Gears of War

aka: GOW

[ All ] [ Xbox 360 ] [ Xbox One ]

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 94% (based on 137 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 92 ratings with 5 reviews)

Just don't think about it too much

The Good

  • One of the great things about this game is that it is simple. From the beginning, your primary solution to pretty much every problem you come across will be to shoot everything you see, move forward, and do it all again. The game is strictly linear - you go from point A to point B, and the only time points C, D, and E exist is when they are directly in-between A and B. There's no need to overthink anything, you don't need to devote any time to planning a strategy or figuring out how solve puzzles; the most complex decision you'll ever come across will be whether you want to carry this gun, or that one. Please don't misunderstand me - there is a time and a place for more robust gameplay mechanics, and countless fantastic games use them. But Gears of War just wants to watch stuff blow up, and every once in a while that's the kind of game I need.

  • Luckily, Gears of War knows this about itself and consequently does not overstay its welcome. Shallow games are fun. That, in fact, is all they're meant to be. But they can get tedious - and, subsequently, not fun. Gears of War can be finished in a few sittings - the campaign is no more than 7-8 hours from start to finish. Finishing this game was satisfying not only because of the intrinsic satisfaction one gets from finishing a game, but because I felt like it needed to finish exactly when it did. The designers recognized the game's inherent faults and didn't try to cover them up and milk the gamer for every last second of play; rather, the game bows out humbly when it's right at the peak of its entertainment value. It's the difference between going to a buffet, eating just enough and walking away from a meal with a full stomach, and overeating and feeling like the restaurant not only overcharged you, but robbed you of being comfortable for the next couple hours.

  • The gameplay mechanics are, like much of the rest of the game, simple but effective. Unlike other military shooters, you need to spend a lot of time in cover, taking care to pop out only at opportune times. Enemies too use this tactic, and because you are fragile and can't take too much damage, gunfights in Gears of War tend to be much more methodical and delicate affairs than in other games. Even though the overall pace of the game tends to be fast, there will be several battles that require you to slow down, take your time, and be patient. It's an interesting dynamic that works well to balance out the flow of the game and keep it interesting.

  • The controls are, mostly, excellent. Running, moving to cover, moving out of cover, and jumping-and-rolling all are done with the same button. The gunplay is similar to most other third- (and first-) person shooters. The only minor complaint (which I might as well mention here as long as I'm on the topic) is that sometimes actually getting your character into cover can be tricky in the more intense situations, since you have to be facing the object you want to hide behind. If you're running parallel to a low barrier on your right, for example, it's all too easy to jump-and-roll forward instead of getting down and hidden behind the barrier. There were a few instances where this kind of thing happened and resulted in my death, but they were too infrequent to complain too loudly about and for the most part the controls are very fluid and responsive.

  • The voice-acting is especially great - protagonist Marcus Fenix's voice just fits his character so well and really helps to define his personality. Given the almost complete lack of any kind of backstory or other character development (see below), this is a welcome and noteworthy feature. All the other main characters are also memorably voiced. There are several instances of dialogue that is humorous not only because of the writing, but because of the convincing way it is actually spoken. The voice acting rarely sounds scripted or forced, and this goes a long way towards immersing the gamer, which unfortunately the components like storytelling or character development (the components that should be carrying this weight) largely fail to do.

  • At least on the Hardcore difficulty setting (which is equivalent to "Hard" in any other game), the game provides a healthy challenge. I feel that this is a very important factor - I don't like to feel like I'm dominating the game with little effort, nor do I like being relentlessly destroyed over and over. I died many times, but I never felt like it was unfair. In pretty much every circumstance I knew that I had died because of my own stupidity or lack of foresight, not because the AI was simply overpowered. This resulted in a very low level of frustration throughout the game, even when I had to retry segments again and again. There's something delicately psychological about that, and striking that balance can make all the difference between feeling like (a) you won the game because the computer didn't try, (b) you won the game because you chipped away at it until there was nothing left to chip away at, and (c) you won the game because you learned how to adapt to it and outsmart it. I much prefer (c), and I felt like this game definitely gave me that particular satisfaction I crave.

