Review by bbears
Fell short of expectations
Gears of War when it came out was one of most anticipated games for the less than year old Xbox 360. This is before Halo 3 and Call of Duty was still a WWII game. Gears of War filled the online shooter role that the console was missing a couple months before the PS3 launch and Resistance came out. Not having much competition allowed this newcomer to become a great success and one of the most popular exclusive franchises for Microsoft. And it was a technical masterpiece with an original cover mechanic that has since been copied countless times by now. But Gears of War has never been my favorite shooter. The single player campaign plays out like an 80's action movie and the small 4 vs. 4 maps were boring to me compared to Resistance and GRAW of the time. Obviously though the game was top notch quality and was the beginning of a very successful franchise.
Gears of War although by now is a little dated was a technical masterpiece when it came out an still looks good to day. Gears of War has a very high level of detail. The textures aren't the best any more but they are definitely the best of the time, including PC. All the weapons and enemies are well detailed and have original designs. The frame rate stays solid throughout the whole game and there is little to none technical issues. The soundtrack is also very well done. Lots of great orchestral tracks as well as one of my all time favorite songs Mad World. Sound design is great all the weapons sound great and the all the sound effects sound great in surround sound. While the script is fairly cheesy the voice acting itself is reasonably well done.
Gears of War to me has always felt kind of sluggish. I think this why I never got into game that much. The control setup is fairly standard and works well enough, but you just move really slow. Aiming feels like your swinging the main game of a tank. The main mechanic that makes this game stand out is the is the cover system. Collision detection is very important to this mechanic and it does work well. Occasionally you do get got on corners but this never becomes a frustration or fatal flaw.
Gears of War definitely has an 80's sci-fi action movie. The dialogue is cheesy and all the characters are overgrown and steroid infused monsters. There are plenty of one liners, however most of them are not very good and the humor feel flat for more for the most part. At the beginning of the game you are Marcus Fenix who is imprisoned for unknown reasons. You are on an alien planet at war with a native alien race, the Locusts, who have out of the ground to lay waste to mankind. For very ambiguous reasons you freed from prison and set off with a squad to venture off on a mission that could change the pace of the war. From there the plot is very straight forward and the sci-fi setting is just that, a background for your destruction.
Gears of War is a 3rd person shooter that places an emphasis on cover. You can post up in a fixed position on almost any object to take cover from enemy fire. While posted up you can pop up and take aimed fire or even just blind fire. The health system is regenerates, so when you take damage you can just hunker down behind cover to regain your health. Most of the game you play with a squad. You have only limited command over you squad an they are not very intelligent. They are good at distracting the enemy or laying general suppression fire. This all combines to give the game a very slow easy pace. On the hard difficulty there isn't even much of a challenge because the mechanics of the game are easy to exploit. The weapons to me actually feel pretty weak, the shotgun in particular feels like a joke. A couple of nice touches the game does have are the grenades and the chainsaw bayonet. The grenades are basically sticky grenades on a chain that you swing around and throw in a wide arc. One of the weapons has a chainsaw bayonet, which is as awesome as it sounds. The multiplayer is much better in my opinion. I'm not a fan of the small 4v4 format but chainsawing enemies in the face can be quite fun. The maps do take advantage of the small teams, lots of well designed choke points. But I still would like to see more chaos and players in every room.
The single player campaign can be completed in under 8 hours and can also be played in co-op. On hard mode the game is not very challenging and offers little reason to play it twice. The co-op mode is fun and does not have any issues. The multiplayer is quite a bit of fun but limited. You will likely play it for a couple hours and then move on.
Gears of War is a good enough game but was never my first choice when it came to shooters. The game is quite old and lost most of it's multiplayer zeal and the campaign is nothing special. While I don't regret playing it now a days I would probably pass on it.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Gears of War (US, 11/07/06)
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