Review by Archmonk Iga
Fun for blockheads and intellects alike!
As much as I hate to admit it, I liked Gears of War. The only reason I hate to admit it is because the head honcho behind the entire game is an enormous tool. I won't mention names, but he's one of those guys who thinks he's cool for wearing a band t-shirt underneath a sport coat at a press conference. You know who I'm talking about.
Here it is--the game we've all been waiting for! Well, not all of us, but most of us. Some of us. But there are still a lot of us. Anyway, we are presented with quite an in-your-face story here. In the single-player campaign, you play as Marcus Fenix, a numbskull whose only real contribution to the game is his laughable attempt to be "badass." He was in a jail cell for 14 years before it was taken over by the Locust, which at that point an old war pal breaks him free (his name is Dom... probably short for DOMINATOR or something "badass" like that). But what's the story behind these Locust, and why was Marcus in prison? Well, the only way you'll find out is to play the game--err that is, the only way you'll find out is to.... read the instruction manual?! Hm... Well, that's kind of a rip-off. So what's the story progression in game? Well, you like, shoot bad guys and stuff. And there's a lot of testosterone and male bonding and big burly numbskulls who, before the Locust invasion, liked to kick back with a beer and watch the game every Sunday with their buddies, while the wifey was secluded to the kitchen until he was ready for some babymakin' after his team wins. Yeah, both the story and characters are quite lame in GoW. But as some positives, the entire atmosphere of the game we play in is quite dark and depressing. The menacing Locust popping up out of the rubble in this once-prosperous city makes for quite an emotional impact, believe it or not.
Undoubtedly the best graphics I've ever seen on a videogame so far in my life. Granted, I don't own a PS3, but I'd still be surprised if most of Sony's next-gen games' visuals are as magnificent as GoW's. The city, inside and out, has the most intense details any gamer will ever see (and maybe won't see...). Unfortunately, most of us lack the patience to stop and really appreciate GoW's perfect graphics. But hey, take a break from the action now and then and look around. You'll find certain things you would've easily passed right by otherwise. It's tough to express this game's beauty in words, so just play the damn thing!
Chainsaw, anyone? The sound effects in GoW are equivalent to the game's graphic look--flawless. Even when you're inside, your gunshots will have different sound effects than if you were inside. If that's not realistic, I don't know what is.
The musical score is well done too, though none of the tunes will really stick with you. Still, it's a good blend of military melodies (say that three times fast...) and music that we'd expect to hear in a survival-horror game.
Lastly, I won't lie. The voices fit the characters. Their numbskull looks are given very appropriate numbskull voices, so props.
Well usually this aspect of the game would be what sells it, but the visuals in GoW would take the cake this time around. Nevertheless, GoW's gameplay is pretty solid. As a "TPS" (third-person shooter), Gears manages to make us gamers really feel like we're in the action (not to sound redundant, but the graphics also help with this). Take cover wherever you please (and whenever possible) and your life will be spared for at least a little bit longer. Lean out, get some shots in, but take cover again before you get a nice clean head shot in your... uh... head.
Guns! Guns guns guns! There are lots of gun choices in GoW, including a few GoW-exclusives that are quite satisfying (Hammer of Dawn, for example). And then there's the chainsaw, which, between you and me, ain't all that great. Simply hold the B button, walk up to an enemy and watch a pretty little animation. Believe it or not, it may get old. But this is a shooter, so everything will get old after awhile.
With all these fun weapons to play with, you'd expect someone to use them on, eh? Well today is your lucky day, because GoW has lots of those someones to use them on! There are big ones, small ones, dumb ones, vicious ones, dumb ones, and dumb ones! Yes, the AI may be slightly lacking for a next-gen game, but the enemy variety is pretty good. I especially liked the Boomers... those things are ****ing scary. Oh, and the boss fights! The boss fights are all great. Hell, why didn't they make a gameplay mode where you can just fight bosses?
Despite these mostly positive comments I'm giving GoW, I found a few problems. First of all, I don't know about you, but it took me longer than most shooters to figure out what the hell I was doing. The learning curve in GoW is steeper than your average Halo, my friend. But give it time, child. Give it time.
Another problem was the dash button. When dashing, you get a really cool blurred background, where you kind of lose focus on everything except yourself. The problem with this is that I too often found myself dashing straight into, say, a parked car? Hey, that wasn't what I was running towards!
One of the best things about the Campaign is the two-player split screen option. This is when player 1 is Marcus and player 2 is his buddy Dom. What separates this from other games is that the two of you aren't always together. You might have to split up with a couple computer players so you can meet up at the final destination. It adds that little bit of realism and excitement to the game... plus it's always fun to play through the story cooperatively with a friend.
One of the biggest reasons people play shooters is for the multiplayer. Unfortunately, GoW's multiplayer isn't quite up to par with a lot of others'. The main gripe is how limited everything is--small maps, Live, different versus modes. Don't get me wrong, it's still addicting as hell, but... hey, is that Halo 3 you're playing? **** this game, let me join you!
But you know all that, don't you? This game's only been talked about to death a bazillion times. Every game has its pros and cons, and while GoW doesn't provide anything extraordinarily new, it still manages to one-up pretty much every shooter that came before it.
While the multiplayer may not be as in depth as some others, it's still quite addicting. And with three very different difficulty levels in Campaign mode (seriously, don't even try Insane), you'll be playing GoW for awhile. And while the Campaign may be a little short, it could still take awhile when you're trying to figure everything out your first time through.
LASTING APPEAL: 9/10
Marcus Fenix is a moron, and so are you if you can't even remotely enjoy his game. The best looking game I'm sure you will have the pleasure of looking at for quite a while to come, along with some fun gameplay aspects, makes Gears of War a definite purchase for any Xbox 360 owner.
Thanks for reading =)
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Gears of War (US, 11/07/06)
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