Well-Oiled Gears, Ready to Churn Out Sequels
The return of the iconic third-person shooter is just what this generation needed, and while most of the experience seems to retread familiar ground,the pace and intensity of this new chapter makes for a high quality game. There is no doubt that there is a lack of risks taken in this game, but that caution promises future iterations. Let’s dig in and sift through the good, the bad, and the gory.
There is so much to love about this new generation of Gears. The game is clearly in good hands with Microsoft’s in-house developer, the Coalition, headed up by Rod Ferguson. Since the first game, the campaign of Gears have been a barrage of endless bullets, bro-ish one liners, and satisfyingly gruesome chainsaw executions. Gears 4 has all of this and manages to make you care for the characters that are savagely murdering their foes.
The introduction of J.D. Fenix and his new squad adds a sense of humor and optimism that was seemingly absent in previous installments. This becomes increasingly obvious when they play off of Marcus Fenix’s curmudgeonly gruff and jaded character. The start of the game has you facing off against a new threat that is a departure from previous enemies. The robotic army, known as the Deebees, provide a new challenge for veteran Gears players. They do not fight like the locust and create a new kind of tension when they attack.
The story plays out in a typical Gears fashion with new dramatic twists that again add a level of nuance to the experience that keeps pushing you through the 10 hours of gameplay. There are plenty of collectibles and difficulty levels that will have you coming back. This game is clearly made for couch co-op and is great to see the series promoting that feature. Now onto what holds this game back.
Though this game works to reinvent the franchise and springboard a new generation of Gears of War, it did not push far enough away from the source material to make the kind of impact that the series made last generation. While the argument can be made that the original game was lightning in a bottle, this game was very close to being a ground breaker but came up a little short.
The measures taken by the developers were, no doubt, to ensure that this game sold well and ensured future games. It would have been nice to see some stories go deeper and, frankly, get weirder or darker. The game’s second antagonist is one example of this soft retread of an older idea: The swarm and the locusts from previous entries are carbon copies of one another. The in-game explanation of this similarity seems phoned in. Hopefully the sequels are worth this sacrifice.
Now for the gory, gory competitive multiplayer. The multiplayer for Gears 4 is vast but accessible to those who are familiar with playing Gears online. The developers seem to be following current online shooter trends. by introducing micro transactions into the archetypal Gears online system. It seems a little disjointed; however, it does work to make newer players feel at home.
As a final note, horde is back and it’s exactly what the community wanted. We gamers are a tricky bunch, however, and we tend to need more than just satiation. The added elements to horde mode don’t really raise the bar as much as they make sure it’s right where it was before, which isn’t exactly a horrible thing, but after a few rounds, they kind of run their course. Similar to the campaign, this is better experienced with friends.
Gears is back and ready for another trilogy, or more. This game series has always done an excellent job pairing environmental story telling with gruesome combat mechanics. The fun in this game is best shared with a friends, especially when you get to chainsaw them in half. The only reason to be cautious about picking up Gears of War 4 is if you are happy to let sleeping cogs lie, and feel content with your Gears experience. You’ll be back though.
+ Gears is back
+ New Likable Characters
+ Diverse Enemies
– “Safe” story telling
– Swarm = Locus
– Online doesn’t break the mold enough
Be sure to keep up with The Geekiverse across social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. Watch The Geekiverse Show on YouTube and listen to The Geekiverse Podcast on iTunes & SoundCloud today!