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Posted on Nov 27, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Gears of War – Game Review (XBox 360)

By Jamison Lanum

Passed Inspection: Varying gameplay. Incredible co-op mode that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

Failed Basic: Limited multi-player modes. Unoriginal story with over-the-top acting. Small arsenal of weapons.

Since its thirty-second trailer debut at the 2005 E3, Gears of War has generated an incredible amount of hype—only comparable to the attention that the game those guys over at Bungie put together. Make no mistake the term “Halo Killer” is a misconceived notion due to the fact that Gears of War is a radically different game. It deserves, and will no doubt acquire its own identity, and possibly turn this incredible hype machine into another household name known even by non-gamers.

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Covering Fire When in doubt, empty your magazine

One thing that easily separates Gears of War from the typical shooter is its use of the cover mechanic. Many games have used taking cover as one of their core mechanics, but it has never been executed as well as it has in Gears. It will take approximately a half-hour to get a true feel for the game. Finally, players will see Marcus slipping, slamming, and roadie-running all around the beautiful levels that Epic so eloquently created. While taking cover Marcus can issue commands: Cease Fire, Open Fire, and Regroup. The first two are entirely useless because there isn’t a single point in the game where they’re needed. Regroup is useful when your comrades decide to play stupid and stay back within a certain area, impeding your progress.

However that’s just about as bad as the AI gets, including the players’ squad mates and his/her enemies. On Casual difficulty, the Locust Horde will do less shooting than moving, and once into cover players can pop up for 8-10 seconds before being forced to retreat by the red Gears symbol—a damage model similar to that of Call of Duty. On Insane players have three seconds at the max to pop up and tear into the Horde before being forced to retreat.

Something new that the game introduces is its active reload system. Tapping a button starts the reloading process and then tapping it again when the sliding bar crosses either a light grey or solid white area allows a successful reload with the former granting a significant damage bonus. Timing is everything and after awhile it’s easy to get into a rhythm, but if players fail the gun jams and it takes twice as long for Marcus to reload.

If the single-player could be summed-up in just a few words, a good candidate would be, “Oh my God.” This describes the sheer number of memorable moments during the campaign. From the first time players are hunted by a Berserker-which will send shivers up some spines- to battling it out with the Corpser, these moments will leave distinct impressions upon players and not only that, they also vary the gameplay creating one of the best gaming experiences that has been offered in awhile. This doesn’t go without saying the single-player campaign has its flaws.

Although interesting the story is unoriginal. It takes place on Serra; an Earth-like planet that is knee deep in a world war over the energy resource immulsion. At the climax of the Pendulum war a new foe emerges from the planet’s core and the people are forced to unite. The Locust Horde is a hideous group of monsters that can pop up through the ground from anywhere on Serra’s surface except the Jacinto Plateau, where most of the survivors of E-Day sought refuge. Players take on the role of Marcus Fenix, a dishonored soldier who looks like an over the top bad guy with a voice over to match. As the leader of Delta Squad players are faced with the task of getting a super bomb that is supposed to turn the tide of the war. Fortunately, players have other firepower options besides a high-tech alien version of the atom bomb.

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