Hype. Hype is a piece of the media that we never want to admit to ourselves, or anyone for that matter, we let get the best of us. After all, how many times has the hype for something become so huge that it turned out to be a real bummer once you finally played it? When message boards started rambling in 2005 about a game coming from Microsoft Studios (made by Epic) entitled Gears of War, a small look into Microsoft's history of product release, would easily entail a game that would take forever to actually hit the store shelves. So low and behold the shock when Gears of War hit store shelves in November of this year. Taking over a year to make and amid numerous delays, would this spell a sign of things to come for Gears of War?
The story of this game goes something along the lines of this. Mankind has been invaded by a subterranean race of monsters simply known as The Locust Horde. Reading around, I've heard that there is a further story, but that wasn't obviously important as Microsoft decided not to let us know anything about it. Anyhow, we quickly realize that you shouldn't expect to get a lot of answers from this game. Instead, and probably the point of Microsoft, we get tons of big, gooey looking monsters that just want us to destroy and blow them to smithereens.
I'll immediately tell all of you that I'm not the biggest game player that I use to be. I use to be the biggest player in the world, devoting tons of my time to games. Having not really played many games this year, except this one, I can't really compare Gears of War to anything else. I will say that the gameplay is amazing. Each mission plays like a battlefield with a few puzzles that require the player to actually think before pushing the analog forward. This isn't a game that you just hold down a button shooting everything in front of you. Granted there are moments where this occurs, but there was more of a style to the killing resulting in many impressive sequences.
If you have played a few games similar to this, the learning curve for Gears of War is probably a 20-30 minute curve. Naturally you'll die a ton of times during these 20-30 minutes causing you to curse and declare the game is too hard. If you spend the time getting into the game, you'll quickly realize that the best portions of the game are yet to come (including the awesome "active reload" system that is just so cool to watch).
Sigh. Why is it that all big, action games all suffer from the same exact problem? The single-player missions in Gears of War are not plentiful enough. Despite a majority of the missions containing tons of fun, I found the actual game rather short (a huge problem with Perfect Dark Zero). This is, honestly now, the only real negative of this game. It's not the biggest negative, but does take away from the game's replay value.
Gears of War was a fun, thrilling game throughout. The missions provided enough difficulty and challenge to keep me going on and on. The included single-player mission gives the player a few really tense, exciting missions that require slow, steady movement if you want to survive. While it's a shame that the single-player was too short, the online multiplayer will keep you busy for some time. This game was delayed many times making myself think that the worst was coming. I'm happy to report that Gears of War is certainly the game to get this holiday.
The Xbox 360 has definitely been an interesting system graphically. Microsoft boasted from the beginning that all of the games would give the players a real life experience with sharp, crystal clear images. A few games have approached this, but Gears of War really shows what Microsoft was meaning.
First off, if you don't have a TV that's capable of at least 720p or, preferably I might add, 1080i/1080p, you won't get all that Gears of War has to offer you. The game paints a full portrait of excellent detail. Each sequence looks as if it was being broadcasted live creating a real sense of superior detail. The characters are always smooth, regardless of how many soldiers are on the screen. Speaking of this, the game never experienced a hiccup or cough consistently remaining in frame.
Epic has put the Xbox 360 on the map for gamers this holiday season. Gears of War, simply put, looks visually amazing.
For those of you who have been thinking of throwing down some dough for a new gaming surround system, Gears of War may very well be the sole reason to run to your local B&M store to grab that system. The provided 5.1 Audio was excellent. The bass was responsive, deep and powerful truly shaking your living room giving the game more intense feeling. Sound effects were also well placed as bullets, roars and footsteps gave the game an eerie, creepy effect.
The only real negative here is that some of the dialogue is weak. The chosen voice actors lack any real spark making there characters sound so monotone taking away any sense of fear in their voice. While this isn't a gigantic negative here, video games have shown us (Kingdom Hearts) that voice acting can sound great. Speaking of sound, I will mention that the game's soundtrack, despite being surrounded in a high octane world, sounds lackluster. I can't fully complain here though because I actually had to stand still to hear the music. I was always so engrossed in the action around me that I rarely noticed the soundtrack.
While not as impressive as the video for me, I will still give Epic kudos as Gears of War does sound pretty damn good.
If you're a big online multi-player junkie then Gears of War will have countless hours of replay. If you're not into the buddy system, Gears of War will still be the game you'll want to bring out to show off the 360 or simply to have some fun. As I note below, try to find some friends and you'll find yourself enjoying the game even more.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to invest your money in Gears of War, you have to ask yourself if you're a big Xbox Live fan. If you spend a lot of time playing online, Gears of War comes highly recommended solely for the multiplayer aspects. For the rest of you, the game still comes recommended with this caution. Find some friends, quickly I might add, so you can full enjoy every aspect of this game.