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Gears of War Review (X360)

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Gears of War Review (X360)
Microsoft
You would think that after all of the hype and coverage Gears of War has gotten over the last year or so, that there would be no way it could live up to expectations. But it does. It meets those expectations and even exceeds them. This is one of the best looking and best playing games of 2006. And you’ll only find it on Xbox 360.
Quick Hits

  • Title: Gears of War
  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • Developer: Epic Games
  • ESRB: “M” For Mature
  • Genre: Third-Person-Shooter
  • Pros: Amazing graphics; solid gameplay; great level design; scary single-player; co-op; deathmatch
  • Cons: Playing by yourself is kind of boring; “A” button controls can lead to frustration

Gameplay

Microsoft
Unlike other shooters where you can just rush into combat and play Rambo, that will only lead to a quick death in Gears. Instead, you have to hide behind cover and try to knock off enemies from relative safety. Pretty much every object in the game can be used for cover, and you’re going to need it because the enemies are smart and relentless and if you try to rush into anything, you will die. You would think that all of this hiding and skulking around would make the game slowly paced, but it is actually the complete opposite. The game moves forward at a breakneck pace, and even if you spend several minutes on any one firefight, it isn’t as if you are just hiding. You constantly have to move around to find better positions for attack, or to find more ammo, or to revive a fallen teammate, or to rush an enemy when you have an opening so you can deal the deathblow with the chainsaw attached to the end of your gun. Yes, you read that right, one of the guns has a built in chainsaw. Pretty nifty, huh? You carry three guns plus grenades at all times, and similar to Halo, you often have to make a decision about which guns are best for any given situation, which means leaving your trusty shotgun or something equally useful behind.

The only complaint I have with the gameplay is that you use the A button to hide behind cover, but also to run. This leads to situations where you are trying to run through a narrow opening but the game automatically hides you behind a nearby object. The boss fight at the end of chapter 1 is very annoying because of this.

Story Campaign

The overall story in Gears takes place on the planet Sera, where a horrible race of monsters have been digging underneath human cities and finally make their move to attack. This day is known as Emergence Day. These monsters, the Locust Horde, are hulking creatures of superhuman strength that want nothing more than to kill every last human on the planet. As horrible as they are, the grunts you face at the beginning are nowhere near the level of the most hideous critters the Horde will throw at you. The campaign in Gears of Wars follows a man named Marcus Fenix. Marcus was court-martialed for defying orders and was sent to prison. That was fourteen years ago, and now as the Horde are closing in on his prison cell, an old friend busts him out and asks him to rejoin the fight.

The story campaign in Gears of War seems linear, but there are open pathways and alternate routes you can take in pretty much every firefight in order to work your way around and flank the enemy. The level design is absolutely wonderful, and you make your way through some very distinct and different environments through the course of the game. Epic used the Bungie/Halo mentality of "30 seconds of fun" to keep you constantly moving forward and into the next firefight. This system works just as well here as it did in those games, and the relentless combat will leave you breathless. Also of note is that this can be a very scary game at times. You see and hear some absolutely horrible things, and it all comes together to draw you into the game even more.

Review continued on Page 2 ...
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