Review: Gears of War - 08/07/2008 by Michael
Third Person Shooter
So whilst everyone was waiting for Halo 3 to satisfy their need to frag, and to really establish the Xbox 360 as a must have, along came Gears of War and suddenly there was an immediate reason to jump in bed with microsoft again. After a brief but impressive ad campaign, and great early reviews, Gears became one of those games you would actually buy the console just to play.
But was it really a great leap forward in gaming and was the engine revolutionary? Well Firstly the game looks amazing with great landscapes and a beautiful widescreen look. The war torn feel of the city streets adds great feeling to the game, and the constant feel of moving through enemy territory is positively unnerving. This feeling is also due to the fact that the enemy, or Locust, can appear from holes in the ground at almost any time, a nice spin on the usual ambush in shooters. Another newish trait is the camera work, or how you view the avatar. Most of the time its over the shoulder 3rd person shooter, but when aiming goes to FPS. In addition when you sprint you get shaky cam like with a handheld camera and the camera angles change when you move in and out of cover, to give the game a very dynamic feel.
Now the cover in this game is also worthy of note, as it adds a new element to shooters that has been developing gradually, but Gears has made a great leap with its combat cover system. As the story goes the game designers were inspired by a game of paintball and the way that cover is used. As anyone who has played paintball knows, you must use cover wisely to survive and if you leave cover at the wrong time you are dead in a second. So the designers took this lesson and put it into the game. In Gears there is no hero runs, but a steady advance from cover to cover with the use of suppressive fire and teamwork. It is a nice change to the Leeroy Jenkins style of run and gun shooters. Not that I don't enjoy those games as well, but variety is nice.
Gears was also trying to get some character development, or some feeling into the game with its use of a squad, as the squad continually chatters throughout the game you may become fond of some of your teammates, especially the Cole Train, voiced by the guy who plays Terrible Terry Tate. Unfortunately this does fall a little short, but I believe it was not the fault of the script writers but problem was the lack of information about the background story. The game needed some sort of a prologue to establish the players Marcus Fenix's history and more importantly the story of Sera. Where is this planet Sera, why are we on it and what time is it? I'm lost. And because of this the characters felt a little lost. There were answers to be found in the collectors edition, but I don't want to have to watch the bonus disk just to know whats going down in the game.
Despite this little gripe of mine to know everything about the character I control, Gears is pretty much the whole package, the single player is fresh and fun with plenty of gore, the co op is seamless, and the multiplayer is hardcore (maybe even too hardcore, it was hard to break into unless you started playing when the game was released). Oh yeah, and one final reason to play it, there is a gun with a chainsaw on it. Winner!