Gears of War Review for Xbox 360

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Marcus and co star in the Xbox 360's first true classic
Marcus and co star in the Xbox 360's first true classic

Marcus and co star in the Xbox 360's first true classic

Reviewing Gears of War is a lose-lose situation for video game critics. If you say it's one of the greatest games ever made you'll be labelled a fanboy who has fallen for the hype, but say it's just a good action game and you'll be called clueless and an obvious Microsoft hater. I might as well stick my fanboy hat on then, as Gears of War is everything Microsoft wanted it to be. Contrary to some opinions, the next generation of gaming clearly starts when Epic says so. Game of the year? Quite possibly.

There's a war going on and the planet is in desperate need of soldiers to fight the Locust (a lizard-like alien species) army that has risen. The humans are completely outnumbered, but you work with an ever-changing squad of men that are more than up to the task of kicking Locust butt. These aren't any ordinary men; they're almost caricatures of beefed up soldiers, with biceps the size of trucks and necks that are ten-feet wide. The story is a simple one, but it's as dramatic as they come, with some stunning cutscenes and plenty of banter between squad mates giving you little glimpses into the back-story.

Despite Epic Games' pedigree in first-person shooters, Gears of War is a third-person shooter with a strong emphasis on cover. As the brute-like Marcus Fenix, a tougher than tough soldier, you must utilise the environment (and many conveniently placed concrete barricades) to stay alive. The 'A' button is the key to this, throwing Marcus into a wall if he's close enough, popping him out to new cover or for making him roadie run (a crouched run). It takes time to get the hang of, but after an hour or so you'll be throwing Marcus around with a swiftness that defies his immense size.

When in cover you have a number of options. If you're taking heavy fire from nearby enemies you can blind-fire, causing them to retreat to a more manageable distance, but the most effective technique is to peek out and take aim. This obviously puts you in danger, but Marcus is a strong guy and as long as you don't take sustained fire, and duck back behind cover after each spent clip, picking off distant enemies isn't too tricky. An excellent sniper rifle makes the job even simpler, and numerous other excellent weapons all have their uses, including a helping hand from up above and an under-gun chainsaw.

Taking cover is key to staying alive

Taking cover is key to staying alive

Your problem is that enemies don't remain in one place. The enemy AI isn't groundbreaking, but they'll attempt to flank you, lob grenades at you, and even charge right at you. The charge is perhaps the scariest thing that can happen in combat situations while playing Gears. You feel quite safe if enemies remain at a distance, but if they run at you, panic sets in. If a whole clip doesn't put them down, you're in deep trouble, especially if you fluff the reload.

Fluff the reload? Why yes, in Gears of War reloading is a skill in itself, with a correctly timed button-press reloading your weapon in no-time, while a miss-timed reload will cause Marcus to struggle, meaning you're left helpless for a few seconds longer. It's a simple concept, but it makes combat feel fresh. It's one thing being in good cover, but that cover isn't going to help when a Locust chainsaws you in half while you're faffing around with an ammo clip. The reload action itself is incredibly simple, but when the pressure is on it's remarkable how many times you stuff up.

Enemy variety is top drawer, with new enemies being introduced as you progress through the campaign. There are some real nasty buggers, and bosses aren't too pleasant either, often being quite large, and always incredibly powerful. Enemies generally emerge from aptly named 'Emergence holes' and if you can block these holes quickly (with a grenade) you can effectively cut off the threat before it's had a chance to develop. It's easier said than done though, as throwing a grenade leaves you pretty vulnerable, and unless you're quick the Locust soldiers will be on you.

