Gears of War was the premier release for the Xbox 360 in 2006. Microsoft had to find another big hitting game that did not bear the Halo name. Indeed, Microsoft did seem to find a truly heavy hitter that would tide the gaming public over while the next iteration of Halo was way off in the distant future. I am happy to report that Gears of War is everything that Microsoft could have hoped for and then some.
Gears of war ditched the popular viewpoint of first person, and instead opted for a less traditional third person perspective. The formula end ups working out really well. Using cover is a key element to Gears of War’s game play. Gamers not using this feature will find themselves meeting a certain quick demise. You take cover behind fences, benches, crates, etc, wait for the enemy to pop up from cover and then start firing. You move from cover point to cover point with a quick button press. Gears is also a glorious depiction of brutality. Blood is flying, cities are ravaged and heads are getting crushed with a quick curb stomp.
The story of Gears of War is depicted around Marcus Pheonix and the Locust Horde. The Locust Horde is running rampant and attacking all the major cities. There is all around bloodshed and many human casualties. Eventually the Locust are at the prison where Pheonix is being held. He disobeys orders and leaves the prison in an effort to save his father. He eventually wages an all out battle against the Locusts. Personally, I thought the story was kind of generic. In my opinion Epic has not been known for great stories but most of their games have been more focused on the game play. Gears of War seems to fall into this mold.
Visually, Gears of War is a true jaw dropper. Epic has proven that they do know the ins and outs of their Unreal Engine 3. The characters and environments are really detailed. The only complaint I have is that the environments are not very expansive. The effects of the gunfire and explosions are also equally impressive. One truly unique feature to Gears of War is the chainsaw attachment to the rifle. You can literally leave your enemies in a bloody pulp. This is definitely satisfying. The Hammer of Dawn is also a lot of fun too.
The sound effects are also of good quality. With guns sounding realistic and fitting the mood. The voice acting is also decent although the dialogue is a bit cheesy. The AI is also good with enemies attacking when they should and taking cover accordingly. Most of the time enemies will not just allow you to kill them by just standing still. The main campaign is of decent quality but is a bit on the short side. The main story is definitely loads of fun but where Gears of War really excels is the multiplayer.
The game is full of multiplayer options that should please some of the most hardcore online multiplayer fans. Even the campaign mode offers a co-op feature where you and a friend can play through the entire game online. There are also an ample amount of maps to play online. The online portion of Gears of War adds tremendous replay value to the game. It is no wonder that Gears of War is one of the biggest hits on Xbox LIVE even years after it’s release.
Overall Gears of War is truly a stunning showpiece of for the Xbox 360. The graphics, sound, multiplayer, and fun factor are all of great quality. It is still a blast to wipe out the Locust Horde even today, and the online components are stellar. The only complaint I have is that I wish that the party system and game start up was a copy of Halo 3. I guess you can’t have everything though. Gears of War is a definite must have for any hardcore shooter enthusiast. I am in eager anticipation of the sequel.