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Gears of War

Gears of War
Website: Official Game Site
Estimated Street Price: $49.99/£49.99
Review By:
Byron Hinson

The Features

Gears of War is one of those titles that has been hyped and hyped again. Firstly we all know how great the graphics are supposed to be, how good the co-op multiplayer and single player games are going to be, how fantastic the Dolby 5.1 surround sound is going to be, but the real question is, has it lived up to any of the hype?

Blending tactical action with survival horror, Gears of War is the first game developed by Epic Games exclusively for Xbox 360. An intense third-person tactical shooter, it thrusts gamers into a deep and harrowing story of humankind’s epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet.

Within this frightening fiction, players live and breathe the role of Marcus Fenix. A disgraced former war hero, Marcus seeks personal redemption as he leads his fire team against an onslaught of merciless warrior Locust - offering an experience so intensely emotional and gut-wrenching that playing will be like controlling a blockbuster action movie.

Gears of War utilises the breathtaking new Unreal Engine 3 to create cinematic, high-definition visuals for a gaming experience that truly ushers in the next generation. Gamers will experience beautifully rendered interactive environments and characters so lifelike they appear to be made of flesh and bone. The next-generation visuals create a world in which the tiniest detail is vivid in the largest battle.

The planet lies in ruin - Cities crumbling, man’s greatest works fallen. Humanity is cornered, nowhere to run. The Locust Horde has risen, and they won’t stop coming. They won’t stop killing. The Coalition is desperate for soldiers. The sick, the wounded, the imprisoned are all that remain. An inmate named Marcus Fenix, once left to die, is now charged with keeping humanity alive. He can take comfort in but one fact: The human race isn’t extinct. Yet.

·         Take cover and return fire: Use the intuitive one-button cover system to blind fire, evade, flank, and ultimately eradicate the nightmarish Locust Horde.

·         Tactical team action: Lead your ragtag squad as Marcus Fenix, or recruit a friend to play squadmate Dominic Santiago and complete the full cinematic campaign co-operatively - online or off.

·         Multiplayer Mayhem: Human vs. Locust squad-based multiplayer. Eliminate downed enemies with a kick to the head or a taste of your chainsaw bayonet.

·         Engaging and disturbing cinematic story: Massive worlds, memorable characters and an epic storyline play out like an intense and unsettling Hollywood blockbuster. Movie-like cutscenes, cinematic camera moves and in-game storytelling bring the brutal, emotionally charged narrative to life. Gamers control Marcus Fenix and his fire team as they pit advanced human technology against the overwhelming and horrific Locust Horde.

·         Fire team co-op action: All game modes, levels and scenarios are designed for co-operative fire team play with A.I. or human companions. For the first time, A.I. teammates are indiscernible from human players; moving intelligently, taking orders effectively, seeking cover and defending themselves when necessary. Gears of War truly offers a richer co-operative experience than ever, with voice recognition and real-time lip-syncing heightening the immersion.

·         Unprecedented next-gen visuals: Gears of War uses the Unreal Engine 3 to usher in the next generation with standard-setting high-definition visuals, bringing out the smallest details in the largest battle. Characters come to life with unbelievable model quality and a physics-integrated animation system that has them truly reacting intelligently to events as they unfold around them.

·         Hyper-realistic and intense combat: In Gears of War the battlefield is a lethal place - to foolishly stand out in the open is to die. To survive, gamers can create and take cover using interactive and dynamic environments, suppress the enemy with blindfire, and use their weapons and teammates to outwit and outfight their terrifying foes.

·         Next-generation Xbox Live action: Gears of War will embody the next-generation Xbox Live experience and extend it even further. Gamers will be able to experience individualised matchmaking, view statistics, earn achievements, customise their games, plus build and personalise their gamer profiles.

How Does It Play

Review Quotes
"The main mode you play in is called Warzone which is really just a four on four deathmatch, but there are two different variations on this mode called Execution in which you have to finish opponents off up close with a melee attack, a bullet to the head or through the chainsaw. The other one is called Assassination in which the game is one by killing off the other teams Captain."

Well no game ever does live up to the hype and Gears of War is no exception, although it does come very close indeed.  First let’s get the graphics out of the way; everyone has been on about how great they have been over the past year, so how good do they look? Well without doubt it’s the best looking game on the Xbox 360 by a long shot, performance is generally excellent throughout, although some of the cutscenes suffer from frame rate drops which is a shame.  The amount of detail and some of the art direction in Gears of War is fantastic and it is ahead of anything that is out right now on either the 360 or the Playstation 3. The only let down apart from the frame rate drop is how gray everything is once again in a first person shooter, just a bit more colour would have been nice, but in saying that there are some variations on the look of the game in the video settings, I set it to vibrant where it brightens some colours up a little.

The single player game can be played in co-op mode which is excellent news and even better is the fact that the single player game is actually a lot of fun to play. Gears of War certainly doesn’t do anything new at all in the genre, but it does do everything well. The firefights you take part in are both strategic and atmospheric, especially with some of the excellent Dolby 5.1 sound that Epic has put in to the game, you really feel as if you are in the middle of a battle ground.

One disappointment I had was with the enemies, not in AI terms as they do very well in most of the difficulty levels, it was down to the fact that most of the enemies look the same; it would have been nice to have had a bit more variety of people to take down as the game is played. Yes, there are different looking enemies as the game goes on, but facing the same looking Locusts over and over is a shame. Some variations on the basic enemies would have been great.

As I made mention of earlier, the single player game can be played in co-op mode over Xbox Live! This is great and you get a real buzz playing it with a friend. One of you takes control of the main character Marcus Fenix while the other person gets to play as squadmate Dominic Santiago. The gameplay fits this kind of setup perfectly, especially when some of the levels split in two so you both have to go separate routes, even better is seeing your partner fighting the hoards through cracks in the walls.
The game really comes into its own when you play online in the versus mode, it is fun, addictive, yet it isn’t as large scale as many other shooters. You only have Team Deathmatch and last man standing with four players per team. While some users will moan about this, it works perfectly as do the levels. The maps are very well designed and are all based around areas you play through in the single player game. Just like in the single player game, you have the same weapons, including the chainsaw, sniper rifle and Hammers of Dawn which are located around the map.

The main mode you play in is called Warzone which is really just a four on four deathmatch, but there are two different variations on this mode called Execution in which you have to finish opponents off up close with a melee attack, a bullet to the head or through the chainsaw. The other one is called Assassination in which the game is one by killing off the other teams Captain.

The only disappointing thing here is that there isn’t a great deal of variety in the games multiplayer modes. It would have been good to see something like Capture the flag as an option. In saying that though, what we have here is a very good and well put together multiplayer game.

Final Comments

Byron's Gamertag

For a game that has been hyped up so much, it is good to finally see it up and running with us able to judge it on what is in front of us. It’s nearly all good news and Epic has done a great in not only creating the best looking game ever, but also creating a very solid shooter.


How It Grades
Controls: 91%
Gameplay: 89%
Presentation: 92%
Graphics: 96%
Multiplayer: 92%
Sound: 91%
Interface: 92%
Lastability: 90%
Price/Value: 90%
Overall: 92%
Specs & Package
Overall Score 92%
Version Reviewed Gears of War (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Gears of War DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Best Graphics Ever
Good multiplayer
Fun single player game
The Bad Points Short single player game
Nothing really new
Xbox Live! Online Play Enabled? Yes
Widescreen Support Yes
PAL 60 Support (Europe) Yes
HD Resolutions 480p

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