  • The game's graphics are gorgeous. Although the settings don't vary too much, they look fantastic - the crumbling buildings, the overcast skies, the rocky looks very much like you are in the middle of a dilapidated war zone and the gritty world lends itself to the overall feel of the game very well. Similarly, the cinematics can be breathtaking - although better things were to come in this series' future, several of the cinematic breaks feel like scenes from an A-list blockbuster movie. Take that how you will, but I mean it as a compliment.

**The Bad**
  • This game did a lot of things right; it also did a couple things wrong, or, at least, there were things it could have done better. Take, for instance, the story and characterization, or lack thereof. The game starts with the main character Marcus being broken out of a prison cell, given a soldier's uniform and gun, after which the basic training begins. This is fine; no explanation is given as to why he was there, or where he is, or who he is, but as modern gamers I think we've come to expect this. It'll all be filled in later, we say, let's just learn how to play for now and expect story afterwards. Flash forward eight hours: you've just beat the game, watched the closing cinematic, and you still don't really know anything about Marcus's history, the history of the war you are apparently engaged in, and man, if you're still wondering about why Marcus was in prison eight hours ago, well, you'll just have to look it up on Wikipedia. This, unfortunately, is not an exaggeration. You are shuttled from one objective to the next with either no or very minimal explanation. The game seems to expect the gamer to infer just about every major story detail; this can be a compelling way to flesh out a story, but when the primary vehicle for communicating the story to the gamer is through inference, this is a problem, and you're going to have a lot of very lost gamers.

    The sad thing about this is that the story, quite frankly, seems awesome. At least, by the end of the game, I thought it seemed awesome, but didn't really have enough information to tell. There's so much going on, so much that the designers could have done with this. For example, a common storytelling device in recent years has been to reveal backstory by having the player pick up objects scattered around the environment, like recordings or writings in journal pages, which help explain exactly what is going on (see: BioShock, Dead Space). It's a cliche mechanic but it works great. Although this game's successor did catch on and add this kind of thing into the gameplay, it's a shame it wasn't implemented in this game as well, because this is the one that really needed it. There's so much I want to know, and so much that the game should have revealed to me, but didn't.

  • On a more technical note, the game's AI is not particularly smart. Enemies tend to duck behind cover, pop out, duck, pop out, run across to another piece of cover even though you are shooting at them, repeat. To be fair, as the player I did pretty much exactly the same thing, but I still felt that the enemies were really lacking in creativity. Very few, for example, used grenades, and when they did their aim was horrible. If the AI had known how to use them properly, they could have thrown the grenades behind wherever I was hiding to flush me out and then started shooting at me as I ran to find more cover. As it stands, sitting in the same place for an entire gunfight and picking off enemies as they pop out of cover is a pretty effective strategy, and although there are times when this doesn't always work, this was my main tactic and it tended to get me from one objective to the next without much hassle.

**The Bottom Line**
It might look impressive, that list of seven good things vs. the measly two negatives I was able to list. But make no mistake, I feel very strongly about those two bad things. When you have so much potential story material to work with, you should use it. It's a shame that this game's full potential wasn't realized, but sometimes that's just the way of things, and luckily with Gears of War, so many other things were done right that it's still possible to thoroughly enjoy every second of this game, even if your brain isn't being creatively stimulated.

It is, when all is said and done, one of those quick-fix action games that will come in handy to have when you're between the Skyrims, the Fallout 3s, the Final Fantasys of the gaming world. It's not deep, it has very little actual substance, but holy crap is it fun. While I wouldn't go so far as to call it mindless, it's easy to just kind of halfway tune out when you play this and have that transient fun that these kinds of games are all about. Sometimes, as gamers, we needs breaks like this, and if you're ever in need of one, Gears of War is one of the best options you have.

Xbox 360 · by CrackTheSky (30) · 2012

Gears of War is one of those games that no matter what your genre prefrence is, you have to pick it up.

