Side note – Because I am so popular… Okay, because I have one other friend that has this game, I have yet to just play it by myself so everything I say is in response to the co-op campaign mode of the game.
I may have made a mistake by playing the sequel to this game first, but Gears of War remains a great game despite all of the noticeable flaws that were fixed for the second game.
Gears of War takes place years following an event known as Emergence Day, which marks the day when creatures known as Locusts attacked and killed huge numbers of humans. Though the humans were able to strike back, much of the planet and its cities were destroyed in the process. The player takes control of Marcus Fenix (unless you play as his squad mate Dom in co-op), one of the built-like-a-bodybuilder COG soldiers who found himself in prison after defying orders during the initial days following Emergence Day. Now he is out and has plenty of opportunities to release any pent up aggression he may have thanks to the continuing attacks from the Locust.
That may seem like a very vague explanation of the story of this game, but that’s because for the most part the story really is that vague. Instead, the action takes precedent over the story with shoot-through-the-hoards-of-bad-guys-and-come-out-the-other-side-alive missions. These missions may be straight forward enough with the lack of the variance of an open world game, but there are often times when there is another path, such as through a building instead of out in the street, allowing for a different attack than just a frontal assault. However, the majority of the time the game moves from point A to point B with only one option through the battlefield, making the cover system the most important aspect of the game. For the most part it works really well and there is enough debris to duck behind, but there are times when it becomes just as frustrating as helpful. For starters, the Locust soldiers are so thick skinned that sometimes your bullets from cover aren’t enough to knock them down before they reach your hiding spot (and don’t even think about headshots), so then as you unstick yourself from your cover they are already delivering the final blow with a quick fist to the head. Now if this happens to you, it is easy to get frustrated enough so that when the game reloads you decide to mix up your tactics and just pray that you will survive just running through a rain of bullets in order to chainsaw the enemies in the face, but it doesn’t take long to learn your lesson, especially considering the checkpoint locations are sometimes way back in a previous part of the level.
Luckily enough, if you have a friend that isn’t a complete jerk then they can come save you from dying. In this game it sure is rough just waiting for your teammate to come as your screen drenches itself in red, but thankfully the sequel gives you the ability to crawl back to your fellow soldiers. On a similar note, the range of difficulty is very broad, with some parts that take little effort to get through while others take upwards of 20 attempts. It is in these moments that it is best to have a friend with you so you can curse the screen together or just blame them for failing.
Overall this game is really fun and has graphics that still hold up to the games that have come out since its release date back in the latter part of 2006, and even though I prefer the sequel I strongly recommend Gears of War for anyone who has an XBOX 360 and loves action and shooter games.
Final Grade: 8 (though it would probably score higher had I played it first)