26 July, 2013

Review: Gears of War

written by Blain Newport on Friday, 26 July 2013

Gears of War (3 of 5)

Gears of War is one of the last big budget console exclusive franchises.  So when I got a 360 I was looking forward to trying it out.  I'm not super into the first installment.  It's got a lot of well made parts, but none of it grabbed me.

The game and I definitely got off on the wrong foot because of it's damage indicator.  There's a transparent red gear in the middle of the screen that fills up as you take damage.  And while it's nice because it doesn't completely obscure vision and can be used as a reticule for blind firing, it's also transparent enough I had no idea when I was in real danger early on.  I'd just keel over dead and not understand what I did wrong.

Gears is known as a showpiece.  It was made by Epic Games, who's Unreal engine powers a ridiculous amount of games.  And since they make the engine, they are the first to get all the fancy new features and make their own games look the best.  But Gears is also old, so I was probably expecting too much.  It looks okay but not at all impressive at this point.

I hear people talk about the squad mates in Gears.  I guess those characters get developed in the sequels because outside of one of them being a former sports star there wasn't much to latch on to in the first game.  It's even worse because the squad is designated Delta, the same as in Star Wars: Republic Commando.  That game remains the gold standard for fun AI companions in gaming and no other game I've played has come close.  (Maybe Half-Life 2: Episode 2 on my first play through.  But Delta Squad is still awesome, and Alyx didn't hold up to repeat playings for me.)

To sum up, Gears wasn't bad.  But it couldn't live up to the hype. I'll see how much the sequels manage to improve on the formula.

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