Gears Of War Campaign Review
Polished… A word not often used to describe the Gears of War Franchise. In my experience with the original trilogy the games always had a glitchy feel to them, and for lack of a better word a “rusty” finish to the gameplay, controls, and graphics. Although you could argue that this has worked in the franchise’s favour, further promoting the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, Lovecraftian world that the game is set in. But for Gears of War 4, polished is exactly how I would refer to it. I have to admit the gameplay is a hell of a lot smoother, given I have only ever played the games on the Xbox 360 this might also have something to do with new hardware capabilities rather than game design, but never the less it is a massive improvement.
The games environment (not unlike its predecessors) is visually stunning, with excessive detail delivered through every pixel in every frame. The aesthetically beautiful environments only manage to distract you momentarily from the gruesome and unrelenting threat that is constantly looming over human existence. Although now developed by the Coalition (not in conjunction with Epic Games), Gears of War 4 still brings that nostalgic feeling of being immersed in a universe so different yet strikingly similar to our own. With a terrifying immersion that leaves you hanging on to the edge of your seat, the latest title published by Microsoft Studios sets the bar for what a Gears of War campaign is meant to feel like. It’s full of gruesome bloody death, real life emotion and the constant feeling of inevitable loss.
As far as story lines go you play JD (Marcus phoenix’s son) and are accompanied by Del your best friend and a young woman named Kait, while you set off on a quest to find her mother. Without giving too much away shit gets real and humanity is once again facing a threat they are neither ready for, nor possess the ability to overcome. Gears of War has always made me feel connected to the characters in a way that gives me shivers, the moment when Dom finds his Wife in Gears 2, my eyes swelled with tears and I felt the anger, the rage, the hate that Dom must have felt. I have to admit I didn’t feel as connected to the new cast as much as I would like but I can tell that by the end of the next few games I will be.
The flow of the campaign is pretty much what you would expect from a Gears game. You push through 6 acts while the events of the game become progressively desperate, all the while that feeling creeps up your spine, you know, that feeling like you can’t win this, there is no way out, we are all going to die. The difference here is the cliffhanger at the end! No resolution no feeling of satisfaction just the sinking despair that things are only going to get worse from here! But the excitement that you know, there are more Gears Games to come.
Overall I would say that Gears of War 4 would have to be the most fun of all the titles, the polished gameplay and the layout of the battlefields makes for great strategy and decision making, along with some new weapons to play with. Even though I ran through most of the campaign with the Custom Lancer I had a lot of fun with it. You just can’t go past that epic feeling of chainsawing the face off you enemy as they try to drag their bloody and defiled body away over the blood-soaked pavement.
The environment is way more interactive than previous installments. Most notably the Sun Flare storms that wreak havoc with extremely strong winds can create an environment where loose debris can be dislodged with a carefully placed shot splattering your enemies against adjacent walls. Moving cover spots and breakable support beams can also turn the tide in a lost battle. The pace of the campaign is fundamentally faster than previous games as well, which in this writer’s opinion is a godsend. I was once so furious with the long breaks between battles and the constant slow points set aside for dialogue just after a checkpoint that I just stopped playing Gears 2, it took me almost 3 months to pick it up again. The speed of Gears 4 is only slowed by the simple co-op-based puzzles that are scattered right through the series. For example; two players needed to open a door by turning two hydraulic wheels at the same time. Even though this is a Gears of War staple and something we have come to expect of the franchise I do at times find it very tedious.
The other trend I found with the latest installment was the lack of new in combat dialog, hearing the phrase “Get back in your hole!” really gave me the shits to be perfectly honest. In truth it was nice to feel at home in Gears of War 4, the nostalgia was definitely there, I just wish there was a little more invention and evolution with certain aspects of the game.
My final thoughts on the campaign, I can’t wait to stop writing this review so I can go back and play the crap out of it. Aside from a few little idiosyncrasies, I think Gears of War 4 will delight old school fans while at the same time introduce newcomers to the gritty, dark and dangerous world of Sera. So far this is my Game of the year so I strongly recommend it. Gears 4 is the perfect start to a new series of Gears games and I can’t wait to play them through.
About: Simon Mawson
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