The Good
Aweomsly delicous graphics

Stellar Gameplay

Online Co-op

Great Multiplayer

The Bad
Multiplayer can get reptative

Lack of multiplayer gametypes

The Bottom Line
So it’s happened, Gears of War has finally been released. Ever since Epic Games announced it back at E3 ’05 gamers across the globe have had their jaws open to its Unreal 3 powered graphics and intense gameplay. Everyone anticipated ‘Emergence Day’, as GoW’s release date was dubbed, and now that it has arrived, does it live up to the hype?

Gears of War takes place somewhere in the far future on a fictional planet known as Sera. Humans have been at war with each other for decades over an energy source known as Imulsion. Their civil war is put to a halt though, as an army of creatures known as the Locust Horde emerge from the ground and attack unsuspecting human colonies for a reason that is not known. The new alien threat has forced the humans to put their differences aside and join together to form the army known as the Coalition of Ordered Governments, otherwise known as the COG. This act of banning together didn’t help much though, as the entire planet has been desecrated by the Locust Horde. So it looks like you need to be the one to save the day.

You play the role of Marcus Fenix, and you’re stuck in prison under the charge of treason. The story goes that Marcus left his military post to rescue his father who was under siege by the Locusts. Marcus ultimately failed though, for his father died, and he was thrown in military prison. This is a part of the game that could’ve been touched up on a little more. The only place to find this background information is in the instruction manual, and really, who reads that? Anyway, Marcus was in prison for 14 years, until his best friend Dom busts him out of jail and enlists him as a member of Delta Squad, which is where the game begins.

Upon the arrival to the battlefield, you’re told your orders are to meet up with Alpha Squad who are in possession of a device that can supposedly change the tide of war. The device is known as the resonator, and once it’s planted underground, it will then map out all of the Locust tunnels. With the knowledge of where the Locust Horde’s colony is, all that’s left to do is send a few friendly warheads their way, although it’s always easier said than done. Luckily you have Delta Squad to help out. Delta’s a 4 man group of bad-ass soldiers who wear ridiculously bulky armor and feel no need to wear a helmet. Think Chaos Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000.

Gears of War’s gameplay is strictly stop-and-pop, if you run-and-gun, you’re just going to get yourself killed, and fast. Because of this, there are multiple objects to plant yourself behind. Taking cover is as easy as tapping the A button when near a wall or barrier. While taking cover, you have multiple options on how to proceed, each having its own advantages and disadvantages. You can pop-up and fire leaving your head exposed to the enemy, hold your gun out and blind fire sacrificing accuracy for protection, or maybe you don’t want to fight head-on into the Locust, in which case you can flank your enemy and slaughter them that way. It all comes down to the situation and how you want to handle it. Moving from cover to cover is easy as well. Holding down the A button will make your character drop into painful looking position and sprint. While sprinting you won’t be able to use your weapon, but in times of retreat, the roadie-run can be your best friend.

If your opponent’s gunfire won’t scare you into taking cover, maybe his appearance will. The Locust Horde is filled with about 6 or 7 different types of enemies. The most often encountered being the Grunt, who is built like a human with the skin of a lizard. You’ll run into different types of Grunts, mainly recognized by their choice of weapons. Some carry the standard Lancer rifle every COG soldier uses, others will carry the equivalent to the shotgun, and the most menacing wielding the Torque Bow. One Locust in particular will have you on edge every time, though it’s only encountered a few times. The Berserker is a monstrous beast towering about 14 feet high. It may be blind, but it has the hearing of 1000 humans. If you make the slightest noise, it’ll charge like a bull in your direction, trample your body, and then pound you with its fists.

Some Locusts, such as the Berserker, will only be killed by a specific weapon. This weapon, known as the “Hammer of Dawn”, paints an object with a laser and sends a message to a satellite in space. The satellite then shoots a beam of energy down to Sera and into the target. The Hammer can’t be used all the time though, the player has to be in open sky, and even then, the satellites have to be on the same side of the planet.

