My Bits and Bytes: Gears of War on everyone's wishlist
Holy crap! That's all I can really say. If I wasn't expected to write more about this game that's all I would say for this review. Seeing how I have to fill up a page, I don't think I will have any trouble doing that because this game and the experience it brings will make it easy.
The game is not your typical run and gun, Halo type, First person shooter that we're all accustomed to. Gears of War is an amazing stop and pop game (yes, this term has been used to death for the game, but that's exactly what it is) that brings you into a futuristic war where you and your team are against some of the most gruesome and fiercest monsters every generated graphically in a game.
The story for the game is slightly forgettable, although near the end, you know that they've kept it open ended for a sequel and because of that, it does get a wee-bit better. If you're looking for a story based game, you'll find better elsewhere. If you want a game with amazing action, let's go further.
The controls for this game revolve around your top right trigger and the “A” button. If you can shoot and hit “A” for your ducking and jumping over objects, then you'll be able to play this game. That's not saying that this game is simple. It did take me a good half-an-hour to an hour to be fully comfortable with the control scheme, but after that, I was killing like a pro. I must say that the controls, especially during online play and using the chainsaw gun, need to be tightened up a little bit. Perhaps I'm still too used to my billion games of Halo 2 online, but I found that it still doesn't flow as smoothly as it probably could. I don't know how many times I died because hitting “B” to get my chainsaw going just didn't trigger the machine and I was smoked by online players or the computer.
Speaking of online, the other fault of the game, which I have been finding a little bit better, is connecting and matchmaking on Xbox Live. At first, I couldn't even join a game. It always said that my connection has been lost or no one could even join me when I was hosting a game. Now, I can join the odd game but I'll be damned if anyone can join a game I'm hosting. I have no problems with other Live games, but this one, man…the pain and the lack of bringing others with you or teaming up with friends like in Halo 2 just isn't available for this game.
Onto the juiciest part of this game: the graphics. Yes, I have a nice 36” flat Toshiba, but HD it isn't. Just good ol' 480 resolution, but I still can't believe the graphics of this game. This is truly next-gen and I envy those with a huge 1080p HD TV because I can't believe that the game can look sharper than this. Every little detail is amazing, from the water to the soldier's faces and armor.
The game has three difficulty settings: regular, hardcore and insane. I started and finished the game on hardcore and have just started working through the second level on insane (which you have to unlock). I suggest that those of you who haven't played this start on hardcore because it does prolong what could be a short game if you're a veteran gamer. I got through it in about eight hours or less. With the difficulty on insane, you have to stay close to the ground or else you're smoked AND your recovery time doubles.
If insane is too tough for you, you can hop online and play co-op over Xbox Live or you can hook up a bud at home and run through it. This is a very cool option for those who want the achievement points but are too cra…oh wait, I'll stop right there without insulting….but it still is cool.
While there are some control issues and the game's story is forgettable (and the game time for some people will be short), I can say that Gears of War has totally lived up to the hype and helped the Xbox 360 smoke the PS3 and Wii so far in holiday sales. Yes, the other two new consoles don't have the availability as the Xbox 360, but this game is definitely helping make the 360 almost as obscure this holiday season. Tis' the season to be killing. This game gets a 9.6 out of 10.