Gears of War Review
Great game with fantastic visuals. This is a console port done right.
Gears of War is a 3rd person shooter developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was first released as an Xbox 360 exclusive, and it went on to become one of the most successful games for the console. It was later released for the PC with some added content and better visuals to support the high end graphics cards.
Gears of War story takes place on the fictional planet named Sera. Humans who inhabit this planet have discovered liquid Imulsion in the planet’s underground. This became the power source replacing petroleum and nuclear fuel. The war over the control of the substance led to the forming of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) to end the war. After peace was settled over humanity, a race known as Locust broke to the surface from underground with a mission to wipe out humanity. In a larger-than-life war humans suffered a lot of causalities. The day Locust broke to the surface was called the Emergence Day.
Marcus Fenix, a former COG soldier who was imprisoned for abandoning his post, is reinstated into command and asked to join the Coalition to fight Locust. He is made to command the Delta Squad, with three other teammates, one of who will a constant companion throughout the game. The game is quite different from most 3rd person shooters in that, it relies heavily on cover mechanics. You take cover behind various objects during firefights, and stand up to shoot and duck back out of sight. This is just about how the entire game requires you to play. The entire gameplay can be described as cover-shoot-cover, and this persists throughout game. There is no change in tactics at all. That is not to say it isn’t fun but it can get a little repetitive towards the end.
Despite the slightly repetitive nature of the gameplay, it is very free flowing. There are a couple of places which I thought were frustrating. I am told that the game is a lot more frustrating at higher difficulty, so if you don’t want the kind of pain that comes with trying segments of the game repeatedly, stick to casual difficulty level. Even in the casual setting, there is some frustration to be had. Difficulty climbs quite steeply in these sections; I felt there should have been at least one checkpoint during these parts, instead there were none. There is no survival horror aspects to the game as such, but certain sections are very eerie, especially the night levels. Sound effects in these parts play a huge role in creating the right kind of atmosphere.
The sound track is good, but it could have used more variations. Every time there an action sequence, the same music kicks in throughout the game. Granted that the game itself is not very long, yet, listening to the same tune over and over again tends to get monotonous, and however good it might be. The effects are top notch, weapons pack a punch, especially the top gun and the six-shooter.
Weapons are fun to use. I especially loved the torque bow it reminded me of Rambo. In fact, the whole game feels like a big Hollywood movie. It’s very slick and fast paced. The melee combat has some great moments. The chainsaw to the machinegun was a great idea, when you get a chainsaw kill on an enemy, the game takes over and it shows you slicing an enemy into half. As cool as this might be, it could have been implemented better., yet sometimes it doesn’t work like it should, so I can only recommend using melee combat on the small enemies, or else, you will find yourself getting killed quite easily trying to melee a bigger enemy. Shotgun and six-shooter are very powerful if used at close range; one shot can tear the enemies apart.
Controls work very well for most part. On a few occasions the character chooses the wrong place to take cover and gets killed in the process, but this does not happen too often. The cover mechanism works great. It’s possible to blind fire on enemies while staying in cover and this comes in handy when there are a lot of enemies charging at you.
The best in the game for me are the visuals. Gears of War uses Unreal 3 engine, and it looks fantastic. I played the game in DirectX 10 mode at 1920x1200 with all settings on maximum on my EVGA GeForce 260GTX, and it looked out of this world. There is something about the art and environment though, while they are beautiful and unique, most of the game the environment is various shades of dirt. This can seem monotonous after a while. This could have used some lush green jungles as seen in Crysis. It would have looked beautiful in Unreal 3 engine.
Cooperative gameplay will be great, but as a single player, you will find that your teammates are not the smartest. They tend to run into enemy fire, and charge onto enemies instead of flanking from the side. They also get injured and you need to go help them. In the single player, I stopped paying their injuries any attention after a while and they tend to heal themselves. That was a feature in single player that could have been done better. At casual difficulty, the teams are not a whole lot of help, except when they are scripted to be. Enemies can be tough at times. The smaller ones tend to just charge at you, but the bigger ones take cover, throw grenades and so on. The ones are the turrets are the hard to kill, and they can be very destructive. They are very challenging throughout, without being frustrating. Also it’s not possible to kill certain enemies, so evasive tactics have to be used to get rid of them. These provide for some very tense moments and can be fun.
Over all it’s a fantastic experience. Gears of War is an excellent port. It has all the qualities of a good port should have and some bad ones too. Controls are very well optimized for the PC. I have no hesitation in recommending this game.