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April 28, 2008 | by  | in Games |
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Games review: Gears of War

Game: Gears of War
Genre: 3rd Person Shooter
Publisher: Epic Games

Fucking hell. Gears of War is great. It’s not perfect, but it’s still pretty amazing. Many production houses badly try to do the whole sci-fi shooter thing. At last we have a game that doesn’t.

You play as Marcus Fenix, the biggest and baddest soldier on the block. So bad he was put in prison for being treacherous. Obviously the Coalition of Ordered Government (COG) was scared shitless by him. Your best mate/soldier Dom, equally as badass, rescues you from prison, forces a gun in your hand and sets you to work. The ‘Locust’, the game’s evil race of villains (think Starship Troopers meets the orcs from Lord of the Rings) have attacked the city, and you and Dom need to go kill things.

It’s a great start to a complex and engaging storyline. I won’t explain it all here because that’s mean, but shit. It’s good. There are more twists, drama and intrigue than an Agatha Christie novel. Along the way you meet further characters to join your squad: Baird, the grumpy, cynical, and anally retentive engineer; and Cole, the former American Football playing, steroid abusing and hilariously funny grunt.

The graphics are amazing, as expected of a console title, properly ported onto a PC. Sure it’s harsh on your rig. But if you want the l33tist Gears of War experience, then you are going to need something decent. So if you still hanging onto your Athlon 2500+ Its time to upgrade. The levels are well designed, in flow, continuity, and artistic beauty. The weird futuristic but 18th Century-inspired gothic buildings are fucking fascinating. And very, very eerie.

The gameplay is innovative, but becomes annoyingly repetitive. Basically one of your squad members yells “Locusts!” and then you each enter into a shooting battle. To change positions you can jump from cover to cover, crouching behind walls or pillars obviously inserted for that very purpose. It’s bloody intense and fun the first, second or third time you do it but as the major vehicle for the game’s conflict it gets boring fast.

However in its defence, we must remember that it is a port. It’s linear as hell. Xbox gamers traditionally aren’t intelligent enough to use tactics by themselves. But the linear style does allow for some pretty neat stylistic touches. You can literally jump from cover to cover, in the coolest commando roll you can muster, and once behind a wall or pillar you can ‘blind fire’ — holding your gun over your covered head and emptying a clip without aiming. What fun!

The weapons available are standard. Revolvers, sniper rifles, grenades, automatic rifles, etc. There are two notable exceptions. Firstly there is a chainsaw bayonet under your rifle: you can rev it up and plunge it into your enemy. A delicious blood splatter appears on your screen. Yummy.

The second is the explosive bolt crossbow. There is nothing more hilarious then watching a mutant run into his squad with an explosive in his leg that’s about to go BOOM! All the weapons have a neat reloading feature, if you can time your reload to end at a certain point; you get a damage bonus on some of your bullets. Half the fun is hitting the reload ‘sweet stop’ while the locust have you pinned under a wall of fire.

Gears of war has a competent multiplayer setup, but it’s hampered by the fact it is primarily designed for Xbox Live. But by far it excels in its single player co-op mode. GoW on insane mode is diabolically fucking hard, playing alone. But add your LAN mates and the game takes on a whole new level of fun. By allowing your lan buddies to take control of the games AI squad mates you can plow through this game in gruesome fashion — with the added bonus of removing those pesky, and often moronic, AI elements.

Gears of War is great fun. Some decry its linear levels and repetitive gameplay. But at the end of the day it’s got a great story, has fappable graphics and good enough action to keep you interested. As Marcus says (after using chainsaw bayonet), “I could do that all day!” Plus the “Cole train” raps at the end baby!


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