Gears of War

Cameron Nutter - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Xbox 360 (Microsoft)
Produced by: Epic Games
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Mature Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Patches / Upgrades: Yes, bug fixes, more maps and more achievements

     Reviewed By: Cameron (evileye)
     VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Genre: Other Third-Person Shooter
Christian Rating: 1 of 5 (awful)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 1 of 5 (extreme)
Adult Content: 4 of 5 (barely present)


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Spoilers Ahead

*May or may not apply to Gears of War on the PC and on the Mac.

*This review is based on a play through with the content filter ON. With the filter on, it gets rid of a lot of blood in the game, and removes some of the more vulgar curse words. So, unless otherwise noted, all the content in this review is based with the content filter ON.

*Thanks to Phazon for editing this review.

Story:
The planet Sera is under attack from a race of horrible aliens once thought to be mythical creatures. They are called The Locuste, and one day they assembled under every major city on Sera. They emerged from under the ground with devastating consequences. We play as Marcus Fenix, former soldier who, after disobeying orders so he could go back to save his dad from The Locust, was imprisoned for Dereliction of Duty for forty years. Now Sera faces complete annihilation at the hands of The Locuste, and Colonel Victor Hoffman, Fenix’s former commander, has pardoned all prisoners on the basis that they need all the help they can get. So, under unlikely circumstances, Fenix sees himself out of his cell and straight back in the firing line as the fate of the world lies in his hands.

Gameplay:
Gears of War plays out totally in third person. In third person, you aim with the right analog stick, and move with your left. You then proceed to pick up a gun and mow down your enemies. You always have a side arm, and two other types of guns, usually a machine gun, but a shotgun appears in your path sometimes.

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Although the game plays out well, the friendly AI are all morons. They slow you down, get in your way, die all the time and hardly ever kill anything. To the contrary, the enemy AI is top notch, and it really gives you the sense of hunting… or being hunted.

Violence:
As the best looking game of the 360, you have to assume that the blood is some of the most realistic you will ever see in a game. The enemies spray blood, but it dissipates before it hits the ground. Using the chainsaw on the end of your gun, you will proceed to chop someone in half, no blood shown, but when they hit the ground, they are in one piece.

As you are playing you will see preset environments which the content filter does not filter out. You will find rooms filled with dead people, with their blood soaked in around them. I saw a few that were chopped into pieces and lying on the ground. One particular room had about five dead bodies laying around the room, and gallons of their blood was on the walls and floors. In the beginning of the game you will see a few guys who have their upper body hanging on a spike from the ceiling, and their lower body is hanging from another right next to it. Even with the content filter on, this game is not for the weak hearted.

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Now, when you turn the filter off, you not only get the preset environments littered in blood, but when you shoot or kill an enemy their blood flies out in spurts, and gets all over everything, including your viewing screen. If you are close enough to an enemy when you kill him, or when you chainsaw an enemy in half, their blood gets all over your screen, and almost blocks your sight for a few seconds, before fading away.

Language:
This is a time of war. With death at every corner, you have to assume that the Gears are always at their breaking points. And although I don’t agree with the language in this game, I find it a little more acceptable based on the conditions that these soldiers are in. “s—” is the most common curse word, which is used many many times throughout the game. Gods name is taken in vain many times, which really irks me. “d—”, “bi—”, “ba—–”, “hell”, “a–” and “a– hole” are used quite frequently as well, from start to finish. The ending credits music has over ten instances of “s—”, because its repeated in a rap.

All of the above is what you will hear with the content filter on. With it off, be prepared to hear about half a dozen “f—‘s” along with everything else that was mentioned [credit goes to Rexman64 for this information].

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Sexual Content:
There is one sexual comment in the entire game. Besides that, nothing.

Spiritual Content:
None

Graphics:
Gears of War is the most beautiful game to ever grace the Unreal engine, and maybe even the most beautiful game ever created. The Unreal engine is a amazing looking engine by itself. But when the creators of that engine go all out and use everything that the Xbox 360 has to offer, the result is one of the best looking games ever created by man kind. Coming out in 2006, when Gears was surrounded by sub-par looking games, it was the obvious choice for the best looking game available. Now, in 2008, where Gears is, arguably, still the best looking game out there, you can finally grasp how great this game looks.

First off, the environments are the best graphical part of this game. The Earth has been bombed, and the result is the most destroyed, trashed and ironically gorgeous looking Earth even created in a game. Everything is extremely detailed down to the littlest detail. Mostly everything is destructible by various weapons. In one level, it is raining and the rain act accordingly to the environment, rolling off the roof, sliding down the road, and even bouncing off of our characters head and shoulders. It is breathtaking. In another level, you are riding across a desert on a train, traveling at very high speeds. I assume that they are using a repeating environment, but its impossible to tell. The character models are just as nice to look at, and are still some of the best ever created.

Now for a little griping about a few problems I had. In a few of the cut scenes, the characters mouths didn’t quite move in sync with the voice overs. I got a few small glitches in the textures once, but they promptly went away. Also, in some of the more intense scenes, especially in the level where it was raining, I had some serious frame rate drops that lasted for about five or so seconds each time. But all of these are very small complaints when you look at the amount of detail the 360 is pushing.

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So if you didn’t want to read that big long paragraph about how awesome the graphics are, let me summarize: This game is more than likely the best looking game that you will ever see/play for at least a few more years. Yes, its that good.

Controls:
As previously stared, this game runs in third person. Epic integrated an almost perfect cover system into the game. When you are near some piece of cover, like a wall or otherwise, you press “A” and your character will crouch up to the wall. You can then move across the cover, blind fire over the cover or press “L” to aim over top of the cover. This system works very well, and is very important to your survival in the game. When fighting, your character controls very well, and everything feels as smooth as silk. You can adjust the sensitivity to your liking. Your characters have a ton of armor on them at all times, so naturally they move quite slow. So to fix that little problem, the developers added a sprint button, which allows you to sprint for a limited amount of time. This greatly increases your mobility and helps the game along.

Sound:
Coming into this game, I had already listened to the official soundtrack for Gears of War multiple times and loved it. So the first time I heard one of the songs in the game, as I was blasting away tons of Locust I just had a good feeling inside. The soundtrack is very well done, and adds a huge part to the game. The voice overs are both well cast and well preformed. One of the voice actors even won an award, and another is played by the voice of “Bender”, off of the show Futurama. They are all quite funny too. Even though they are good most of the time, they do get a little too serious on themselves once in a while. The sound effects are top notch and add a very realistic feeling to the game.

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Final Conclusion:
I came into this game almost 2 ½ years late. If only I had known what I was missing. Gears is a game that we will look back upon as one of the greatest in history. Although very violent and full of language, this is one of those games that just can’t be missed. It has brilliant game play, amazing graphics and an epic soundtrack. Although I won’t say that it is the best game ever made, because it is far from it. The story is mostly not even there, and the voice overs, while good, are sometimes overdone. Even so, this game is a benchmark, a staple in the history of games. Although I can’t recommend this game to most teenagers, even with the content filter on, everyone else should take this game as a reason to go out and buy a 360, if you haven’t already and get into this game as soon as possible.

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Year of Release — 2006

[tags] 4 stars, Other, Xbox 360 (Microsoft), M (Mature), Epic Games, Third-Person Shooter[/tags]




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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