, which is one of the game’s strong suits. Playing coop allows you to strategize with a human player. Playing through some of the harder difficulties with a human player makes the game more strategic.

The musical soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. With intense beats every time a berserker pops up, or the riveting tune displayed when a major battle occurs. The voice acting is pretty stellar also. With COGS having the rough and tough voice, the voiceovers were able to portray the characters ever so closely. The voice acting was so nicely done that the detail in every sound was quite apparent. When you are under fire, the voice stresses the situation at hand. The sound is so lifelike that it adds to the game’s already immersive atmosphere. Each trickle of rain drop to the hardcore chainsaw revving up, Gears displays amazing sound. Not to mention the pounding gun fire, as you let your weaponry rip. Then you will have moments where the very scream of the berserker will send chills down your spine.

Running your chainsaw right through the enemy and watching blood splatter all over the screen is one of the best sights in video games. GOW’s fantastic attention to detail makes every riveting and gory effect come to life. The animation of watching someone get cut in half is simply amazing. The physics engine also works wonders. When a player shoots the enemy in the legs, they’ll eventually keel over, and the player can go in with a gruesome curb stomp. The environment is simply amazing. With textures that show why the Xbox 360 is a fully capable next generation system. The amount of polish on the animation and character models should be duly noted also. Gears is easily the best looking game on the 360. It easily outclasses every other game thus far in the graphics department

Gears of War is bar none the best Xbox 360 game

Without a shadow of a doubt, Gears is simply the best game on the Xbox 360 to date. With graphics that will make you jump out of your seat, heart felt music, and bone crushing action, it’s simply the game to pick up this fall. If you love a game that is full of action, then this is a dream come true. The game play mechanics is extremely polished, with plenty of ways to dispose of enemies. Just about over a year into the 360’s lifespan has seen many good games on it, but Gears has surpassed them all. The hype has been met, which doesn’t happen with most games. You’d have to be insane to not pick this game up. In fact, this game is worth getting a 360 by itself.

Emergence day dame and gone. The lasting effect will last for a long, long time.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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