Review by BjsShadow

Reviewed: 02/05/07

One of the best games I have played

Gears of War is quite possibly the best game I have ever played. There are so many amazing features the game has to offer, and is makes itself unique to so many other adventure shooting games. When I heard the game was not going to be a 1st person shooter, it made me nervous about how the game-play was going to be. I thought this would be awkward, and cause the game to crumble in sales, and game-play. It actually didn’t disappoint me at all. To be honest I thought Gears of War was another game that everyone was building up hype for, but then would let me down horribly. I was never so wrong. The game’s graphics are beautiful, fun fast paced game-play, memorable and deadly designed characters, and a multi-player that I haven’t gotten sick of, and can’t get enough of. I haven’t really noticed any thing that would downgrade the game at all, besides a few minor glitches. Really, nothing at all. The game is spectacular, and deserves a 10/10, but just for the reader’s sake, I will go through the points of the game.

Story- 10/10
You are Marcus, a prisoner, veteran, war junkie. You will be broken out of prison which is over run by monsters, called Locusts, to help the humans with their struggle against the monstrous foes. As the story progresses you will assemble a team that will aid you in your battle. You will meet other characters that will either join you in your battle, or have nothing to do with the story at all, except maybe to borrow you a vehicle to mow down the mighty Locusts. There aren’t too many characters, besides that of your team, and the Locusts leaders. Which is a good thing, because it leaves less confusion of who is who, and names etc. As the battle progresses the General barks more and more orders at you, which you and your team must fulfill, because you find out, you are the back-up, and there will be no others to support you. You keep pushing further, and more bodies are piling up on both sides. The causalities increase, the fights become more intense, and monsters get stronger and harder to defeat. The bosses are difficult, but with proper technique can be dealt with easily. All the creatures in the game are unique and have their own way they react to you, and how they must be dealt with. Smaller locusts can be attacked with regular weapons, while the much larger or armored Locusts, must be destroyed with the Hammer of Dawn. The Hammer of Dawn is an interesting weapon, that was put in the game, which I will talk about in the Game-play section of the review. The bosses look both stunning and gruesome, and are very powerful, and will cause much chaos if not dealt with. No matter how much damage you do to the hordes of the Locusts, they keep coming out of what is called “Emergence Holes”, which are tunnels deep down within the ground. When one of the Emergence holes appear, hordes of enemy Locusts will burrow out of them. Many emergence holes can appear at once causing quite a huge gun battle, and may even risk the chance of flanking you and your team. After one of your battles, you stumble across a device that brings up a holographic map, which looks to be a map of the tunnels of emergence holes. After further inspection, that is confirmed, and you and your team must travel into the heart of the emergence holes, and find a way to destroy it. The story, and dialogue prove to be worthy of making into a movie. The cinematic, which are the in game graphics, are fun to watch and well put together. You can really tell the intensity, and seriousness of the situation. I will not spoil the ending, but the game leaves off with a promise of a second game, which should be well looked forward to.

