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Review – Gears Of War

posted on December 6th, 2006 by craig

With a game that has so much hype grabbing onto to its heels and biting violently, it’s difficult to even know where to begin with such a review. I feel I should be writing an equally monumental review to represent the game: a 3,000 page mini encyclopaedia describing every minute detail that would no doubt spoil the game when you eventually pick it up, and lead to you sending me brown stuff in paper bags through my letterbox. Seeing as though I don’t want large amounts of waste dropping on my doorstep, I’ll refrain. So, where in the hell should I start?

He’s a man’s man (but still straight).

Let’s start at the obvious place — the graphics. I doubt you need me to tell you how pretty this game is, because we’ve all seen the screenshots. Needless to say, Gears looks just as good as we all hoped it would. From the way that Marcus runs down the street, to the noise his gun makes clattering on his back, to even smaller details like the gears logo on his chest, and lush green swaying trees. Epic have managed to create a game world that while straightforward, breathes with so much life you’ll never notice that you’re effectively going down an extremely pretty corridor.

While the game may be linear, the simple path from one side of a room to the other is very rarely that. You’ll quickly realise that although the cover system never gets any more complicated than pressing the A button twice, it’s vital to the action of the game that it’s this simple. At first using A for everything apart from making Marcus’ tea and biscuits can be mildly infuriating, as you’ll be bouncing off, around, and over cover like some kind of crazed marine mixing his combat tactics with his dodgeball skills, but as soon as you “get” it you’ll love it’s simplicity. Add in the “roadie run,” a form of sprinting and ducking that happens when you hold A (surprise surprise), and you’ve got enough skills to get you out of any sticky situation.

This allows you to more concentrate on the bit that makes this game a shooter; the shooting. This is going to sound strange, but I don’t think I’ve ever played a shooter that does shooting so well. Halo comes close, Killzone isn’t bad, Call of Duty is pretty good at it, but Epic has really cornered the market here. Forget the difference between third person and first person shooters; this is the shooter for the 360 right now. The only adjective I can use to describe the shooting is “meaty.” All the weapons feel heavy, like how you’d imagine a gun to feel. They feel like things that kill people, and when the bullets hit the aliens the feel like they’re impacting, instead of just formulaically adding up to a death. You’ll enjoy gunning down every single enemy in Gears, and you’ll enjoy playing through sections time and time again.

“These beautiful Autumn red bushes will keep me hidden.”

And you better enjoy it, because you will be repeating sections over and over. And over. And over. If there’s one gripe that can be levelled at Gears it’s the lack of a proper saving function. You can’t save anywhere, instead it autosaves at the end of each chapter. If you die just before the end of that chapter — which you frequently will on the higher difficultly levels — you’ll be restarting the whole chapter. Sometimes having to restart isn’t your fault, it’s all down to your ridiculously dumb team-mates. It seems as though Epic spent so much time on the pretty visuals and gameplay mechanics that they stuck in the AI as an afterthought when they realised most games don’t run well without it. The enemy AI is slightly better, but when you ramp up the difficultly level they just get more aggressive and harder to kill rather than any more skilled at killing you. You’ll more than likely be disappointed with the length of the story too, but all these are minor gripes that can be put aside when you’re talking about such a masterpiece as Gears of War.

I’ll admit: when I saw the videos of this game I thought it looked the same as a lot of other games I’ve seen. And it is. Very similar. It’s got the generic alien storyline, the manly men, the big weapons and the big explosions. But what sets this game three million miles ahead of anything else is how well it’s all done. You might have tasted this pie before, but I guarantee it’s never tasted this good.

Ever.

Buy. Now.

9-but-so-nearly-ten/10

2 Comments

  1. Matt said on December 6, 2006:

    Hopefully I get an Xbox 360 for Xmas, because Gears will be the first game I get. Dead Rising might be another, but Gears is the first killer app for 360 I’ve seen.

  2. GoldenJew said on December 8, 2006:

    I love Gears.  I typically HATE console shooters, because I’m so wedded to the keyboard/mouse control set.  However, a few weeks ago my roommate was scared of the Locust, so he asked me ot play through the game with him (true story, he’s a pussy).   Had a blast with it.  Looking forward to beating it through on the harder difficulties, and playing around online.  It actually has made me want to go give Rainbow Six Vegas a run too, since my historic hatred of console shooters is popped.  I may no longer have my virginity, but I can now be a slut. 

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