Gears of War (2006) Xbox 360 Game Review

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3 years ago

Overview

You are Marcus Fenix, a former soldier, put in prison after a mysterious story of cowardice and refusal to obey. Resigned to your sad fate, you probably never imagined what your future would be like. Dom, a soldier answering the orders of the CGU and probably one of your last friends, comes to get you out of your dungeon to help the nation in the ultimate fight against the Locusts on the planet Sera. Yes, you are free, you are back in service, despite the insults profaned to your fate by one of your superiors: Hoffman. First integrated into a Delta team under the orders of Lieutenant Kim, you will quickly take the reins of the said unit for various reasons that it would be unfair and improper to communicate to you here. Then follow missions whose pace and horror never seem to end, so much so that you come to regret the miserable meals and the semblance of a bunk that accompanied your daily life in prison. But this is no time for regrets, soldier, you know that. So with the three members of your new elite squad, Baird, Cole, and Dom, you decide to go all out to accomplish all the missions. The road ahead will be far from rosy, with blood-red predominating prominently in each of your actions, each of the devastating places you will have to travel. From the gloomy corridors of the prison to the train of hell, through the nightly dangers of a ruined city, a disused factory, or the underworld of the Locust hordes, you will have only one desire: to destroy General Locuste Raam and his troops of Drone soldiers, Theron sentries, Berseker and other snipers. Do you think you are ready to face the unimaginable? Patience, soldier Marcus, you will know much more once you are faced with the facts. Chaos in five acts.

Gameplay

First of all, because the tutorial, which here takes the form of a purely optional choice, integrates perfectly into the game scenario and manages to make us assimilate the game's handling in a few minutes for immediate pleasure. Also, arriving in a world such as the one created by Epic Games reminds us how much the role of a video game is above all to transport us into a magical world. Of course, the magic here takes the form of a nightmare of endless war, but the reality is there: we, the players, are plunged into real chaos. Everything in the game is designed to make us feel sweet pleasure against a background of discomfort, which looks like a chaotic movie.

Taking cover and attacking sums up perfectly the type of gameplay in Gears of War. As a result, the gameplay is quite simple and easy to access despite a certain lack of precision, as we will see. First of all, you have to know that Marcus and his soldiers, while they are certainly good at covering themselves from enemy fire, are not very good at carrying out another type of attack. We move to cover, then attack, then progress, then cover, etc., in a continuous circle. Of course, we can't be too demanding with a game of this kind where repetition is often required, but here we can't help but be a little disconcerted by the similarity in our actions' evolution. Of course, the missions offered are varied and range from rescuing allied squads to bombing and eliminating enemy forces, but these different goals do not translate into playability. It would have been greatly appreciated if Marcus and co were capable of more than just taking cover.

Let's talk about this action. By simply pressing button A combined with a chosen direction, you can then migrate from one cover to another in a matter of seconds, all in well-respected militarism. You can also jump over an obstacle, always after taking cover, since this jump cannot be done otherwise, and run at high speed for several meters. However, once you review the A button's functions, you realize that the gameplay quickly reaches its limits. Indeed, our soldier can only roll around in all directions, reload his weapon, give orders to his squad, and pick up items. We can certainly understand that everything resides in this art of military progression. Still, we can only express regret when we realize how few possibilities this Gears of War offers in terms of gameplay.

The answer is no, as the pleasure of progressing, no matter how repetitive it may be, is so great. Therefore, it is important to understand that elements such as this gameplay, which is too focused on the cover, remind us that perfection does not exist and that here a choice has been made by the developers to limit the possibilities to concentrate as much as possible on a detail. More generally, the handling of Gears of War can confuse some people regarding directional control of the character and the proposed shooting. Cliff Bleszinski, the lead designer of the game, evokes the "second person" view since if we focus more on the third-person perspective in terms of direction, the aim is closer to a classic FPS. However, in the end, we spend three-quarters of the game to be in close-up view and put aside the third person view. Why is that? Quite simply for the sake of precision, since the latter is only too random (especially in veteran mode) when you're directing your character. You then find yourself constantly having your finger on the left trigger to be ready to face any phase of action. As a result, it is not uncommon to be caught from behind and the sides without acting, which is a pity.

Graphics

Here we come to what is, not surprisingly, the game's strong point: its aesthetics. To say that Gears of War is one of the most beautiful games of the 360 would be a sweet understatement. It is undoubtedly THE most beautiful and shows it in many ways. The Character modeling - The big arms that are the soldiers of the CGU brilliantly show all their muscular mass, share their feelings through remarkable facial expressions, and perform movements with naturalness even if they sometimes adopt a strange behavior, as evoked during the analysis of the gameplay. The same goes for the Locusts who will disgust you at the mere sight of them. Their design is reminiscent of some of the flagship licenses, such as the fearsome General Raam, who will evoke fond memories of the Resident Evil series for many of you. For the rest, Gears of War is a visual delight of harmony and coherence between the set elements. The visual graphics largely predate. Until the end of the five acts that compose the game, one is in admiration in front of very beautiful renderings, admirable textures, and magnificent colors that recall marvelously the chaos reigning on Sera. But once again, it is the whole formed by this ensemble and working in perfect harmony that makes us fall under a spell.

Gears of War thus presents some simply remarkable effects. Among them, violence holds a predominant place. The bullets that fly on the battlefield, the shells that fly while the walls leave traces of past and present chaos, all this would not be appreciated in the same way if we didn't see our enemies' flesh exploded, which appears on our screen when they are nearby. In the same way, it is just as enjoyable to shoot a Locust in the legs and see bits of suits and pulpits shredded before approaching the said enemy and crushing the skull of this miserable individual with a short kick. No, it's hard to blame Gears of War on a purely graphic level. And yet, we do have a touch of disappointment with the variety of the sets, in the same sense as the remark made about the gameplay, i.e., that we have to deal with impressive sets but which, in the end, always take place in a gloomy context.

Sound

Combine all this with an exceptional soundtrack, and you will have the ideal conditions of immersion. Entrusted to Kevin Riepl, the soundtrack of Gears of War is simply excellent. Music that leans more towards classical instruments and offers a peaceful life through songs or melodies, where a simple track from a rock song, for example, would only accentuate the rough side of the game. This is a far cry from this simple function, and it is a pure auditory pleasure to experience the adventure of Gears of War.

Conclusion

Gears of War was unquestionably a massive hit on the Xbox 360. With gameplay that is intuitive and very enjoyable but still lacks variety, as well as a simply splendid game world, though not free of flaws, all served by a satisfying single-player lifespan - one has to admit that Gears of War provides a unique and indispensable gameplay pleasure, so much so that one would almost forget its little inconveniences. One thing is certain: war has rarely been so exciting.

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