9

Every great game comes with great features, and Gears is no exception.

Known as the successor of Halo for Xbox, Gears of War has become a hit on the 360 and for gamers everywhere. Though Halo 2 is the most popular online game for any Xbox game, most of my friends list is inhabited with people online in Gears of War. From what I played, it's a solid game with plenty of fun for most people. The controls are very different for most gamers, but I call it a solid mixture between Halo and Ghost Recon. It's an over the shoulder third person shooter, with tactical skills to match, but the story and intensity reminisce a good game from Bungie Studios. As good as it is, it's got its faults.

The good news: you must play this game. It encompasses everything a must-play game is. It challenges you not only in simple hand-eye coordination skills, but also in strategic moves about your entry into a fight, your maneuvering, and even how you shoot another character. For example, on Insane difficulty, the easiest way to kill an opponent is to aim for the knees and then "curb stomp" him, which means you walk up to him and smash his head into the ground. Gruesome, fun, and smart; that's a good combination in gaming. As far as graphics go, it's practically a ten. It's got high resolution graphics almost everywhere, and the water, shadows, ground, everything feel real when you walk on it or look at it, or even stand under it (that would be the water splashing off your head - in very high res., mind you). The graphics are never cheesy and overdone. They have been tuned for the blessing of gamers everywhere. The game looks great on a normal television with its internal speakers. Of course, every game covers home base. On an HDTV and in true 5.1 surround sound, you are a Gear, the soldier in the game. My Monster optical cable hasn't had such a great use since Oblivion. The game overall feels real and you can mostly empathize with the situation from the game with an awesome tone, great acting on a solid script, and of course a graphical and auditory mastery.

The bad news might affect some of you more than others. There are probably a lot more others than some of you. If you want another Halo, turn around. The story is similar, but the controls feel much slower - mainly because they mimic a different reality. I like the controls, but if you love to run out and kick some Covenant booty, this game will not fill your quota for intensity. You have to take cover, even in Casual mode, or you will die, regardless of how good you are at headshot no scoping 'nade bouncing glorious "pwnage." I loved that aspect of the game, it was new and fresh, but others find it incredibly slow and boring. Such realism gets me into the game. Like I said, it's up to you. Another main issue which is making me return the game is the story and the design. The story was great, and the TV and cinema advertisement of the rendition of "Mad World" (by Gary Jules) really took the best aspects in the game's story. However, it was not nearly as fleshed out as it could have been. I'm not talking just about length. It was long enough, but I felt like I was running in circles, or doing somewhat pointless things. By the way, when I said it was like Halo, I meant the story was like Halo. Instead of coming from outerspace, they came from underground. It was kind of like Armageddon versus The Core, except both these games are awesome... The Core really wasn't. Anyways, the game had issues with the "hardcore" aspect, including the bandana and the incredulous large physique of the characters. Most of them were uncharacteristically ripped. They looked like they were 6'4" and 00 pounds of mass to their frame. The problem was, they also looked like they had zero percent body fat. It's cool to make something look cool. It's not cool to make it uniformly unreal. Also, the cog with the skull inside it was very random. The civilization of Seras was very pristine and nice. I didn't understand why a skull was painted everywhere. It might have a deeper meaning than I want to make, but the blend between tone and design tended to clash.

I have to cover multiplayer, which is more or less enjoyable. It's different to kill in Gears than in Halo or the older Ghost Recons. Mainly, it's a little easy to revive your teammate, and it's even easier to kill someone in the first place. You start off with a machine gun with a chainsaw bayonet, a zoom-in pistol, a flash grenade, and a shotgun that can kill someone from well over a meter away. It's a very generous starting line up. Moreover, it might just be my Xbox or my internet connection, but I find it very difficult to find a ranked match with someone else. I tried several times, and each time it kept telling me that the opponent left. Obviously, multiplayer has to work on a game like Gears of War, and it has to have one at least. Locally, it's still really fun. The multiplayer experience was amusing from what I did get to play. Out of ten, I'd give multiplayer an eight.

Overall, it covered all the awesome aspects of a good game. Graphics, gameplay, and sound were great, but the story and general fun factor didn't flow too well with me. Like every game of such great cost, rent it before you buy it. Even if you're convinced it'll be amazing, a five to ten dollar insurance isn't such a bad thing. If it didn't meet your standards, you at least played a great game. I'm being objective when I give it a solid nine, but I found the bland story and cheesy lines quite damaging. It does what every game nowadays is meant to do. However, it doesn't compare to Halo in story, and how immersive Halo always was. Halo was a constant adrenaline, whereas Gears can be less than satisfying. Hence, it doesn't really do what every game should do: expand the potential of video gaming as a whole. I wasn't fulfilled like I was in Oblivion, but I had an experience that will be a basis for future comparison in next generation gaming.

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