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User Comments

St_Taylor_UK's Avatar

St_Taylor_UK

Play some diablo 2 then. You can run that of virtually any PC and it always RULES !
Posted 15:40 on 02 January 2009
poor's Avatar
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poor

s**t i v no ps3 no wii no xbox360..just a pc with 128mo graphiq card :(
Posted 15:34 on 02 January 2009
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TomM

Seems like a bunch of faggot ass PS3 and HALO fanboys in here. If you think controls suck, you suck too bad to learn them. Gears of War owns anything out right now, any game on PS3, and all HALO games. Gears of War 2 will just murder EVERYTHING!
Posted 12:58 on 09 May 2008
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tomtom

meh, another shooter. its not that i dont like shooters i just cant play them 2 save my life. no matter how much i practice i never get better at them. thats why i wont buy this game
Posted 08:56 on 04 April 2008
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jamraki

gears of war rules, put all the graphics and glitch problems to one side as they are just sub issues, this game builds intesity like no other, when u spend the whole week playin gears with only a few hours to sleep then u know its a good game
Posted 11:24 on 03 September 2007
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wido

I just wondered, seeing as GOW has got 10/10 for about everything. Halo3 could knock it off the best first-person shooter. That is when GOW 2 comes out Halo3 would of lost then when GOW 2 comes out. :P
Posted 09:45 on 24 July 2007
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wido

Well i am speech-less, GOW brillant written all over it. You can't say its a boring first-person shooter, your always in the thick of it all. Completed it on casual, hardcore, insane. Still play on it brillant game.
Posted 09:41 on 24 July 2007
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God of Raiden

Nothing will beat GoW, but GoW itself! It may not be a "perfect" game out there, but it is up to the gamers how they will rate this game---I gave it a 10/10 score...ohh, baby! Only GoW2 can take the title to be the new "Best Shooter Game" as soon it comes out and go head-to-head with Halo 3. Between Gow2 & H3?...my best bet is on GoW2--because it's gonna be badder, bloodier, better, and much more exciting features than the previous GoW. So, please, Epic, we want GoW2 as soon as possible...pleeeeeeaaaaasssseee!!!!!!!
Posted 03:09 on 11 June 2007
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PISSED OFF !!!@ MIKE G

after owning an xbox360 for nearly a year ,im not mpressed apart from nfs:carbon is it just me are the only decent games you can play are shoot em ups or car games wheres the variety ? and going by the games lined up for 2007 its just more of the same CRAP !!!! eg:graw2,bioshock,mass effect,halo 3. i hate to say this but i cant wait for the release of the PS3
Posted 17:30 on 01 January 2007
cairnz970's Avatar

cairnz970@ shagnew

ryt ppl this games isn't as gd as i expected but its gd in general, the online was suposed 2 be 2-16 players in online in the first talk about the game by the designer but at the end it had 2 be reduced to 2-8 because the game desiner were pushed to 80-100 hours a week
Posted 00:38 on 28 December 2006
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medekai@ MIKE G

dude, you gotta stay in the light. The bird things dont attack in the light. And if you must get through a dark area, RUN! They cant shred ya if they cant catch ya. Then again, avoid any long dark passages,cuz running too far in the dark they'll catch up wit ya. hope that helps...kai
Posted 16:37 on 23 December 2006
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medekai@ shagnew

The only prob with gears, is occasionally you get the whiners, and flat out rude people on live. While it is easy enough to tune'em out, or mute them, Id rather shut then up with brutal and bloody precision butt whoopins. If you want to play with a team player, not a 12 year old, or a whiner, look me up online.---gamertag-Medekai
Posted 16:30 on 23 December 2006
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ps3 is scum@ shagnew

this is serioulsly gonna wipe ps3 off the face of the earth because this game alone will convince people 2 get a 360... burn in hell sony
Posted 07:39 on 15 December 2006
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MIKE G@ shagnew

Absolutley loving the game, its pure class but can some one please please please tell me how you avoid those bird things that sweep down and kill you in the dark. I've shot all the tanks to get light and killed the locusts only to be killed at the end of the stage by the bird things, i know im missing something obvious but could someone please help!!
Posted 17:16 on 11 December 2006
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ajtonio@ shagnew

gears of war looks to be a great game but i wouldnot no as my copy locks up in the training mode and wont go any further help !!!
Posted 14:29 on 02 December 2006

Game Stats

Technical Specs
10
Out of 10
Gears of War
  • Superb online Versus multiplayer
  • Brilliant co-op action
  • Intense fire-fights
  • Truly next-gen presentation
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 17/11/2006
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: Action
No. Players: 1-8
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 954 52
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