Battles in GoW can get pretty heated. You’ll find yourself thinking less and less and actually doing more and more. For example, GoW has an ingenious and simple feature called active reload. Whenever you reload and little bar will appear on the top right corner of your screen indicating how long until your reload is finished. But inside this bar are two meters. After hitting the reload button again inside the first meter you get a fast reload. The second meter is located inside the larger one, which makes this a pretty small target to look for. When you hit the reload button in this meter you get a fast reload along with a power boost that will give your bullets more damage. If you miss both meters your gun will jam, hindering it useless for about three or four seconds. Active reload won’t take you long to master, but it’s a very well-implemented feature that gets a thumbs up.

With all the insane action going on you’re lucky to have Delta Squad along for the ride. Unfortunately they’re not the sharpest tools in the shed. Stupid? Defiantly not. Smart? Meh. You’ll mainly use them as a distraction to cover-up your flanking maneuvers. They’ll drop a lot, but Gears of War has a feature that will incapacitate your teammates instead of killing them……that is, if they weren’t chainsawed or blown apart by a grenade. Squadmates can be revived by hitting the X button when next to them. Although if you don’t want to risk your own skin to save them, you can simply clean out the remaining Locust and your teammate will get back up.

Like all Xbox 360 games, Gears of War has unlockable achievements spread throughout its gameplay. Some are easy to get, others will take you while. Beating areas on singleplayer, making progress through your multiplayer game, and playing cooperatively are all ways you can get those precious points.

Overall Gears of War’s single-player is pretty well done. The gameplay is solid, but the story is something to be desired. Two difficulty modes are supported, with a third unlocked after beating the game. GoW will take you somewhere between 9 and 10 hours to complete and is split up into 5 chapters. You’ll start the singleplayer to learn how to play the game, but you’ll finish it wanting more.

With the singleplayer aside, I can start to talk about the area where Gears of War really shines, multiplayer. You have two types of multiplayer you can get into, both Xbox Live aware. There’s cooperative mode and your competitive versus mode. Cooperative puts you and your buddy, who will be playing as Dom, into the singeplayer game. All chapters are available as well as the difficulties you or your buddy has unlocked. This allows for a dynamic duo experience.

In the versus aspect of the multiplayer you have three gametypes to choose from, Assassination, Execution, and Warzone. This is another area where you really think a little more thought could have been put into. At first you’ll be satisfied with the three gametypes, but then you’ll only really play Warzone. After you pour your time into that you’ll get bored, which really takes away from game’s lasting appeal. All gametypes support a max of 8 players. To some this seems a little small, but once you start to play the game, you’ll understand that Gears of War is all about squad based tactics, from the singleplayer to the multiplayer.

Assassination places one member from each team as the leader. In order for one team to win, they have to kill the opposing team’s leader. Execution takes GoW’s incapacitation feature and implements it into the multiplayer. When someone is incapacitated, they can pound the A button to revive themselves. In order to kill someone in Execution you have to literally execute them, whether with your pistol or with a satisfying curb stomp. Warzone, which is where you’ll spend most of your hours, is the standard Team Deathmatch gameplay, putting two teams against each other with every player only having one life.

The hype machine called Gears of War is one of those games, that no matter what your genre preference is, you have to play it, from its gorgeous graphics and textures, to its awesome and intense action. The story seemed like it could have been put into overdrive a little more, but where it lacks in singleplayer it makes up in multiplayer. There’s nothing more satisfying than playing along side a friend against the Locust Horde, or curb stomping a downed opponent in Warzone. There haven’t been too many killer apps for the 360, so go do yourself a favor and pick up this game up.

Xbox 360 · by Sam LaSelva (9) · 2006

Action packed all the way.

The Good
I liked the constant action of this game. I also liked some of the characters in this game, and of course the weapons of this game. Incredible presentation and enormous attention to detail, make this game a must have for any gamer.

The Bad
This game was very, very hard. So hard that at times you find yourself wanting to pick up your game system and throw it out the window that's how hard this game is. However a good challenge isn't alway's a bad thing, however when you have enemies that take an hour to kill, that's a bit ridiculous.

