Disclaimer: I appreciate video games as an art form, and admire the time and effort developers take to bring these experiences to life. Unfortunately gaming journalism today has taken an overcritical approach. Therefore I do not wish to incorporate any grading system in my blog and instead offer a ‘story driven’ review of the game experience and how it applies to me. Positive vibes all the way 🙂
Gears of War 4
I’m trying to ignore the fact that the original Gears came out over a decade ago, but it didn’t stop me from sending a message to my best friend Semo who has moved to Canada since. It’s one of our earliest memories together. We will never forget the Blind Berserker attacking us based on the sound we made moving around the room. Semo still makes fun of me for what happened later that night. We gamed late enough that he decided to stay over and suddenly woke up from a picture frame slipping off the nail and crashing onto the attic floorboard. My reaction to what sounded like a sniper shot? Half asleep I got up, wrapped myself in my blanket and made a Breserker shriek sound and went back to sleep. Semo witnessed this and still calls me Baby T-rex sometimes.
Last year the original Gears of War was remastered for Xbox One, which is essentially the original game with revamped graphics. The latest iteration, Gears of War 4 is finally here and it isn’t just the fresh coat of paint that makes this game shine. Having played the new campaign mode I can’t commend The Coalition Games for the efforts they have put into making this experience one of the best. I tend to shy away from online reviews but it is safe to say that the game has scored highly across the critics, bar one whom I won’t mention. I can understand different points of view but to call this campaign lackluster is blatant click bait, unless they played a different game that I’m not aware of. This comes at the timely comments of Philip Spencer (Head of Xbox) regarding negative reviews used for click bait, which I absolutely agree with.
In a nutshell this game delivers on all fronts. It continues the Gears Saga in adequate fashion, introduces new, relevant and relatable characters, humorous script, insane environments, and creative weaponry and enemies.
Forza Horizon 3 isn’t the only new release flaunting its lifelike weather effects, Its apparent from the get-go with Gears 4 and its not merely there to look pretty. The environment plays an important role in the story. Turn your Air-Conditioner on high and you can almost feel the storm pass through your living room without the need of VR. Having a rad sound system helps but you get what I’m after.
I want to keep this post spoiler free so I will summarize my experience without hitting major plot points or discussing the surprises included in the campaign. The script is engaging and includes adequate humor to help you navigate through the grim situation. The game grabs you from start to finish and continues the story continues to pummel you through till the credits. I’m extremely satisfied and grateful for the experience, in fact the sound of gunfire, enemy shrieks and the Lancer Chainsaw are still ringing in my ear. Environment and color palettes are more pleasing to the eye. Lush environments break away from the previous generations Quake-esque shades of brown darkness. The introduction reminded me of one of my all time favorite games Enslaved (Xbox 360), and I love the unique approach taken with certain in game situations and introduction of awesome new enemies that interact in unique ways. I won’t give it away, but there are certain parts of the game where I know the developers could read our thought process and taunting us to do something we knew we shouldn’t do but are completely tempted to try. My hat tipped to you ‘Coalition Games’.
Initially I was a bummed out that the story mode would not allow 4 player co-op, as my Xbox inner circle had a blast completing the Halo 5 campaign together, however having gone through the story I understand why they decided to go with the 2 player approach.
I would have loved to play Gears of War 4 with my Semo however time could not permit so I looked to make new memories with my wife (round of applause she has 260 Gamerscore). My wife is a culinary genius, however when given a controller the crosshairs immediately post towards the sky. I should be careful with what I write as she is really good with knives. Maybe I should she would have faired better with the recently released ‘overcooked’ (No Crosshairs involved right?) but we play video games to get away from work right? (Thankfully we don’t work for COG.) Unfortunately my wife could only get past the prologue with me, although one of my proudest moments was seeing her use one of the series most prolific weapons the hammer of dawn, taking out one of the biggest enemies on the onset all by herself.
When Halo 5 was released last year, I enjoyed the epically scaled battlefields however there was a somewhat anti-climatic part of the campaign that was a bit underwhelming. Gears of War 4 might not be as scaled, however it was an extremely satisfying and tailor-fit experience. Although previous Gears characters are iconic they were firmly rooted in their Alpha male-esque. Trop. I guess it comes with the territory and story, however the new set of Gears characters are more relatable, likable and will honor the early Gear fans and welcome and attract new fans alike. Think Star Wars 7 with the new cast.
I can’t wait to experience the Horde Mode and Online Multiplayer Maps with friends, both providing greater value for money and continuing the Gears franchise. With regards to the campaign, I can safely say its one of my favorite gaming experiences so far.
Gears of War comes out tomorrow Tuesday 11th October 2016. I played the Ultimate Edition on Xbox One. Digital versions allow crossplay on your PC.