Being that this is my first review to grace the MyGamer website, I figured I would do things a little differently. As Gears of War is considered to be the "killer app" of the Xbox 360, I would first like to point out two myths that gamers and reviewers alike have expressed regarding the game:
"Gears of War is a "stop and pop" shooter": This is not necessarily true. While there are many hideaway points on each section of the game, you can choose to run and gun them out. Some parts of each stage will need to be approached with caution, as it will take plenty of duck and cover maneuvers to complete the task(s) at hand. Running out in the battlefield guns'a'blazin' will lead to a closed casket funeral in some situations.
"The Story did not end right" or, as some have put it, "left a lot being unanswered": Ok, when I read these comments before i played the game, I thought, "This coming from gamers that think the gaming world begins and ends within the Halo Universe???" After completing the game, I had no quarrels with how the plot unfolded or how the story ended. A true story of a game, IMO, is one that poses a situation that has to be rectified before the game can end. Gears of War did this in elegant fashion. Without giving away too much of the story, I can say that it was a classic plot of "if you don't succeed the first time….try, try, again". Needless to say, all of my questions were answered by the time the game ended.
With that being said, it should come as no shock that Gears of War gets one of MyGamer's top scores ever. Not only was the story engaging and eventful, the game made it very difficult to put the controller down! The action was non-stop and in some instances, gave you different paths to take along the way. Granted, there weren't many choices you had to make, but in the end, it was a nice change and that one aspect added to the replay value of the game. Online co-op and multiplayer madness did an excellent job of changing how shooters played on Xbox Live should be.
Gears of War's main character, Marcus Fenix, starts out in prison for defying orders and was sentenced to 40 years of solitude for that defiance. He is rescued by one of his pals and here is where the action takes off. Your goal: To stop the Locust Horde at any and all cost. While that seems to be a typical plot for action titles these days, that is stopping an alien race from taking over, Gears does a good job of providing many twists and turns in the story to keep you involved. From saving one of the other groups of soldiers in the city to providing a different and more engaging enemy every time you enter a new section of the stage. Add on the part of some stages where you can choose one direction or another to go in a split path and you never will lose focus on the story or task at hand. Of course, you want to keep your team alive for those necessary instances where you have to attack a group of enemies from all angles. This is also where you'll find plenty of frustration as well. Your teammates do a good job of taking cover and engaging the enemy at the right time, but you would think that when they're hit, they could bandage themselves up. Instead of being able to continue on through the map, you will find yourself having to run back from where you came to give your buddies a health boost (Damn You Dom!! Damn You!!). But if you think about it, that is a part of Gears that puts some realism into the game, at the same time providing you with a sense of responsibility for your team.
The number and variety of weapons you have at your disposal in Gears never gets old or disappointing. From the standard Lancer Assault Rifle (Yes, this is the one with the Chainsaw attached at the end) to the "Hammer of Dawn", there will never be a time when you wish this game had more weapons. Each one provides numerous ways to use and attack with. Whether you decide to shoot from long range with the Longshot Sniper Rifle or just melee the hell out of your enemy with the butt of the very powerful Gnasher Shotgun, the number of combinations you use to destroy and terrorize never gets old. Being that the artillery is plentiful and can be used in different ways, it may take some time to get used to all of it. This is where the learning curve steps in and could possibly take you a stage or two to get acquainted with it. Since you can carry up to 4 separate weapons (that includes your grenades in one of the slots), you could find yourself grabbing one of your pieces at the wrong time. This will undoubtedly leave you vunerable to a Locust attack. The Locust are quite smart in this game, as they will attack and approach you at will. They sometimes do not let up, which will lead you to playing over a stage a few times so that you can find the best possible way to take out a group of foes. Why would you do that, you ask?? Well, everyone, it wouldn't be fair to the game if you played on the easiest difficulty only, NOW would it! When and if you do decide to replay the game on a higher, more difficult setting, you can try the path that you didn't experience your first time out. That should give you a more in-depth view of the story and will help you to notice little tidbits missed the first time around. Speaking from experience, i dreaded playing the game on the medium difficulty just for the fact that i would have to play the driving stage again. Trust me, that one section of the game was quite brutal, as you had to work both Marcus driving and Dom shooting the Light Cannon at the numerous hordes of bat-like creatures heading straight for you at every angle. Playing through that made me even less of a night person after!
While the several actions you can take in the single player mode help keep your butt alive, you will find these even more convenient in online play. This will become abundantly clear the first time you run around "Master Chief-style" in a online match. So, stay behind cover till clear and at all costs, do not let your opponent get too close to you, as they may decide to make you a walking time bomb with a grenade melee. Just envision watching your body scatter in a gazillion pieces and you kind of get the picture. But grenade melees are just one aspect of the intense online play! The boards are the perfect size for 4 on 4, as that is the max # of people that can play in a matchmaking session. It would have been nice for the Gears' developers to at least offer 6 vs. 6 or 8 vs. 8 modes, but that is probably my only gripe, if you call it that, about the game online. I have yet to run on a slow server when playing the online matchmaking sessions and the smooth gameplay makes for good times all around. If you can imagine a game without online modders, you would see why Gears of War has become the most online played game right now.
Now that you have had your briefing for this "Virtual Highway to Hell", here's the scores and how they came about:
Gameplay: With all the moves and weapons you possess in the game, the gameplay mechanics have set a new plateau for next-gen titles. Besides the times you wish you could put a leash on your teammates to keep them from running out into a barrage of enemies, you will not find much less wrong with the game.
Graphics: Two Words….Absolutely Stunning. From the backgrounds to the hiding spots that slowly diminish as they take continued fire, the developers couldn't have done a better job at providing the perfect environment. Gears does have quite the greyish color to it, but would you expect anything less from a ravaged world?
Sound: Epic did an outstanding job in this department. Turn off the lights, let the surround system hit at all cylinders, and Gears of War will make you feel as if it is in your very own living room. Bullets fly and whiz past you, Locusts grunt and squeal upon approaching, etc.-Gears went all out to provide gamers with the ultimate action experience!
Value: This is one of very few titles I can say that you can play over and over again. Alternating paths provide contrasting views of the story from every angle. Sometimes taking a step back or giving yourself cover for a few seconds will give you insight on how to approach an already played area in a new way. The online modes never grow dull as you find you can alter your plan of attack each time you hit up a new matchmaking session.
Tilt: The learning curve should be nailed down after the first couple of areas. Being able to switch to one of your four weapons on the fly is probably the most time consuming activity. You will find different ways to use your artillery at crucial times, but playing through the game more than once will be the best way to figure it out.
This Review Brought to You By Your Loyal MyGamer Servant:
MyGamer Executive Editor-Mike Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org)