Review by the_great_tidus
All Hype and no Substance
Gears of War is a third person shooter released in 2006 for the Xbox360. The game quickly garnered hype based on its snazzy visuals and cover system. Touted as the first killer app for the Xbox360 Gears of War had a lot of hype to live up to. However Gears of War is a relatively shallow game that will leave you feeling Disappointed
Storyline - (2/10) Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera.14 Years prior to the start of the game an event called Emergence Day(E-Day) took place. Creatures known as the Locust who look like monstrous pale white humanoid creatures emerged from underground and attacked human cities. From this point humanity has been losing ground and countless lives to these monsters and fighting a losing battle. The Main character of the game is Marcus Fenix, a brutish ape like man, but capable leader. At the start of the game a former comrade of Marcus, Dominic Santiago rescues Marcus from a holding cell to inform he is being reinstated as a COG soldier. From here the story plays out pretty predictably you are given a mission to map the catacombs where the locust come from and essentially try to destroy them. The game features no plot twists, no real deeper meaning which is surprising for a game titled Gears of War you would hope for some deeper commentary on War or anything. The story is shallow and not interesting. The cast of characters are cliched military grunts with little intelligence outside of combat. Marcus Fenix himself is very bland and stern. The other members of the team Cole Train, Dom, and Baird are more comedic but ultimately they fall into the cliched soldier roles. Overall the story is very bad and shallow
Gameplay - (6/10) Gears of War is mainly a third person shooting game. You run from checkpoint to checkpoint killing whatever locusts get in your way. Your main weapon is a lancer machine gun with a chainsaw attached to it for melee situations. The concept of a gun with a chainsaw on it is ridiculous but chainsawing an enemy is very satisfying. Other weapons such as a sniper, shotgun, and torque bow become available later and provide some variety in how to kill your locust adversaries. The game uses a cover system in which your character can stick to and hide behind various cover on the map. Usually this will involve hiding behind a waist high concrete slab. This mechanic works fairly well however there are times you can get stuck to cover you don't want. From this point you can blindfire from cover or pop out and take some well placed shots at your enemies who can also use cover. If enemies get close you can either melee them with a weapon or chainsaw them. The enemy A.I can be decent but its also easy to exploit certain situations. The downside of this game is how repetitive the shooting gets and every shooting situation feels too similar. There are certain points they try to mix it up like a vehicle level, or puzzles but they are never as polished as the shooting aspect. Make no mistake this game is pretty much a linear shooter and lasts only about 7 hours split up into 5 Chapters. There is some replay in the online mode. You can compete in 4 vs. 4 play against other players online which can be fun however the maps are very tiny and rely on control of certain weapons. The online can also rely on host advantage which means whoever hosts the game will have a huge advantage on killing players, which many have exploited online. Overall the gameplay is just nothing special, it's passable but never reaches any level of greatness. The repetitive nature of the game will leave some feeling bored and unsatisfied.
Graphics - (7/10) Technically Gears of War was one of the most advanced games on consoles when it came out. The game features good textures for environments, everything is pretty detailed and it's one of the first titles to really have that next gen look. Artistically Gears of War is nothing special and can even be ugly at times. I'll start by talking about the character models. Generally characters look like they are made out of clay, and people are overly bulky that appear to have the bodytypes of gorillas rather than human beings. Aesthetically this isn't very pleasing and it's hard to connect with such freakish looking people. The environments are very bland and usually come in shades of grey and brown. It does paint a very bleak picture which falls in line with the post apocalyptic campaign but it just isn't nice to look at. The lighting for the game is pretty good, all the shadows are good and flashes of lightning look fantastic. As a whole the graphics are a mixed bag. They are technically above average but unimaginative and bland. If you appreciate artistic beauty and creativity Gears of War will do nothing for you.
Gears of War excels in some areas but it has faults that ultimately make it forgettable and shallow. The game only runs about 7 hours and outside of collecting COG tags there isn't much reason to ever touch this game again. It's worth a rental but nothing more. From an artistic and meaningful aspect Gears of War fails as much as a game could. Only through technical graphics and a cover system does it deserve any merit.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Gears of War (US, 11/07/06)
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