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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

Delta Squad It’s up to these guys to save humanity

There are truly only two unique weapons in the game aside from the standard assault rifles. The Hammer of Dawn is an Immulsion-energized satellite particle-beam weapon used for all of the big baddies in the game. It’s as simple as point, click, and a huge beam of energy comes shooting down from the sky obliterating whatever is in its path. Sadly, the use of it is limited as players have to be outside with just the proper amount of alignment with orbiting satellites. The Torque Bow is found in the later stages of the game and has limited ammo capacity. It’s just like using a crossbow, but the darts detonate once they penetrate an enemy. But why get all fancy when plain-Jane guns will do just fine? Enter the Lancer, a modern day assault rifle with a chainsaw that acts as a futuristic bayonet. Even mastered, it can be slightly difficult to use because players must hold B down before coming within certain proximity of the enemy; and mastery is what should be achieved if players wish to bring their game to the multi-player arena.

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Although lacking in customization options, standard game modes, and maps; the multi-player experience is still great. Co-op, whether online or off is great fun. Being able to cover each other and have someone that is smarter than the AI is a real plus. There are only three multi-player modes and each are just variations of the other. Warzone is the every day deathmatch pitting one Human fire team against one Locust fire team. Players get one life and the game is won by eliminating all of the opposing team’s players. In Execution opponents can only die from a close range special kill—whether it’s by the chainsaw or a good ol’ fashioned curb stomp. Pressing A allows players to revive themselves during this mode. A leader for each team is designated in Assassination mode and the only way to win is to kill them. It is disappointing that there are only three modes of play and even more so when one realizes the paltry customization options. The three provided are fun and will have to do until Epic releases some downloadable content. Most matches over Xbox Live were lag free but the matchmaking service did have trouble connecting with a significant number of players.

Locust Closeup Locust are ugly

The game is marketed as “destroyed beauty,” and that’s exactly what it is. Whether it’s fighting in a dilapidated mansion or fighting in some of the best looking rain effects in the history of gaming, Gears definitely delivers in the graphics department. The cinematics are great, and every animation is smooth and life-like the including facial expressions. Objects never load late and the highly detailed COG uniforms and the varied Locust models only add to the realism! A small graphical bug on Xbox Live causes uniforms to occasionally not immediately render during online co-op play but rarely lasts more than several seconds.

With such a polished and high quality game it was surprising that the audio landed in the acceptable range. The voice overs are way over the top and while the score is good it’s not very memorable. Just about every cliché in the book is found in Gears, but all-in-all the audio department did an ok job.

Despite its minor flaws, Gears of War will leave an impression on players every time they put down the controller. No, the gameplay isn’t revolutionary, but it is well executed and is one of the most polished games in recent years. Everything comes together perfectly, creating an incredible game that will—along with the help of the chainsaw—leave a lasting memory in the minds of many gamers.

Armchair General Score: 96%

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