With Gears of War 2 in high anticipation, those who have yet to engage in the first battle should throw their Xbox 360 into the first Gears game. Developed by Epic Games, Gears of War attempts to jam as much excitement and intensity into a game as possible, and the results deliver to a certain degree.
Team Play is Key
At its core, Gears of War is a team based shooter, whether that team is controlled by the computer or by another player. The level design is built for squad members to spread out and strategically attack the opponent. This also applies to the enemy, which also make squad-based attacks a challenge. Players can communicate verbally in the same room or over Xbox Live to initiate team-based maneuvers, but ordering the CPU is ineffective and not available until after the first act.
As players progress, it’s obvious that having a human player to accompany the other is much better than relying on the CPU. The harder difficulties make having a computer ally almost pointless, as they seem to die rather quickly.
Players will spend more time trying to recover their computer teammates or fighting the tough parts for them, which causes lots of trial and error gameplay. Putting it simply, the fight is more fun and easier with a buddy. Playing multiplayer over Xbox Live drives the action element through team play further, providing several multiplayer maps with a decent amount of features.
Not for the Faint of Heart
Lead Developer Cliff Bleszinski notes many times at how “bad-ass” of a game Gears is, and it definitely shows off much brutality in its gameplay. Firefights are intense, and almost always use cover as a way to fight off the enemy. As the difficulty increases, the enemy carefully uses cover fire more, meaning strategy like flanking will be needed to defeat the enemy. An assortment of basic weapons seen in nearly every shooter game (i.e., assault rifle, pistol, shotgun, etc.), but the game’s signature weapon is the Lancer.
At first glance, this seems like a rifle with a chainsaw. While that is true, the feeling of using the chainsaw cannot be summarized into words, but yet must be experienced. When approaching and enemy with the lancer, players can rev up the chainsaw and tear their opponent to shreds. Simply put, this attack is something players will want to do over and over again, and it never gets old.
Big on Gameplay, not Story
The universe that Gears is based upon takes place in the future on a human planet know as Sera. At some point, a race of underground dwellers, known as Locusts, emerged and laid waste on the human cities of Sera. Players assume the role of Marcus Fenix, as he and other soldiers attempt to stop the Locust invasion.
Unfortunately, that’s all there is to the story. While at certain points the game implies much back-story, it never fleshes anything out. The ending will leave some scratching their heads thinking, “what was I fighting for again?”
Gears of War will provide plenty of action for its story-mode campaign, but also has multiplayer via Live. Combined, these two components give Gears a hefty amount of replay value. While the story feels weak, it’s something that can be improved upon in the sequel. It’s absolutely worth playing once through, if not just for one whack at the chainsaw.
Score: 8.5 out of 10