Gearing towards excellence
Intending to take on the PS3 and Wii with both barrels, the 360 gets its best game on the racks at just the right time.
Though the hype that’s gone together with the launch of the PS3 and the Wii is commendable, the release of Gears of War for the 360 shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Simply put, it’s the best game available on the 360 by a mile.
The thing about GOW is the concept is hardly original. It’s the implementation that makes it so good.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: you’re a form of superhero soldier in a post-apocalyptic world fighting for the future of humanity against an invading alien race, this time called the Locust.
What makes GOW so good is the tension. In making this game they’ve done an excellent job of using the look, the sound, the feel, and the mood along with the level design to make it feel like you’re always in danger.
The game is unremitting. Finding cover is as important as your weaponry. Cars, rubble, walls, you name it, you’ll need it.
Pop out into open space and you’re as defenseless as the only girl at a frat party.
The key is strategy: hide, shoot, and move. Hide, shoot move. You’re always with others in a squadron and though they are some help in taking out some enemies, they’re almost more use as a decoy, as you’re always the one who’ll have to do the heavy lifting.
Some of the levels are addictive beyond belief. You just won’t be able to put the game down until you finish the level, like the one on a train where, after you take out numerous alien soldiers, you’re faced with a nasty boss.
The weapons are marvelous. From a chainsaw mounted on the end of your machine gun to a rocket launcher, there’s lots of power. There’s also a satellite-based weapon, the Hammer of Dawn, that takes a lot of strategy and expertise to employ, but is much-needed in tough situations.
Cleverness is also at a premium as there are cases where a gun isn’t needed to take out some enemies.
The levels are exceptionally well-designed, even though you are fundamentally following a pre-determined path. They surely look post-apocalyptic, and the feel of the game is threatening and spine-chilling.
There’s decent variety in here as well. While the single-player mode is gripping, you can play co-operatively, either with a friend in your home or online on Xbox Live. There’s also a team-based multiplayer mode that lets up to eight players get in on the action with loads of great maps to roam around in.
One of the more encompassing games I’ve played all year.
Pretty much everything, look, design, weapons, and mood.
If I was to quibble, the storyline isn’t really developed at all; it’s just you versus them.