Developer: Epic Games
Release Date: 11/7/2007
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I still remember Gears of War when I got my Xbox 360 on Christmas of 2006. It changed the way I thought about games forever and is why it is the only game I ever gave a 10. The game was perfect at the time and I couldn’t really find anything wrong with it. I also remember the game being almost a complete failure early in development and seeing glimpses of shoddy gameplay footage on TV during E3 2004. The classic hit comes to PC with some enhancements that are great for newcomers and enough for fans to come back for another run (or 3).
I’ll review this all over again for people who are unfamiliar (PC only gamers). You play as Marcus Fenix in Delta Squad who are sent on a mission to deliver a light mass bomb deep under the planet Sera to destroy the Locust horde that is trying to kill all of the humanity. This sounds like a typical sci-fi B grade, but this is one of my favorite gaming stories of all time because of the characters, sheer terror, and hopelessness humans go through to rid of this vicious species. Gears of War may seem like a manly shooter on the outside, but inside there is a deep and complex story (just pick up the four books and you will truly see) that tests and trains every human to fight for survival.
Despite the excellent story and memorable characters, there is a great underlying gameplay system here. Slamming against cover, shooting awesome weapons, and killing interesting enemies that were never seen before is quite awesome. Locust isn’t just bugs or aliens, but they feel like entities that you should run away from and have nightmares about. It takes half a clip to take these guys down and they shoot back with good AI (excellent at the time, good for today’s standards). During the time the AI was unrivaled because the Locust would flank you and act smart instead of just standing there getting a shot at.
The weapons are memorable such as the infamous Lancer with the chainsaw bayonet. Slicing through an enemy and watching blood splatter on the screen is just awesome and never gets old (even if you played the last two Gears). The Longshot is a powerful bolt-action sniper rifle, the Hammerburst is the Locust assault rifle, the Boomshot, Snub pistol, Boltok revolver, and Gnasher shotgun are some of the greatest weapons ever made and they are infamous for a reason. The enemies vary greatly and some can’t even be taken down with guns. The Hammer of Dawn is used to take down the Berserkers who run at you and must be dodged during three different scenes in the game. The Corpsers are huge spider-like enemies that can only be taken down in the same manner and jam communications. The list goes on, but each enemy has to be taken on in completely different ways and most shooters can’t do that.
The campaign is well paced with lots of different scenarios such as avoiding the deadly Kryll at night while shooting tanks to stay in the light. There are turret sections, but sadly no helicopter sections which this game is dying for. There are epic boss fights, but overall the campaign is perfectly paced with varied environments from outdoors to indoors. All of this combined equals one sweet package that 90% of shooters can’t accomplish in one game.
The multiplayer is fun if this is your thing. Gears of War multiplayer is a lot different from most because it’s tactical and close quarters. 6-on-6 is tough and you will die quickly against vets because the game requires a lot of rolling, dodging, and quick trigger fingers, but the modes are fun like Execution and Wingman. Sadly, not many people play Gears 1 online anymore so you will rarely find people playing. There is even a co-op mode for the campaign which is a blast, but good luck getting anyone to play online.
For the PC we get updated visuals with DirectX 10 lighting, some higher resolution textures, and the best part, 5 all-new chapters that were cut from the Xbox 360 version. If you did play that version remember after leaving the Fenix mansion a Brumak comes after you and you jump into an APC and escape? Stuff happened after that and between arriving at the train station. Delta Squad gets stuck at a lifted bridge and needs to find a way to power it so they can head to the train platform. This is also where you take on that Brumak that followed you and is probably the best 5 chapters in the whole game. I’m sad Xbox 360 owners had to miss out on this epic piece of Gears, but PC gamers will be pleased. There are also three additional COG tags so watch out if you want those achievements!
Gears of War is worth a re-purchase for vets or for newcomers because this is a piece of video game history that can’t be missed by any shooter fan. Why do I not give this a 10 then? The game has shown its age like the dated graphics. Sure they still look great, but the lower resolution textures, weaker lighting effects, and slightly sloppy animations show compared to the new Gears games. Most people will overlook this, but the game also does feel repetitive after a while no matter how you slice it. You’re just running around shooting Grubs right? I feel it needed some more vehicle sections, and well…it was all fixed in Gears 2 and 3, but that’s beside the point.