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Gears of War

Developer: Epic Games | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 11/07/06 | Genre: Action

GoW3.jpgEpic’s Gears of War has been hyped as one of the best reasons to buy Microsoft’s Xbox360. After what seems like far too long, Emergence Day has finally come and gone. In the aftermath, we have been able to spend some quality time with the title and tell you exactly why this game lives up to the hype and, in many cases, surpasses it.

Let’s begin with the visual and aural assault that is Gears of War. In a word: Amazing. GoW isn’t just the best looking Xbox360 game, it’s the best looking video game period. The textures in the game are simply fantastic. The special effects are amazing and there’s one stage in particular where you’re humping it through the rain with your squad and it just looks absolutely incredible. The gore factor is sky high and blood spatters frequently and freely sometimes obstructing your view as it stains the camera.

Thankfully, Epic didn’t skimp on the audio either. The game’s music is ok, but the sound effects are superb. The sounds of war rage all around you in surround sound goodness as you fire round after round into the relentless ranks of the Locust Horde. The other place where the game’s audio shines is the voice over work. It is safe to say you can expect more than your run of the mill Resident Evil acting quality here. The actors are quite good and the dialogue is well written and often times humorous as the members of your squad exchange banter amongst themselves. As a mature title, you expect plenty of swearing along the way.

Now that we’ve sufficiently glossed over the amazing aesthetics of the game, it’s time to jump into the actual gameplay. Gears of War does not play like your typical shoot ‘em up. Running out with guns ablazing is more often than not a one way ticket to ashes as opposed to an adrenaline charged rush to victory. You stand a much better chance of surviving if you use the cover provided in the lavished environments, popping out only to fire short bursts at enemies or perhaps long enough to chuck a well-placed grenade. Pop out too long though and the merciless AI will have you in tears before you know it.

GoW2.jpgWith such ruthless enemies, a COG soldier needs some serious firepower and thankfully he gets it. The standard assault rifle is a fine weapon that you may want to keep on you at all times. It is especially delicious because of the chainsaw equipped on the end. The saw makes short work of any Locust that is unfortunate enough to get too close. Other weapons include the shotgun, which is absolutely devastating in close combat, a standard pistol which you’ll almost never use, a powerful magnum and a satellite-based weapon called The Hammer of Dawn. The name alone is cool enough, but it gets even better when you deliver laser-embodied divine retribution on some foolhardy Locust that blunders across your path. There are other weapons as well. You can snag guns from the clutches of fallen adversaries and use their own weapons against them.

The single player campaign alone is worth the price of admission for GoW, but the online multiplayer and coop really just put it over the top. There are several modes of online play and well…they all kick butt. Sticking together and working as a team is absolutely essential for winning squad-based online matches. Taking over key points in the map and controlling strong weapons go a long way in ensuring you a mark in the W column (duh). Thankfully the designers at Epic did a terrific job on the maps. The environments in which you’ll do battle are almost all excellent; nicely balanced, well equipped and offering plenty of cover and ambush opportunities. Getting some friends together and settling in for some 4v4 action should be America’s new pastime.

GoW1.jpgOk, so I’ve been gushing about the game all along here; aren’t there any negatives? Well, in a word, no. The game is just fantastic from start to finish. Every adrenaline-filled second is a moment worth savoring. With three modes of difficulty to complete for the single player campaign and the expansive online multiplayer options, Gears of War more than delivers the goods. If you own an Xbox360 then you absolutely must have this game as it is without a doubt the best game available for the system. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play the game until my boss calls and threatens to fire me.

By Ryan Schaefer - 11/26/06
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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Screenshots for Gears of War

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