Game-play- 9.5/10
I have never played a more fun game than Gears of War. Whether it be campaign, co-op, or versus multiplayer. I have already addressed a large portion of the campaign in the section of Story for the review. But I will also address co-op and multiplayer. First let’s start with the controls. Like I said, Gears of War is a 3rd person shooter, which means you can see the whole body of the character you are controlling. This may seem awkward at first, but as the game progresses, and you get used to it, you will see that this is quite beneficial. This is beneficial because it helps you see all of your surroundings, peep around corners, and obstacles, and even directs to points where huge actions are taking place, or even a fallen comrade is begging for help. The controls aren’t hard to learn at all, and were made for quick action gaming. Weapons can be easily equipped, and switched off with a quick press on a direction on the d-pad. You can only carry four weapons, on your character at a time. Two stronger, heavier weapons, your pistol, and your choice of either smoke or frag-grenades. Each weapon is unique, and requires a different skill in order to be used, all with melee attacks. Pistol and sniper rifles are for accuracy. Shotgun for the close ranged battles. The boom-shock for battles with many grouped enemies. Your assault riffle has an interesting attachment on it, the chainsaw bayonet. While with other weapons if you melee with them you either whip the enemy or butt them with the gun. However, with the chainsaw bayonet, you rev up the engine, and attack. Results are gory, entertaining results, which usually end in the screen being blooded, and limp body parts flying in every direction. This certainly is one of the more fruitful additions to Gears of War.
The campaign mode is fun, and can be tackled by yourself or with a friend split screen or online via Xbox Live. There isn’t really a difference between co-op mode and single player, besides the fact in co-op you have the eased conscience of knowing if you are dying- your team mate can help you to your feet. But what I like what they did with co-op is at points they force you and your teammate to split up, so you always can’t rely on them to save you. Which is unfortunate if you’re wounded, because you will not be able to revive, thus ending the mission for both you, and your friend. It certainly makes the game a bit more frustrating when you, yourself, are doing wonderful job, but your teammate lacks skill, and you get punished for it. The game has parts where it can be frustrating, and hard, but it’s quick paced and fun. If you get stuck on certain part where it seems too difficult, most likely you will succeed on the next couple tries. The A.I. is great, and takes cover behind wreckage and obstacles when you fire upon them, or may even advance or try to flank you when they feel they can. I have no complaint about how the computer acts and reacts. Like I said, bosses and stronger Locusts cannot be destroyed by your regular weapons. This means you will have to pick up an advanced weapon called the Hammer of Dawn. The Hammer of Dawn is a unique weapon which can only be used outside. When it is aimed at an enemy or an object, a beam of light comes from above out of a satellite, and instantly destroys anything it hits. It is a very powerful weapon, but takes a while to charge, and can only be used for a limited time. Used incorrectly can result in death of a teammate or even a suicide. The Hammer of Dawn does no good inside buildings, or when it is offline, meaning that the satellite is no longer in position. It also creates interesting game-play against Locusts who must destroyed by the Hammer. Such as the Berserker, who you will encounter within a building. The berserker is a creature that cannot see, and relies on it’s sound and smell to find it’s enemies. Unfortunately for you, you must destroy it with the Hammer, and at the same time lure it out of the building without it trampling you. This turns into a game of cat and mouse, and can be very tricky to do. Another cool feature I liked about the game, was the darkness. In Gears of War, during the story mode, you have to beware of the darkness, and stay in the light. Because if you do not stay in the light, you will be eaten alive. This goes for humans, and locusts alike. Anything that steps into the darkness, has only a few seconds to make it towards the light, or they will be mutilated. It added a fun twist to the game, and made it slightly more difficult, and required a lot of thinking, and searching for certain missions. It was quite humorous, when locusts charged forward to attack my team, only to be massacred by an unnoticeable enemy.
Now I’d like to take the time to address my favorite part of the game, the versus multiplayer. What I really like about this game, is team work and strategy is required to succeed. You can not play the lone soldier, because if you do, you will die. You will have to communicate, co-operate, and strategize with your squad to beat the other team. Also, you can not stand in the open and fire aimlessly hoping to kill the other players. You have to duck, shoot around obstacles, and sometimes be patient and wait for the right time to strike. The multiplayer maps are relatively small, but there are so many obstacles, and objects to use as cover and to your advantage, which can make the maps seem larger than they really are. There are different game modes in multiplayer such as War Zone, Execution, and Assassination. War Zone is simply kill everyone on the other team, anyway that you can. Assassination is where on each team, a leader is appointed most likely by their points they have acquired through the previous matches. In order to win you must assassinate the leader, once the leader is assassinated the match ends whether or not there are remaining players on the team. Execution is my favorite version of multiplayer. It plays a lot like War zone, except for when you down an enemy, you have to execute them. Which means you cannot pump them full of bullets, you have to stomp their head in, or due another sort of gory execution. As I mentioned before multiplayer requires a lot of strategy, and if you fail to co-operate with your teammates, you will fail. You have to try your best to help them when they are downed, and create plans to flank and attack the other team. It’s really a lot more complex than Halo’s multiplayer, and even though it lacks vehicles, it makes up for it in gruesome battles. I really like the fact if you are taking fire, you can jump from one cover to the other. It requires skill to play, but beginners will have fun, because the game is easy to learn. Unfortunately there are downfalls to multiplayer, such as numerous glitches which players seem to take advantage of, which can really make the game frustrating and unfair to other players. Another complaint I heard a lot by players over Xbox live, was the A button had too many functions. Which is true. It’s your run button, your roll button, your cover button, and also if you want to release hugging wall. Many times when you want to run, you may find yourself throwing yourself into the nearest wall, or rolling. One of my largest problems was when I was hugging a wall, I wanted to let go, instead found myself running down the wall. Another problem was players would often freeze, and not be able to move as an enemy advanced for the attack. But these were the only negatives I found in the game, which could not break the game. As a matter of a fact, they are too small to even hurt it slightly. The game was beautifully put together, and very fun to play.

Graphics- 10/10
Even though the characters looked miniature, they were heavenly detailed. You could see their muscles, layers of clothes, hair, scars, different textures, great shadow detail, and there were no flaws to the graphics. They were stunning, and I was impressed by the amount of detail they put both into the levels, backgrounds, and all players alike. Each character has their own signature look and details. The guns all looked different, and had a nice shine to them. No multiplayer map looked the same. When you shoot someone with a certain weapon, body parts fell off. They didn’t change to some abstract object, but an arm remained an arm- even more the character’s arm that was blown off. This was one of the bloodiest and most gruesome games I’ve seen, and it looked good.

Sound- 10/10
Gears of War had a nice little musical score, but it really didn’t interest me at all. Because I was more focused on the gun shots, explosions, and screams on the battlefield. Bullets in the distance sounded like gunshots in the distance, grenades sounded like they should, pistols sounded as they should, and as did every other weapon. Each character, including Locusts, had their own voice, noise, and grunts. Frag grenade thrown, a character close by will scream out “Grenade!” to worn the rest of the team. A wounded soldier will cry out for help. As a risen soldier will roar “revenge” or “lucky shot” to let the enemy know they aren’t dead yet. The dialogue was well acted out, and I never felt myself disappointed watching the cinematic. Sound was excellent in the game.

