13 January 2010
You know that feeling you get when you play a game that makes you happy you bought the system it's on?
That's Gears of War.
Even though the Xbox 360 launch titles looked great, it was Gears that made people go out and buy HDTVs. The graphics are fantastic, everyone knows that now, but they truly ushered in the next generation when the game was originally released. The gameplay is tricky at first but you will find it smooth in no time. There’s a ton of tough-guy dialogue to wade through but the story is compelling. I have always thought that the characters got a bad shake when the game was initially reviewed. They’re not as deep as the cast of a Spike Lee Joint. However, the voice acting was excellent. I think Game Informer called it "dude-speak."
A few words about story and setting: You can go a long way pleasing gamers with titles set in post-apocalyptic, sci-fi nightmare worlds where aliens are bent on crushing humans. Gears of War wisely follows this path. However, Epic Games was smart to create a world that is haunting and unfamiliar. There are heavy influences from European architecture and lush settings that take the edge off the typical “world in chaos” themes. There’s a nice balance here that keeps your aesthetic eye pleased beyond the simple fact that the graphics are awesome. Sure, they look good. But they’re also unique and interesting.
Gears of War is an easy pick for the canon. It's a game you must own. Even now that the sequel is out and it does everything better – and prettier – than the first one, I still find myself playing this game. And if you're thinking co-op, you're thinking Gears. One final note: Of course, the game is brutal. I was playing it one day as my wife walked by to catch me using my chainsaw to saw an enemy in half.
"That's completely unnecessary," she said.
"Well," I replied, "that's why it's not called Gears of Peace."
By Victor Paul Alvarez