Friday, January 25, 2013

Gears of War Review

NOTE: This review and score are based only on the single player campaign.

Released November 7, 2006
Developed By: 
Epic Games
People Can Fly (PC version)
Published By: Microsoft
Platforms: 360
Gear of War from Epic Games is a third person shooter which revolutionizes cover based combat.  The detailed graphics, interesting story, and incredible music combine with innovative combat to create a game everyone should try.
The game world is pleasantly gory; killing enemies results in a satisfying amount of blood.  Cutting an enemy in half with your machine gun mounted chainsaw splatters the screen with blood, further adding to the carnage.  I liked this effect as it increased the bloodiness of the game while actually blocking some of your view of the violence. The violence is so over the top it can never be taken too seriously.
The story isn't anything special, but it does a good job holding together the game. Locusts are invading from under the Earth.  You play as Marcus Fenix, a former Gear (soldier) in the COG Army.   At the start of the game Marcus is released from prison because humanity is reeling and needs all the help it can get.  Marcus and his Delta Squad are soon charged with the mission to position a massive “Light Mass” bomb far enough underground to destroy all Locusts in one huge lightsplosion. The pacing is fantastic; I never seemed to be able to put down the controller.  The entire game takes place over one thrilling day, which helped move things along nicely.
           The camera is over the shoulder third person, similar to Resident Evil 4.  When Marcus takes damage, a red gear starts to fade into the center of the screen.  Take too much damage, and down he goes.  His health regenerates after avoiding damage for a few seconds.  A downed ally can be revived simply by pressing X while standing over them.  Your allies can also revive you, though sometimes when playing my allies ignored me as I died.  The ability to revive helped make the difficulty a little more forgiving, and it also provided incentive to stay near squad mates, rather than just running in guns blazing as in some other shooter games.    Flanking enemies entrenched behind cover becomes a necessity on harder difficulties.
Some over the top chainsaw action
         Anything Marcus's body can fit behind he can take cover behind.  When behind cover, aiming will let you lean out to mow down some enemies while still partially covered.  You can also have Marcus blind-fire from behind cover while staying completely protected.  The A button lets you easily move in and out of cover.  A also controls sprinting while away from cover.  This can make running past cover hard, but it never caused me any major frustrations.  There were a few times when I began to run out of ammunition, which started to hurt the pacing.  I am not too skilled, so maybe I was just wasting too many bullets, but I would hope Epic Games would take crappy third person shooter players into account.
           There are a decent variety of weapons.  Marcus can carry three weapons at a time, one of which must be a pistol.  You get to choose from an awesome machine gun with a chain saw mounted to the front, a shotgun, an assault rifle, a magnum, a sniper rifle, and a snub pistol.  There are also a couple of heavier weapons added to the mix; a bow with exploding arrows, and a mini-rocket launcher known as the Boom Shot.  And then there is the supremely powerful Hammer of Dawn, a targeting beam for a satellite based attack laser.  The Hammer of Dawn is only available to take down a few uber mobs, so it never gets old or makes you feel overpowered. The guns all feel unique, and the weapons have a satisfying kick to them.
The reloading system adds some allure to reloading.  After hitting the reload button, pressing the button again at the right time will result in a faster reload.  There is also a smaller window during reloading where if the reload button is pressed you will not only reload faster, but you will gain a damage boost for that clip of ammunition.  
The soundtrack does a great job heightening the tension.  Orchestral scores thunder with bass, crescendoing as the action grows more intense. The soundtrack can only be described as epic.  Every line of dialogue is voice acted.  The voice actors do a great job; the voices of the Gears are suitably gruff.  
             The fast paced, never ending action of Gears of War is something anyone, not just shooter fans, will enjoy.

                                                                     Full Scoring Guide