9.4

Epic and Microsoft have lived up to the hype. Gears of War is excellent.

I've played Halo, and other shooters on consoles. Normally I don't compare console shooters to PC shooters, but in this case, I can say that Gear of War is just as good as any shooter I've played on the PC, maybe even better.

The controls made me forget that I held a console gamepad in my hands. I usually struggle with it, but while playing Gears of War, it was easy and fun.

The graphics are outstanding, a little bit better than some others, but not so far ahead of the bar as many people might think. It's the way that the graphics draw you into the game that is really impressive. The art designs and level design are very well done, giving the world a beaten and bruised look after a war. Character models are excellent, with facial features and animations moving in synch with dialog and other actions.

The gameplay is the key for any game usually, so it was with great pleasure that I found Gears of War to have amazing gameplay that was fun at first, and stayed that way for hour and hours, enough to keep me awake all through the night. The main feature is using cover, which I've experienced before in an xbox game called kill.switch. It is used in a similar way in Gears, but the other details to combat really make the gameplay exciting and create a sense of urgency. If you are not behind cover, say your prayers.

Sounds and music are top-notch for a shooter. The tracks could almost compare to some of the great soundtracks of RPGs. The only little problem I encoutered was hearing the grunts and groans of a Locust enemy loud and clear as if it was standing very close by, when it was in the distance behind cover. One thing I really liked was the sounds that clued you in on certain stages of the game, such as when you've cleared an area of all enemies.

I'm adding this little bit about multiplayer after I really got to spend more time with it. In the beginning, I sucked bad and didn't enjoy it. I still sucked pretty bad, but got good enough to enjoy the great multiplayer. Its only 4 vs. 4 which some players may complain about, but it really lets teams work together more closely and plan. Strategic victories are satisfying, but players can still run and gun and do well, if they know the basics of using cover, mastering the weapons and the right times to use them, and just becoming familiar with all the maps. I am playing versus more and more and liking it more each time. It is really good with some friends.

What would I liked to see more if in Gears of War? Well, thegame covered just about everything I expected, and it is a polished, complete game, but maybe a few RPG elements to the gameplay would have been nice, or an inventory with more items that could be used. It's a shooter, though, and everything it does, it does well. The game is action-packed and has some great moments. It is a high energy shooter that doesn't take quick reflexes and running and gunning to win, but rewards patience and smarts, instead. I'd recommend Gears of War to anyone that owns an Xbox 360, even if you're not a fan of shooters on you console. I wasn't, but I am a huge fan of this game.

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