Friday, May 27, 2011
Gears of War series is pretty quality.
Now that i'm done slurping the Graphics, let me move onto the engine itself. The mechanics were great. There's maybe 2-3 minor to moderate sized gripes you can have, first you're always shooting right handed, that's a bit annoying if someone is coming up on your left which can make it tough now and then but otherwise, some people might not even notice it. Then there's the fact that one button to do several different things. In multiplayer this is extremely annoying, your teammate goes down, you rush over to pick them up, what do you do however, you grab the shotgun ammo from the enemy your squad mate killed, resulting in your buddy dying, them raging at you over the mic and you possibly losing the round. That one is simply infuriating, but you can adjust so it doesn't happen, but its still a gripe. Then finally there's the cover system, in theory it's damn near perfect, however you get stuck to walls so often that it becomes a huge pain in the ass just to move down the map towards your enemies. You'll be slamming on and off random walls, humping along certain walls that you for some reason just cant roll off of, or just stand up while in cover with no chance to move. As i've said for the previous problems, these dont arise all that often and are somewhat avoidable, but when it causes you to die and or your team to lose the match, it can make you want to rage pretty hard.
Now that i'm done with the few problems i've encountered with the engine, let me move on to the parts that i love. The cover system when working is damn near perfect. Most games, their cover system feels tacked on, games like GTA, Uncharted and so forth, just feel like a mediocre cover system. You never feel like you're protected nor that you can do any damage while in cover. Gears however, when you slam against the wall, barrier, or car, you feel attached to it. You feel that it's a part of your defense. The game gives you that feeling of safety as well as offense. Aside from a few wacky angles, you should always be fine under cover. That to me is why this cover system is the best in gaming right now. But that's not all they added with this engine, they introduced the roadie run which feels like you're actually there. The speed, the the pounding as you run, it feels like you're there. Gives you the feeling that a FPS can sometimes give but in a 3rd person view. That feeling is actually something that was lost in the second Gears game, but again i'll hit that up in the Gears of War 2 review i'm planning on doing. There's a lot more to this engine, but the feeling of immersion and cover is what i liked best about this game. Also, the fact that there's not a jump button helps the game as it keeps it grounded and less jump firing that ruins games like Halo and Quake at times. This game seems a bit slower than those, relying more on skill than twitch play, though there's times where someone will trying to basically bounce off walls repeatedly to score a gnasher kill, but that doesnt work as often as you'd think since it's not an efficient way of getting kills.
The campaign, which contains a very vague story, is actually quite entertaining. It should only take about 5-8 hours to burn through it on the hardest difficulty, so it's short, but it is satisfying. Now before i go into detail on the story, let me begin by giving you a quick run down of the main characters you'll see and hear for most of the campaign.
Marcus Fenix - The face of the entire franchise and really i'm assuming the driving force of the entire series. He seems to play a huge part in the war even before the first game. He is the main character in the story mode and you'll be playing him unless you play through on coop. The campaign starts out with Dom breaking Marcus out of jail where he had been for four years due to leaving a battle to aid his father. Many soldiers look down on Marcus for abandoning their comrades so throughout the campaign you hear people talking about him being a traitor or his acts of treason. By the end of the game however, all seems to be forgiven and he's regarded as one of the wars greatest heroes.
Dominic Santiago - The other main character of campaign, you only play as him in coop, but he helps drive the story forward with Marcus. It was his idea to free Marcus, a former squad mate, after the war was taking its toll on the Cogs. Most disagreed at the time but it helped change the balance of war. Dom is driven by his desire to avenge his children's lives and find his kidnapped his wife. He plays a bigger part in Gears 2 as a majority of the story is about Dom.
While Dom and Marcus are the only characters you play in the campaign, they're aided by two of the best NPC's in games. What Cole and Baird have in personality more than makes up for what Dom and Marcus may lack.
Augustus "Cole-Train" Cole - Former Thrashball star turned COG soldier. He's brash, he's egotistical, and most of all, he's a pure badass. When you first encounter Cole, it's after most of his entire squad have been killed. While he's cornered in a courtyard, but not in any trouble, you can hear him yelling, taunting, and killing dozens of Locust. Even when you come down to talk to him, he's still berating the dead grubs. Cole rises to any occasion and is never afraid to speak his mind. He really lights up the screen when he's on it as well as softens the mood a bit. So it's not just a hard nosed war game.
Damon Baird - Baird along with Cole joined the resistance on Emergence Day, the day the Locust first attacked. Baird despite his blonde hair and good looks is actually quite smart, he's able to repair and drive any vehicle, he's also adept at formulating plans and is a driving force behind designing and detonating the light mass bomb, which the COG hope destroy the locust and their tunnels. Baird also brings levity to the story too, he like Cole is responsible for finding humor in an otherwise sad and dark war. Even when you dont actually play as Baird, he's still a big part of the experience.
Together these four characters give you a campaign full of hilarious one liners and macho badassness that's missing in most games today. Really the only thing that could make these four better is if you could play as them.
The story starts with the Locust trying to take over the surface and essentially sinking cities as they climb to the surface and take out man, woman, and child on the surface. This becomes known as Emergence Day and the start of a war that the humans never expected. With surprise on their side, the locust are successful in destroying most of the planet and puts momentum in their favor. With the citizens of Sera on their heels, they only have one option, to ally the forces and create what's know as the COG (Coalition of Ordered Government) Army. The humans are able to hold off the Locust push for 14 years, but due to their strength in numbers, the COG have one last plan before everything has been lost. That's where the campaign starts.
The campaign doesnt really give you in depth access to the story. You have to really pay attention to understand what's really going on. Yes that's a huge knock, but it all comes down to the story vs gameplay argument. If the gameplay is good enough, sometimes story doesnt matter. The campaign is able to change things up quite often. You fight a variety of different enemies, each with their own weaknesses. The game also splits you from your comrades quite often making the game a bit tough since you dont have a teammate to revive you if you die. This helps increase the difficulty but also helps your sense of accomplishment. There are many changes in gameplay too. You may be riding around in mine carts, assaulting a mansion, or overtaking a train. Nothing feels as though you've already been there and done that, which makes everything seem fresh.
Overall it's a great experience. I was skeptical when the game was first released and refused to buy it immediately, but when i did purchase it, it was easily my most played game. I've played the campaign countless times as well as invested into the multiplayer heavily. In fact, even to this day, i still play the game quite often. It's a shame that due to its age and sequel, the community has died out. Though you can still find games, they're either really really good or really really bad, making new players quit before they can fully experience the multiplayer.