Re-playability- 10/10
While campaign offers a great time, it doesn’t last forever. But if you beat it once, you unlock harder difficulties, which will challenge you, and possibly frustrate the hell out of you. It will test your level of strategy and skill. Re-playing your favorite chapters and scenes with a friend can be fun, and entertaining. And like I said, I found myself addicted to the multiplayer versus. Battles and matches become lively, and difficult. Other players make it more interesting with teamwork, and trash talk. New maps have been created, and are in the process of being created, so as soon as you get used to the current maps, a brand new set is released to be discovered, and fought on.

Typical Match in Multiplayer
There is a maximum of eight players in a multiplayer game. Four to each side, the COG, and the Locusts. For this example, the map is The Mansion. Let’s say for this match, everyone is told to go to the middle, so when the host presses start the teams are randomly chosen. In this particular game, you have been selected to play on the COG, or human side. The match begins. Two of your men rush to go inside the mansion. You and another teammate decide to go around outside, to try and flank the enemy. While holding A you rush around corners, and obstacles to try to get to the courtyard before the opponent does. You get to the courtyard, and hide behind the wall, and peep around to make sure there is no one waiting to surprise you. While your teammate is scouting, you decide to rush for the frag grenades, located by the main door to the mansion. An indicator pops up on the bottom of the left hand screen, showing that someone has taken the sniper rifle. It could be a fellow teammate, or it could be the enemy. Willing to take the risk you rush to the grenades, and swap them for the smoke, and dive roll out the way. Just as a gun shot echoes, as the sniper was the enemy who had you on scopes, waiting at the top of the stairs. You and your teammate decide to wait outside until the sniper is dealt with. A few seconds later, your teammate spots the enemy. He came alone, to get the boom-shock. You two flank him, and he is easily brought to his knees, which is then curb stomped by your teammate. An indicator appears on the screen, one of your fellow squad men is wounded. You can see where is located by the indicator, his life bar frantically increasing as he rapidly taps the A button trying to bring himself to health again, but is soon X-ed out. It is now 3 on 3, and apparently the battle is waging inside the mansion itself. Your teammate decides to rush into the main doors, while you run around to the side, where the Locusts spawned. You run into the doors, and rush upstairs. You see a Locust hugged against a pillar for cover, occasionally looking out to firing a few rounds at your teammates. You rush him with the chainsaw bayonet. Since he is hugged against the wall, his vision can not see, from certain angles, and by the time he does, his torso is ripped into two. You look, and you see the sniper in the center. You try to rush him, kicking the torso of your lately fallen enemy, firing rounds off with your assault riffle, but he has a great aim, and clips you. You are downed. He reloads his gun to fire another round, but is hit by your teammate whipping the pistol in the back of him. You rapidly press A to bring yourself back to your feet. You dive and roll, with the frag grenade in hand. You melee the sniper, and the grenade sticks to him. He realizes this and jumps back. You roll off to the side down the stairs, to escape the explosion. The sniper with only seconds to live rolls into your teammate, as they both explode into a bloody mess. Your teammate who came in the main door, comes out from cover behind numerous furniture. You both go to look on the bottom floor for the last remaining enemy. Your teammate takes point. It becomes frustrating because the enemy refuses to show himself, and remains in hiding. There is no radar or indicator to show where the enemy is. It is now a game of hide and seek. Then as your teammate rounds the corner, a chainsaw revs up. Your teammate tries to maneuver out of the way, but his character screams as he is being torn in two. You run to his aid, and watch as blood sprays over your screen. The locust character could be heard laughing. You equip the shotgun. The locust character saws your friend in half, and there is a waiting time for he needs to re-poise himself. But just as he is once again able to move, you take aim with the shotgun at his torso, and take the shot. His torso goes one way, while his limbs go in their own separate direction. The match ends. COG victory. A short intermission to share kills, revives, points, and trash talk the other team. 10 seconds later, the match restarts.

To buy or to rent?
If you have the money, buy it. Because most likely if you rent this game, you will be wasting five dollars. You will be thinking “Wow, I really wasted my time and money. I should have listened to that review, and bought the game right off the bat. Not only did I spend more money than I hoped, I don’t have ownership of the game. Now I have to spend 65 dollars instead of 60. I could have saved me 5 dollars.” Yes, the game is that good. Yes, you will want to buy this game when you play it. I’m not kidding.

Overall- 10/10
Gears of War is the best game I have played to date. And I look forward to the sequel, and I certainly hope they make it as good or even better than the first one. The characters, and story was amazing. Game-play was the most fun I have played in a game. Whether it be campaign mode, dodging and ducking bullets, or planting a frag grenade onto an enemy human player and watch them frantically dive around trying to take me down with them as they explode. If blood and guts upset you, this definitely isn’t a game for you. But if you love a good action packed game, which requires strategy and teamwork, this game is for you. If you have access to Xbox Live, this is most likely a title you will want to pick up, just for the great multiplayer. This is the best game on the Xbox 360, hands down, and in my opinion one of the best games ever created.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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