Like a lot of other people I bought into the hype and picked up a copy of Gears of War the first week it came out. I wasn't really anticipating the game but when it finally arrived I guess like everyone else I was influenced by the onslaught of advertising. With Gears of War opening me up to so many things I had never seen before (I had just bought an xbox at that point), I can't really say that I wasted my money even though I still to this day don't see what all the hype is about.
Gears of War places the player in the not to distant future where the planet earth has been overrun by a species that humans refer to as Locusts. When I first played Gears of War I thought the story was pretty bad, they left out a lot of details and the player knew very little about the Locusts by the end of the game, and that aggravated me a little bit. When I was done with it I really thought about it and decided that it's not so much that the story is bad as it is that the way they are telling it is designed to bring you back for a sequel. Now with that being said the story isn't great. You follow Marcus Phoenix who begins the game in a military prison that he is broken out of by a solider and friend (Dom). Once freed, Phoenix is charged with stopping some sort of doomsday weapon that the Locusts have designed. You spend a majority of the game trying to reach this weapon and destroy it. In the end the story feels incomplete (as it was supposed to I can only imagine) and is littered with horrible dialog that should only be suitable only for the crappiest of action movies.
Now like I have already said Gears of War opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never experienced in video games before and for that the game scores some extra points. Gears of War was my first experience with a cover system that I have grown to love. After playing Gears of War with its one button cover mechanic I fell that every game that does not have a history predating the cover system should be designed with a cover system of some sort. Being able to easily switch from one area of cover to another with the flick of a button is fantastic. As a matter of fact the whole control scheme is top notch. Even though Marcus Phoenix is clunky by the nature of his massive figure, the controls for Gears of War's campaign never make you think about the controller or what you want to do next; you just react. I also enjoyed the co-op system that Gears of War offered up. Once again this was a first for me. I had never played an online co-op game before and even to this day the co-op for Gears of War is as good as any other co-op currently available. Being able to seamlessly hop in and out of games and not have it take you out of the action is one of my favorite features in the game. Finally and probably most importantly the campaign for Gears of War features some phenomenal game play. The Locust AI is some of the best I have seen in any game. I never found myself in a situation where they were looking or shooting in the wrong direction, they flank and they are a great shot; making every encounter with the Locust a challenge. And to kill those very intelligent Locusts, Epic has provided the player with some great weaponry. I can honestly say that the chainsaw gun is one of my all time favorite weapons. The visuals and sound of cutting through your enemies is one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming and I would strongly recommend that every gamer try it at least once.
Sadly for all its innovation Gears of War falls very short of gaming perfection as some would have you believe. The campaign is very short and I will put an emphasis on very. The campaign can probably take you no more than 6 hours. Although there are differently difficulty levels to take for a spin the horrific dialog and below average story will probably make this a one and done for your average player. Now for my money multiplayer is where it's at. A game like Gears of War can have the shortest, crappiest story this side of Lost Planet but as long as they have a quality multiplayer it doesn't matter. Sadly though, Gears of War really suffers for me in the multiplayer arena. The game feels completely unpolished and very clunky for lack of a better word. I always felt like I was facing the wrong way or that my character just didn't have adequate range of movement in order to get the job done. Not to mention I can't count the number of times I was basically sniped with a shotgun and watched my body explode only to shoot someone with every same weapon the next round at point blank range and watch them walk away. This was not an isolated incident, it was a common occurrence. Suffice it to say that the game really could have used some refinement in the multiplayer.
All in all Gears of War is a solid game. For shooter fans you will most likely find something to enjoy. For online enthusiasts prepare to be frustrated and confused at the same time. With an overhauled multipalyer and a better story Gears of War could easily be as great as it's hyped up to be.