Gears of War is fantastic. Just wanted to get that out of the way. There wasn't a moment while playing it that I wasn't having fun. There are some misfortunate shortcomings, but not only is it a wonderfully brutal, sadistic, and strategic alternative to Microsoft's other big one (Halo), but it's control scheme, I'm sure, will influence pretty much every third person strategic shooter title that will come along this generation. It's that good.
Now, first things first. The game basically revolves around Marcus Fenix taking cover, shooting some locust, running to different cover, and shooting more locust. This is great fun, especially since the guns are fun and different from one another, and since you have such great things at your disposal as chainsaws and torque bows (basically an explosive crossbow). This aspect of the game works so well because not only is the cover system nearly flawless, but the frighteningly aggressive enemy A.I. is constantly flanking you, forcing you to constantly move around. This makes for some damn intense firefights with intelligent enemies. Plus, blood and gore explode from their white, bubbly skin with each bullet you load them with. Awesome.
What isn't awesome is that when they die, they turn into glorified wet noodles. Seriously, walk on a dead locust, and it looks like a pile of spaghetti. For a game that gets the graphics and physics almost perfect, this seems like it definately could have been fixed.
Another area of concern are the boss battles. All the wonderful strategy that you use to take down normal (yet headache inducing) locust enemies is completely gone. All you do is point and shoot. The two boss battles that are in the game are just plain painful when compared to how great the rest is. I definately feel that the developers could have put more work into this.
The story has been widely criticized, and while it is certainly flawed and not the most compelling, the cutscenes are intense and cool, and it sets up a great background for the sequel. I'm confident that the sequel's story will be much better because, in my mind, the developers were just putting events into context in the first one.
So, despite my love for the cover system and mechanics in general, I have to give this one lower than an A. While I feel that a B+ is fit for the first game, I know the developers at Epic are talented enough to fix all of the problems with the first one, and create their true masterpiece as a sequel.