For a legion of modern console gamers, Gears has become accepted shorthand for the Gears of War series %26ndash; especially now, as the Gears of War 3 beta rages on in advance of its September release. But you won't find Delta Squad, COG Tags, or grotesque violence in Gears for iPhone and iPad. In fact, all you'll find here are a couple-dozen platform challenges where you'll either touch or tilt your device of choice to guide a metal ball to a funnel-shaped goal. And truly, that's quite fine with us. Gears is earning raves for its looks and sharp platform approach, and happily, all the praise pans out in this universal release.
Sure enough, Gears does impress on an aesthetic level, with colorful 3D stage designs that feel like leftovers from PC indie hit Trine, plus additional detail for iPad 2 users. You might not think that a simple ball-rolling game would draw much attention on the App Store, especially as console-hardened studios start throwing their hats into the ring; but between the sharp visuals, entrancing cut-scenes, and solid tunes, Gears really does stand out as one of the better-presented original games we've played lately on the iPhone or iPad.
Luckily, it wasn't just Gears' looks that grabbed us, as the challenging stages forced us into the kind of fast-paced, tactical platform situations that get our blood pumping. While the game's 27 stages start simply enough, with you moving the ball over large moving gears and platforms towards the goal, you're quickly thrown into much zanier situations featuring large gaps and drops, downhill slopes, and even bounce pads that vault you from one tiny landing spot to another. Gears is much more easily played with the touch-screen control scheme %26ndash; especially on iPad, where the greater screen real estate makes it easier to stay on top of the action %26ndash; but the tilt option feels like the right way to experience the game, no matter how much tougher that makes these platform tasks.
Thankfully, the game scales well across difficulty settings and control options, awarding you more points for tackling stages with the tilt sensor and on the higher levels, where you'll have much less time to navigate the various obstacles and devious designs in search of the goal. Gears' straightforward ball-rolling approach may not seem particularly enthralling, but whether you prefer to tilt or touch, the engaging platform action makes it one of the sharpest original iOS offerings of late.
May 12, 2011