Nov 2, 2007
Let's pretend, for the first half of the review, that no one here has played Gears of War. We'll put our fingers in our ears, count backwards from 10 and allow the hype and hoopla to drift from our ears like a beautiful smoke effect. And… you're under.
So, Gears of War in one word: meaty. Even the sneering lips of the heroes manage to be muscular, and the dialogue stinks of five-day sweat. The weaponry is tactile, and the sound effects are like someone slapping strips of bacon over your ears. The gibs are stupid and make up for the desolate colour schemes of the planet. Not forgetting the stylised eruption of black blood - especially when you score a chainsaw kill - no game makes you feel like you're relentlessly punching a carcass quite as much as Gears of War. If you want to shoot shit and not get your tear ducts misty over some feminine emphasis on plot and characters, hello.
But shooting stuff, as wonderful as that always is, is exactly half of what Gears' single-player game is about. The rest is about taking cover. Cover isn't just a useful bonus here, it's a constant fundamental - it's bound by default to the biggest button on the keyboard for a reason. You'll spend more than half the game in cover, and once you get used to the way the controls reflect that, it simply becomes the way you work.
When your teammates get injured - one of the most irritating parts of the game - you're forced to break cover and heal them. As a device to vary the action, it's perfectly acceptable, perhaps even clever. But as a human beingwe resent doing most of the killing, then getting told that ifwe don't heal some guy who had an AI failure and ran around beckoning bullets, it'll be game over.