"Gears of War"
From a single-player action-game perspective, "Gears of War" is
the best game I have played this year.
Emphasizing reality for the first time in the history of
videogames (sure, that's a stretch, but play along for a second),
"Gears of War" takes place in a future where aliens have overrun the
planet. As Marcus Fenix, you and a band of three professional
soldiers venture off on a mission to eradicate a tunneling system
that the aliens--called the Locust--are using to pop up from the
earth's core to squeeze humans out of existence. As a small
mission team, Marcus and his partner, Dominic, work with another
two-man team to knock out objectives while systematically taking out
The first and most important thing about "Gears of War" is the
intro in the instruction guide for the game; the game's developers
classify themselves as gamers who are truly sick of playing games
where you can circle-strafe bad guys to death and generally run
around making on-the-fly headshots and otherwise defying everything
you might think would happen in a real-life shootout. In
"Gears of War", you must master a one-button running and cover
system where you use the environment to stay mostly out of sight and
out of gunfire's way while flanking opponents to take them out.
As such, if you spend much time standing in the open while firing at
bad guys, you will die early and often in this game.
The cover system, all using the A button, takes a little getting
used to and even now, having beaten the game, I think it would have
been wiser to use a couple of other buttons for running or popping
out of cover. But, you can use almost anything--broken-down
cars, walls, doorways, statues, crates, dressers, benches--to move
from point to point while blind-firing over objects or popping up
slightly to take aim with the left trigger. Weapons are a
mixed bag--the assault rifle with a front-mounted chainsaw really is
a spectacle (especially because its melee attack is one of the
game's true highlights), but the shotgun, while effective, just
isn't as cool as the "Halo" shotgun, although those are big shoes to
fill. Pistols are no good but the Torque Bow, a bow-and-arrow
setup that ends with bad guys wearing arrows that blow them up from
inside-out, is quite sweet. Teammate AI is great--you actually
do get to watch your partner(s) kill bad guys for you--and enemy AI
is just awesome. Bad guys will pop out and occasionally get
you for a headshot; sometimes, they'll forego cover to rush you and
use a melee attack to kill you; if there are multiple enemies, it's
fun to watch them flank you to get a better position. And, the
end boss is just a fucking monster.
Multiplayer is great; you can either play in 4-on-4 matches on
Xbox Live (which, from a size perspective, is perfect given the
style of play and the size of the maps) or play through the entire
single-player game with one other person. This might be the
game's best mode: taking a buddy online to wax the enemy by truly
communicating to work the levels in a way that makes the most sense.
And, the graphics and lighting and shading are the best I've seen on
This is the game that really might keep you warm at night until
"Halo 3" comes out next fall. I'm not kidding!
Rating: Opening Weekend
Feedback? Comments? Salma Hayek's digits?
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": Buy
this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why
that's a good move. A game experience that will almost
guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high
resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end.
after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly,
or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new
games. Usually, that's about $40. You'll feel good
getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite
run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box
for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.
game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from
either half.com or eBay. You also might let a friend buy this
game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make
them feel better. Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy
"Rental": Like my
cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about
first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something
worthwhile. For games in this category, this is the maximum
amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either
gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.
Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you
are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.
Games like this should have never been released. If you play
this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the
experience. Further, if you can get this game for free, don't
do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience