Gears of War

Gears of War is the embodiment of all the hype over the current generation of consoles and what they’re capable of.

Maybe we had just become too complacent with Sci-Fi shooter genre (Halo, Quake, Unreal, Doom . . .) to expect any really new or surprising innovations.

Finding cover has always been important in 3-D shooters, but it’s never been integrated so seamlessly into the game play. Before, you could just “run and gun” your way through a game with a healthy margin of success, but in Gears if you don’t cover, you die.

Cooperative play is also integral to Gears of War. If you get too far away from your squad, the Locust will surround you and turn you into a bloody splatter on television. While your team’s AI isn’t impressive, they hold their own for the most part and even manage to frag a few Locust for themselves. But to get the full effect, you need to have buddy play through the game with you.

The story is better than I expected it to be in a Man vs. Locust horde-type of game. You’re always presented with a reasonable explanation for what you’re doing and where you’re going. The Locust have overrun the earth and it’s up to the remaining human survivors to save their own skins. That’s where you, Marcus Fenix, come in. You lead a squad of grunts trying to map out the Locust tunnels so an ultra-smart bomb can seek and take out their core.

Online play is easily as good as the campaign mode. There are a few quirks to it, especially if you’re used to the way things worked in Halo 2. There are fewer game types to start with, and there’s no sure way to guarantee you and a guest can play on the same team.

I’ve also noticed some problems with the voice communication: sometimes my team can hear me, sometimes they can’t. But these issues only detract marginally from the total experience and my only disappointments have come from my own inability to play the game without getting sniped in twenty seconds.

Somehow Cliffy B and Epic studios have made a game that’s everything it promised to be.