Gears of War (+)

PLAY THIS GAME. That said, I thought I may have been a little behind the curve, as I assumed most people would have already played through it.

Though you, loyal readership, may have, I was alarmingly surprised to find that many of my friends have not yet even seen it. If you don’t have an Xbox 360, you better make friends who do, even if its just to check it out. This game is pretty high up there.

Thinking back, Halo, and then Halo 2, have pretty much been the guys-hanging-out games to play. For a brief time it was Super Smash Brothers, yet somehow we played less and less and more and more Halo. Here’s a whole new animal for you to sink your teeth into.

The first thing that catches your eye, quite literally, is the amazing visual quality of the game. It uses the Unreal Engine 3, and takes full advantage of the amazing power of the 360. Seemed like Microsoft bashers were fine in saying that Halo was the only reason that the Xbox was close to good; well, in this generation, I would say that at the moment, Gears of War is keeping the 360 buoyant as ever I haven’t heard much bashing whatsoever. Graphically, its outstanding the level of detail, grime, and gore is amazing. Whether you’re sawing through someone with the chainsaw bayonet (Yes, its better even than you would imagine!) or curb-stomping a felled enemy, the game is greasy and gritty. And bloody. Deliciously so, especially if you’re into blood and gore, and amazing graphics.

Gameplay is quite satisfying. Teamwork is a big part, whether you’re working cooperatively with another player, or just with the AI. The enemies are pretty clever, and I think the games success is due in large part to the difficulty of the campaign they were very right in making the normal or medium setting hardcore. Insane is a step up, but both settings test your skill throughout each area. Casual is nice too, if you want to sit down with your dad and play for a bit.

The element of third-person agility moves isn’t new, but its pretty darn great in this game. Using the a-button, you can duck behind cover, jump over barricades, charge, and perform dives and rolls. One difficulty in it is that it’s the same button to run as it is to grab cover, which can be irritating when it comes to close combat, but hey. I guess I don’t have anything else to say about that.

There is some great online play, but you may run into trouble if you’re used to fielding a team of 8 or so playing Halo online. Gears of War only supports up to 8 players max in a game, meaning 4 on 4 action. The multiplayer levels aren’t really big enough to support more, but so far I’ve been pretty satisfied. It supports voice chat, individualized matchmaking, recorded statistics, earn achievements, and personalize gamer profiles.

The music of the game is pretty good too. Sometimes this can really drag down games, but with a healthy mix of orchestral space-opera type music and heavy lead guitar, one might be reminded of the effectiveness of the Halo theme, later featured on guitar in the second installment.

This is the only console game I’ve ever played that made me actually consider purchasing a console for the express purpose of playing this single game. The only other game that came close was Doom 3, on the Xbox. Seriously guys if you hate on Xbox, this might change your mind; if you have an Xbox 360, this is WORTH the 60 bucks; if your buddy has a 360, you know what he’s getting for the holidays. You might consider handing it over to him as an early gift, though, and GET YOUR GEAR ON.

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