Gears of War review

  • Deep and frantic multiplayer
  • Innovative gameplay and surprises
  • Three words: sawing through people
  • Shortness of the single-player campaign
  • Steep learning curve of multiplayer
  • Two words: Eating saw

Blending unmatched twitch-action with an incomparably oppressive atmosphere and multiplayer that will monopolize your broadband for months, Gears of War is the game the 360 was designed to play.

Talked up for months in a marketing campaign whose cost undoubtedly dwarfs the gross national product of most third-world nations, we can safely announce that Gears of War delivers on the promises developer Epic has made. Here's how it suckered us...

Gears of War zigs when you expect it to zag - where you'd imagine a guitar-heavy, thrash metal-laced soundtrack, Gears of War belts out a hard-hitting symphony packed with fanfares and themes that get your blood pumping far more than any generic electric guitar could.

This theme of surprise is carried over into the gameplay as well. Gears of War doesn't just focus on your standard running and gunning, but rather delves into some fantastic twists on the tired shooter genre.

The first time you run up against a blind Berserker (who can only be killed outside using the lasers of orbiting satellites - which you can call down using a pointer called the Hammer of Dawn), you'll understand the drastic departure Gears of War has taken - a swerve which fulfills the promise of next-gen like no other title yet. When you try to guide hero Marcus Fenix over a rotted-out wooden floor without dropping him into a nest of bloodthirsty Locusts, you'll know the definition of innovation.

That is, if you can get past the graphics. Huge, muscular combatants move like giant men wearing heavy gear, fine details are everywhere, and splattering blood never looked so beautiful - and we mean that in an uncreepy, non-Hannibal Lecter kind of way. It just looks incredible.

As if the single-player campaign isn't satisfying enough (and it is, though it's over far too soon, at around eight hours), Gears of War's four-on-four multiplayer action has swept the GamesRadar offices in a way unknown to these weathered game reviewers since Halo 2. There, we said it: Gears of War has induced the kind of spontaneous throw-downs that used to be reserved only for that holiest of Halos. Be sure to click on the Movies tab above for a video account of our experiences with Gears of War, and if you like it (or don't have time to sit and watch now) go ahead and download a portable version for your iPod by clicking this link.

Gears of War accomplishes this by providing a rich suite of contextual actions that are fairly easy to grasp, but incredibly challenging to master. Shucking and jiving around the map, making sure you're always under protective cover is easy enough, but getting the hang of the highly-touted chainsaw bayonet takes some serious dedication. Add to that the expansive arsenal of weapons at your command and the deeply nuanced tactical options, and you've got a game that may never get old.

We do have one word of caution, however: people are going to get very good at this game very quickly over Xbox Live, so bear in mind that the competition will be stiff. If you don't like losing, you may want reserve your multiplayer matches for only your closest friends in order to avoid getting your ego stomped into the pavement by some random thirteen year old with a foul mouth.

We were wary of Gears of War and its hype-fueled debut, but actually playing this magnum opus has shoved all doubts from our extremely critical minds. If you own a 360, you owe it to yourself to buy this game (and an Xbox Live account... and broadband internet service if you don't already have either of those). If you like guns at all, you owe it to yourself to buy a 360 just for Gears of War - you will not be the least bit sorry.

More Info

Release date: Nov 09 2006 - Xbox 360 (US)
Jul 01 2006 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Epic Games
Franchise: Gears of War
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:


  • WillisTron - April 26, 2010 7:52 a.m.

    Gears of War < Gears of War 2 < (Hopefully) Gears of War 3 Thus, the perfect trilogy
  • GameCraze - March 20, 2010 2:19 p.m.

    Lol it won't come out only for the PS3. Gears of War is a franchise for Xbox 360 and PC only, like the Halo series.
  • Vivapwnata - December 7, 2008 8:50 p.m.

    No, this is the first, and the second came out about 2 weeks ago, lol, i'm a little late on this comment, but what's sad about the second one is that it doesn't freak you out as much... I'll try not to give away too much either...
  • username80 - September 26, 2008 4:20 p.m.

    is this the second gears of war and if so whaen does it come out
  • lethaltrain - June 25, 2009 12:15 a.m.

    Where did you hear that it's only coming on the ps3?
  • Reaper2009 - June 5, 2009 1:51 a.m.

    Both Gears of War is realy good. They both have a good story line and a lot of action.
  • FluffyDestructo - August 25, 2009 8:10 p.m.

    I love both of the gears of war games, but i think the first one has much betetr multiplayer than that of gears of war 2.
  • saveTehcheese - June 19, 2009 3:42 p.m.

    is it tru that 3 will be only for ps3? thst pisses me off
  • alectl - March 23, 2009 9:42 p.m.

    the first gears of of war is better than gears of war 2 because your above ground but gears of war 2 is still realy good

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