The Bottom Line
A game that almost anyone will enjoy, but be warned it's a very hard game. And takes some getting used to, and quite a bit of patience and quite a bit of practice.

Xbox 360 · by David Bryan (21) · 2007

Definitely On Par With Halo!

The Good
The main thing I love about this game is the atmosphere! From the musical score to the intense sound of bullets whizzing past your head, you feel as if you are actually part of the war. It's been a very long time since I've played a game and actually felt a part of it. The controls are perfect as they are basic so you don't get frustrated trying to remember what button does what when you are already worrying about that incoming Berzerker! Even though the controls are basic, you can pull off some snazzy moves like Blind fire, covering behind objects, aiming and running for more cover. Oh and the graphics...DROOL

Also, it's been a very long time since I've played a game which you don't mind been killed on! I was stuck on a few areas for quite a while and I had a smile on my face every time I died, it's just so much fun to play!

The Bad
I can honestly say that there is nothing I hate about this game! When I first picked up the controller and entered the Gears Of War world for the first time, my immediate thoughts was "This is a bloody hard game!". But as you play on, you start to love it and you feel the difficulty is spot on!

The Bottom Line
If you're after a game which is just as much fun to play as Halo, this is the game for you. It's not exactly like Halo because these are two different games but in my opinion, Gears Of War is more playable and atmospheric than Halo. Halo 3 had better be good to top Gears Of War!

Xbox 360 · by Reaver (1732) · 2006

You don't know how much you need a chainsaw until you've played this.

The Good
The background: humanity has been fighting itself for more than 3 generation's over emulsion, a new hyper fuel that solves the energy problem's of the human world of Sera. But one eventful day, forever known as emergence day (E-day), the rival nation's of Sera are forced together by a nightmare that has sprung up from beneath the surface to bring the human race to it's the brink of extinction, turning Sera into a living hell, and it's your job, freshly sprung from prison due to a dwindling army, to keep humanity going and cripple the Locust Horde....

It is this back story that gives rise to a one of the bloodiest games that is not for the faint hearted. It is this back story that has given rise to one of the greatest potential story's ever, and while it does not have the greatest in game story line ever, you can sense the potential throughout the game.

Add to that, the delta squad, who you fight with through gear's feel very believable. Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago, the most loyal of comrades and friends. And backing them up, the sarcastic but slightly abrasive tech head Damon Baird and the ever boisterous and cheerful Augustus 'cole train' Cole. They are the team you like to like.

Whilst fighting through the game with delta squad you will no doubt come to enjoy the Lancer assault rifle. What makes it so unique is it's chainsaw bayonet. It may sound crude, and, well it is. But unlike a lot of weapons in other games, it's distinct and surprisingly fun to use.

And while using the Lancer, you come across another thing that makes gear's such a stand out hit. Almost insane amount's of blood and gore. In a world of political correctness, this makes a change from games that really don't push the envelope that much. But that said, it is not recommended that you use it too much, with is a good thing, because in this you discover one of the other great's of gear's in it's cover system. In other games, you don't need it. in gear's you do. Luckily, using cover is a very smooth and easy to use process.

The Bad
Whilst gear's does have a decent story to it's name, you get the feeling it could be much better.

Multiplayer wise the only problem would be that it lack's any bots for when your game number's are a little low.

Graphic's could of also used a little bit more polish, especially the lighting.

The Bottom Line
A word of caution, you could potentially turn into a vegetarian as a result of this game....

Xbox 360 · by Starbuck the Third (22650) · 2010

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Yearman, Big John WV, Corn Popper, Sciere, Wizo, chirinea, Numphie, Alsy, Flu, Kabushi, Jeanne, Tim Janssen, COBRA-COBRETTI, Diwrnach, Alaka, Evil Ryu, Unicorn Lynx, Jacob Gens, Cavalary, Patrick Bregger, phorque, Indra was here, beetle120, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy), SupSuper.